Meeting the Needs of your Community: How to Create a Local Food Co-Op

In an ever-growing globalized economy, sometimes it is necessary to step back and look at the local level. Nowhere is this more prevalent than in the sphere of farming and in addition to that co-op farming.  While traditional family farms have had a place in the farming world for a while, there are some drawbacks to that as well. They may have the possibility of producing a high quality amount of food but have a hard time marketing these goods to restaurants, grocery stores that need these products in high volumes.

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Food is a tangible good that goes bad, so time is a constant that needs to be looked at closely. By working with other producers, your small farm operation or community can build a cooperative strategy to get selling and working with high-volume buyers.

Getting Started

Most cooperatives are comprised of full time farmers who have the funds to invest in salespeople. This is a different method for small farmers to work together. One of the harder obstacles will be the need for actual organization in a co-op. These growers can come together and be able to meet the needs of high-volume buyers all around.

Certain types of conditions must be met. That means having the necessary tools and already running a proper organization as well. You might need to upgrade your trucks, look out for any deals they might have; be it buying new farming equipment or everyday truck use like with a new Ram 3500. All of these items need to be taken care of so you’re an equal contributing member to a potential farming co-op.

Benefits

By working together with local food producers, it reduces the chance that you might be going up against other farmers in a similar market and not being able to sell your food.  By unifying the products under cooperation, efficiency and volume sales can be met for places that are usually used to mass-produced commercial edge farms.

Keeping it in the community is advantageous for both sides. It reduces shipping costs and makes a community more self-reliant on the help around it. Though globalization helps in many aspects, including the food industry; it never hurts to go back to local roots.

Goal Setting

All the farmers have to be on the same page if they’re going to be able to work out this new type of experimental agreement. It’s like running a unified business and needs to be treated as such. Agreeing on many things and being able to compromise on other aspects is a necessary action to have.  Different level farmers may have different goals and they need to make compromises if they’re both looking how to best maximize the business.  

When the main goals are met it’s smart to acquire a checklist of what all needs to be done together. This can be done through a signed agreement that each party will agree to adhere to the stipulations put forward.  Family farms and commercial grade farming can coexist, it’s about how to maximize the potential in a coop that will make this possible to continue and coexist.

Patrick Williams has a smallholding which he and his family, which includes the kids, keep running. Patrick is an important figure in his local community and often writes about social / community matters alongside his farming related articles.

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