The wonderful thing about food co-ops is that they belong to their communities in ways that go far beyond the footprint of the store itself. As Elizabeth Archerd, membership and marketing manager of the Wedge in south Minneapolis, Minnesota, puts it, “We are so much more than a grocery store.”
All co-ops practice philanthropy in their communities. For example, Wedge Share is a grant-based initiative that gives money to other mission-aligned organizations. All co-op members are asked to vote on the grant applications. The grants are then apportioned to the organizations with the most votes. “Wedge Share gets very high approval numbers from members,” Archerd says. “They like the initiative.”
Wedge members support another initiative that lies very close to the heart of Organic Valley / CROPP Cooperative, which is Wedge’s co-op owned Gardens of Eagan (GOE) farm. With 100 acres now transitioning into organic production, they’ll be able to rent 4 “incubator” parcels and greenhouses to beginning organic farmers. “We want to nurture the next generation of organic farmers, because it’s not being taught in the ag programs in universities, where students interested in organic agriculture are often told that organic farming is impossible.”
The farm is where the rubber meets the road, Archerd says. “Because we farm, we’re much more in touch with the challenges of farming. Sustaining farmers and keeping them in business is very, very important to our members. We really want their food, so we want them to stay in business and be able to feed their families and ours.”
Hats off from Organic Valley farmers to all the member-owners of the Wedge for their support of farmers!
Forgive us if we get a little teary on this one, because this month’s profile highlights a partnership with an organization that was there for us from the get-go. While our partnership today with National Farmers Organization (NFO) is more equitable, we are nevertheless “joined at the hip,” as CROPP CFO Mike Bedessem likes to say.
All of our cooperative partners who work to get Organic Valley and Organic Prairie products from farm to table are crucial to our success. However, consumers don’t see the result of that hard work until they walk into stores like the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op and find our products on the shelves.
Organic Valley's Northwest Pastures™ Milk goes from farms to tables across the northwest via a network of cooperatives that work with each other in spite of the fact that they are also competitors. This month we spotlight two fellow cooperatives who make our own regional milk program possible.
Who knew the purchase of some of the tastiest chocolate on earth or the finest “cupping” coffees could be so deeply satisfying? Equal Exchange fans tend to sum it up perfectly: “It’s easy to choose organic and fair trade when it tastes great!”
Founded in 1976 by 300 families seeking healthy food, La Montanita Co-op Food Market now tallies about 15,000 members and serves New Mexico out of six locations in Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and Gallup. Learn what sets La Montanita apart from your basic grocery store.
Most folks think of Organic Valley and Organic Prairie as sources of delicious and healthful organic foods. What they don’t know is that the key to our success is our cooperative business model known as Cooperative Regions of Organic Producer Pools (CROPP).
In recognition of the International Year of Cooperatives, we will be sharing the stories of different cooperatives throughout the year. Please join us this year to celebrate the benefits of working together!