We need a grocery store that builds a strong partnership with local farmers and is committed to buying local FIRST. The organizing committee will contact local farmers wanting to work with us to help them with pre-season planning when the co-op opens. A working relationship with our farmers will enable us to help to decide what to grow, while ensuring that they have a group of engaged consumers with a commitment to buying local first and ensuring our farmers can make a living raising food for our community.
A committed partnership with our local farmers will also encourage current farmers to increase production and do more year-round farming—and it will attract more young people into the business of raising food for our community. When local products are not available, we can still support small, sustainable producers by following fair trade practices- and building relationships with small family farms and small, artisan producers in other parts of the country.
If our owners choose, we can even establish programs to help support our local farmers in other ways. For example, we could establish grant programs to help beginning farmers get started or to help buy a hoop house for a farmer who wants to expand or to organize a volunteer work squad to help with a big harvest.