Building Co-op To Co-op Supply Chains

Twin Cities area P6 co-ops are excited to offer watermelon grown by farmers from the Federation of Southern Cooperatives this weekend! This project, led by Snow Aukema of Seward Co-op, is the first step in what will hopefully be a long partnership between the Federation of Southern Cooperatives and Twin Cities area coops. As California faces environmental challenges like drought, it’s smart for food businesses to diversify where our produce comes from. Many of the produce items sourced from California are also grown in the Southeast, but the distribution chains aren’t there yet. P6 co-ops are leading the way to build a supply route from the Southeast to the Midwest. We’re starting with the oldest black-owned farmer co-op in the country, which has helped black farmers retain their land and livelihoods in the face of racism and other economic pressures. Read more about the work of Ben Burkett, the state coordinator for the Federation in Mississippi, at Serious Eats.

Twin Cities residents can buy Federation-grown watermelon starting this Saturday at Seward Co-op, Hampden Park Co-op, and Eastside Co-op.

Cooperatives Grow Communities: Riojana Olive Oil

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In the town of Arauco in the La Rioja province of Argentina stands the oldest olive tree in the country, planted in the 1600s. Although not native to Argentina, the Arauco olive is highly prized for its buttery smoothness and meaty texture, and for the robust floral and fruity flavor notes it contributes to olive oil.

There, in the Antinaco-Los Colorados Valley, the cooperative producers of Riojana extra virgin, fair trade organic olive oil are cultivating much more than their 350 olive trees. Through cooperation, they are growing a healthy, vibrant and sustainable community.

When you purchase Riojana olive oil you are not just purchasing a delicious ingredient to enjoy, you are casting a vote in favor of cooperative, fair trade businesses—and helping more than 422 cooperative members continue to invest in a brighter future.

Reinvesting profits for health and education

La Riojana’s founders came from Italy to Argentina in the 1940s and began cultivating grapes for the production of wine, and planting olive trees as a natural companion plant. Certified fair trade by Fairtrade International in 2006, the members of the cooperative have invested more than $11 million Argentinian pesos (~ $730,000 US), primarily from the sale of their fair trade organic wines, in projects including a new drinking water supply for the village of Tilimuqui, where many of La Riojana’s workers and their families live. The fair trade premium has also been invested in production improvements, new community centers and medical equipment, but the most visible result of the cooperative’s reinvestment in its farmer members and their families can be seen in their commitment to education.

A new secondary school specializing in agriculture opened in Tilimuqui in 2010. Offering free education to children age 13-18, the school has had a profound impact on its community, providing a catalyst for local development, increasing employment by the creation of more than 50 new jobs at the school, and providing training in technical agronomy to help slow the migration of young people to larger cities. Since 2010, enrollment in the school has grown from 33 pupils to more than 300. With plans to build new classrooms, the cooperative hopes to expand the school’s capacity to 600 students in the next few years. The cooperative also provides kits of school supplies to children of its members, as well as free computer courses to adult community members.

Focusing on environment to ensure a bright future

Besides supporting health and education, the cooperative is invested in green initiatives and sustainability, so transitioning more of its growers to become equivalency USDA Certified Organic is another important goal. With a focus on becoming carbon neutral, La Riojana Cooperative is introducing improved water management techniques, the use of solar and bio energy and a reforestation project.

Source: http://strongertogether.coop/article/cooperatives-grow-communities-riojana-olive-oil

Pachamama: A Different Kind Of Coffee Co-op

P6 is excited to announce our newest member: Pachamama Coffee Cooperative. Pachamama roasts delicious single-origin coffees and blends, but their high quality isn’t the only special thing about them. Pachamama is a 100% farmer-owned cooperative.  (Keep reading to the end of this post to find out how to get a year of free Pachamama coffee!)

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Like P6, Pachamama is a cooperative of other cooperatives. Five small-scale farmer cooperatives in Mexico, Peru, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Ethiopia own the business. This gives the farmers direct ownership over the brand all the way from the farm to your cup. Pachamama’s board of directors is made up entirely of farmer representatives, meaning that farmers not only own the business, they control the business.

Farmers grow, select and export beans directly to the roaster they own in California. From there, the coffee is roasted daily and shipped directly to customers throughout the United States. Unlike most coffee businesses, all of this supply chain is owned by the farmers. By retaining ownership of their coffee – roasting and branding it themselves, and then selling directly to customers – farmers now have greater incentive to produce even better organic coffee next year. It’s a win-win-win for the farmer, the consumer and the environment.

p6_familia_guatemalaPachamama seeks to transcend and exceed the debate about fair trade vs. direct trade coffee by simply providing great coffee that comes directly from the farmers themselves. Pachamama appeals to coffee connoisseurs seeking the most nuanced flavors and to those who simply wish to support farmers that have invested in roasting and selling their own coffee for a change.

Pachamama offers several coffee subscription options for gifts, homes and for offices. This coffee CSA service offers consumers a direct path to supporting farmers and the opportunity to sample a variety of high-quality single origin coffees and blends, delivered monthly.

P6 is teaming up with Pachamama to offer two fantastic deals right now. First, you can win a year of free coffee by going to our Instagram and sharing our giveaway post. Second, everyone can get 20% off all Pachamama Coffee purchases from now until 12/19 by using the offer code P6HOLIDAY at pacha.coop.

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1st P6 Month Tailgate at Viroqua Food Co-op

Viroqua Food Co-op has a well established P6 Tailgate event every March, where vendors come and talk with VFC shoppers about their products and the local food system. This year, the staff at VFC decided to double up and host a second tailgate: a P6 Month Tailgate!

Representatives from 10 small, local, and cooperative producers handed out samples on special discounted products from tomatoes to beer to sauerkraut. A member of the P6 national office came and staffed an informational table, including a raffle for a P6 prize pack with a full case of La Riojana wine.

Check out pictures from the event:

The producers present at this event included:

Moscow Food Co-op Launches P6 In Style

Congratulations to Moscow Food Co-op, which fully launched the P6 program with an amazing parking lot party on Sunday, August 28. Over 600 community members came through their party, which featured 28 small, local, and cooperative vendors. Just among those producers who were in the parking lot, P6 sales on the day of the party were $2000!

Some feedback from vendors:

  • “Thank you so much for inviting us to the event! Our sales and marketing manager said it was the best tasting all around that she’s EVER done! The level of thoughtfulness and interest of all those in attendance was amazing! Thank you so much!”
  • “I thought the customers really liked it and were very involved and excited about the party!”
  • “Gained new interested customers!”

Check out pictures from the event: