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"When we started looking into the idea of studying a food hub, his name kept coming up," Miller says. "It's almost like six degrees of separation, except with Adam Jones instead of Kevin Bacon."
Jones points to a gap in the barriers, and Nyquist stops the car beside a 3,000-square-foot plastic greenhouse that sits incongruously behind a chain-link fence and next to a concrete-block building that looks bombed out. Jones had it and a second greenhouse at Goode Acres (his partner John Goode's farm in Wathena, Kansas) put up by a team of Amish builders in May. He plans to have spinach growing in raised beds within the next 60 days.
"The idea is to grow food through the winter months," Goode says. "That's the biggest vision, is that this is not just a seasonal thing."
Goode Acres already sells to about two dozen restaurants, making deliveries once a week and offering Saturday pickup at its City Market stall.
"No one is going to corner the market on farming," Goode, 57, says. "But he's a visionary. He's got that yeast to make things rise."
In the rock-strewn ground next to the greenhouse, Jones wants to plant fruit trees. He explains that the gray, hole-pocked building he's pointing toward is the future site of a café, to be run by Noori.
"It's an ugly little building," Jones says. "But this is really about what you can view from here."
He sees a commissary kitchen and a washing station for produce. The sheet metal to repair the building's roof is already waiting in the bed of Jones' truck. A secondary structure with a loading dock could serve as a community-supported agriculture pickup location.
Across the hood of the Nissan, Jones opens a set of plans drawn by BNIM. This is the food hub.
Jones' view also includes a 6-acre plot of land near the Faultless Starch headquarters on West Eighth Street, where Jones has plans for an additional 27,000 square feet of greenhouses, and a nearby 4-acre piece of land that could hold another urban-farm plot. He says one might be staffed by the population of the Kansas City Community Release Center on Mulberry Street. Nyquist asks if he has had problems with theft. Jones' mood briefly darkens.
"Bastards," he says. Some reclaimed items he was storing here — beams, cladding — are gone. With his fingers he traces a week-old graffiti portrait of Spider-Man's Venom along the building's south wall. "They came in the middle of the night, and it's just so sad. That's stuff that can never be replaced, and they'll sell it for scrap. And even worse, people aren't as stupid as they once were. They've learned not to throw those things away.
"The only way to win is through attrition," he says. "You have to show them you're not going anywhere."
"This is just like Fulton Street in Chicago or the Meatpacking District in New York City," Nyquist says as Jones directs her back out of the West Bottoms. She drives through the City Market, where Jones hawks produce on Saturdays for Goode Acres.
"I think I picked him up five or six years ago, and he's been a main part of our success Saturdays at the City Market," Goode says.
The City Market features prominently in Jones' plans for the empty building off Intercity Viaduct Road. For the past few years, he has watched farmers spend the height of tomato season struggling with excess produce. In that commissary kitchen he means to build, farmers or a dedicated staff could can and process tomatoes and other produce, and turn potential waste into a commodity.