Cooperating for a Co-op: Collaborating for Increased Success

Many small-scale food producers working independently have a tough time earning enough from direct-to-consumer sales to stay afloat in a competitive market. Farmers prep the soil, buy and plant the seeds, work the fields, risk the impacts of climate change and unseasonal heat waves, harvest and clean, cool and package, manage the Instagram accounts, schlep their heavy produce into town, sit in the sun for 6 hours in a parking lot at market (whether buyers come, or not), haul home the leftovers, complete the paperwork, and repeat the process daily. Despite long days: many small farms are struggling to stay afloat and compete with established (inter)national supply chains, and are looking for solutions.

 

Here comes the good news: There is strength in numbers.

 

Over the last several months, we've seen several farmers and producers who have formerly operated independently come together in hopes of collaborating. From crop-planning to holding shared liability insurance, from bulk box-buying to aggregating their product to satisfy wholesale demand, there is tremendous opportunity for synergy.

 

This "collaboration" can take several forms. Whether neighbors informally share resources like trucks or deliver each other's produce to chefs in Phoenix, or folks organize to create tangible "Food Hubs" with transportation and cold storage infrastructure, we have options.

 

One option is forming an Agricultural Cooperative. Ag co-ops keep farmers growing the food we love because they can pool resources and share expenses. Together, they are stronger.

 

Join us for a presentation and discussion on what collaboration can look like with the structure of a Co-op, and how we can elevate the value of our foods from various regions of Arizona by working together--

 

Wednesday, June 28 in 3 locations:

  • 9am in Young @ Pleasant Valley Community Center - more information and RSVP here
  • 2pm in Miami @ Bullion Plaza – more information and RSVP here
  • 6pm in Kearny @ Constitution Hall - more information and RSVP here

The presentation will cover the following-

  • What is an agricultural co-op?
  • What are the difference between a co-op and a non-profit?<
  • How do you get started? And who benefits?

The presentation is hosted as a part of the Copper Communities Food Hub Study, with the presentation being delivered by John Penry, Owner of Penry Consulting, LLC for Arizona Center for Cooperative Development. John is a creative thinker and planner, able to take complicated concepts and condense them into palatable bits of information. His objective is to constantly improve ways of teaching and understanding cooperatives and the energy industry.

 

Questions? Email us.