Collective Energy = Wow

The energy of a collective makes pursuit of big ideas possible. This is true for Back to Basics: without the effort of a few for months followed by an intense amount of effort and energy by many, this long-running event wouldn’t be the success it is today!

Another great example of collective energy resulting in realized dreams is that of co-ops. While there are different types of cooperatives, the one many consumers see commonly is that of food co-ops. In this region of MN, we are fortunate to have a few options up and running with a few more in process or emerging! Co-ops have been supporters of Back to Basics (B2B) from the beginning! We gratefully accept the donation of Peace Coffee made possible by the Crow Wing Food Co-op (Brainerd, MN). The Ideal Green Market Cooperative (Ideal Corners, MN) donates tea and the Countryside Co-op (Hackensack, MN) is donating trail mix ingredients this year. Often, local co-ops host booths at B2B, too. This year, visit with Crow Wing Food Co-op, Ideal Green Market Cooperative, and the in-formation-phase Free Range Food Co-op (Grand Rapids, MN). This is a great opportunity to ask questions to understand membership, offerings at each co-op, and much more!

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Back to Basics has become a hub in the winter for people to connect. Our local food co-ops are an integral part of making it happen.

We are thankful for the support of B2B in any and all forms – from time to resources to goods and services! And as we share our thanks for co-ops, it seemed like a timely opportunity to expand a little more about co-ops.

So, the basics – co-ops are established by engaged folks eager to have a resource for local produce and goods, bulk products, and more! Co-ops are governed by a board, like nonprofits. Memberships, or member-owner shares, are sold to customers who then become member-owners of the co-op. Memberships are crucial in launching co-ops – as a way to not only garner interest in the existence of another buying outlet, but verify true buy-in. Some co-op memberships are annual though the majority are “lifetime” or more accurately since you are purchasing a member-owner share in the cooperative you’re “in”.

For those that are actively seeking locally produced goods, co-ops are a great source. As co-ops try desperately to offer an outlet for both producers (growers, ranchers, etc) to sell their local goods and consumers to access them.

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Food Co-ops bring producers and consumers together in a way that traditional supermarkets can’t. Shopping local is personified through food co-ops.

“Relationships” is one of the words that popped up repeatedly when speaking with Barb Mann, local foods enthusiast, long-time grower, and retired co-op manager, about co-ops and why they matter to her, to our communities, and to local foods efforts in MN. In the effort to launch the Ideal Green Market Cooperative, Barb was instrumental. She acknowledges that such an endeavor was not possible without support. The term cooperative is very apt for what it takes to actualize the dream. It’s fair to note that it’s a marathon though – co-ops aren’t sustained solely on membership, they require consumers to continue to shop in order to remain solvent.

Co-ops and B2B are similar in another aspect, too – they each build community. Community is critical to a sense of belonging and adds to quality of life. Looking for a little community and some co-op chat? Join us at Back to Basics (2/15/2020)!

 

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