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May 26, 2017
Debbie Trocha, Executive Director, Indiana Cooperative Development Center

It's official:  Up & Coming 2018 is scheduled for March 16-17

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Jan 4, 2017
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“ICDC was pivotal to developing Lost River Market and Deli in a community that doesn’t match the normal food co-op demographic. Incorporation, bylaws, organizing a steering committee—but the largest impact was ICDC’s consistent attention, offering advice, finding resources and avenues of support and helping us tell our story to members and funders.”

—Debbie Turner, Lost River Market and Deli

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Jan 4, 2017
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“We began working as a multifarm agricul­tural cooperative in 2006 with assistance from ICDC and a grant for legal expenses. Without that support, our co-op growers wouldn’t have been able to confidently create its FarmFreshCSA project to direct market our naturally grown fresh produce.”

—Claire Whalen, Laughery Valley Growers

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Jan 4, 2017
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In the fall of 2005, a group of farmers in the Laughery Valley in the Southeastern region of Indiana came together to meet with the ICDC staff and discuss the feasibility of joining forces to develop local markets for their produce. The initial meeting stirred the creativity of the group and soon the Laughery Valley Growers Cooperative began to take shape with six local growers. They agreed to begin their marketing efforts with the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) model which would be called the “FarmFreshCSA.”

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) creates a direct relationship between consumers of locally grown food and those who grow it. Growers agree to provide a weekly share of their harvest to subscribers who support them by paying a fee in advance of the harvest season. CSA subscribers join with growers in assuming the costs, risks and rewards of growing the season’s crops. Such fees pay for seeds, supplies, labor, water, equipment maintenance, soil-building amendments and other expenses required before harvesting. They also include expenses for the management and packing of weekly produce.

They created a produce availability chart with each farmer committed to growing certain produce for 2006. Two additional growers joined before the growing season began. In early Spring of 2006, the group of farmers began developing their initial business plan, and became a farmer-owned cooperative, the Laughery Valley Growers, Inc., by the time they packed their first weekly boxes in June, 2006.

In 2007, FarmFreshCSA has increased the number of household subscriptions and has also doubled their size to 15 contributing farmer members. Consumers who have purchased their weekly share of produce have offered the following feedback:

  • “Since increasing my intake of your vegetables, I have more energy.”
  • “I loved this! I can’t wait until next year.”
  • “I liked the opportunity to try new vegetables that I normally wouldn’t try.”
  • “This is a great gift we open each Wednesday.”
  • “I’ve used some of the veggies as baby food …she loved it!”

The Laughery Valley Growers continue to develop strategies to create new collaborative marketing opportunities for their locally grown products and to build upon the CSA business. For more information on the Laughery Valley Growers, visit their website.

Laughery Valley Growers Cooperative members prepare a weekly supply of produce to CSA subscribers within their region.
 

Topics: Success Story Comments: [comment_count]
Jan 4, 2017
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In September 2005, a large group of residents from the greater Orange County region in Southern Indiana gathered to discuss plans to support the growers of local specialty foods and to enhance their availability within the region. A steering committee began to developthe Lost River Community Cooperative. Since that time, the group has been off and running!

The group consisting of consumers as well as producers adopted a vision and mission statement, drafted a set of bylaws, and collected information to formulate a road map to successfully conduct the development work for a new consumer owned food cooperative. The food co-op store will offer a mix of conventional food items, locally grown produce, meats, and baked goods, natural food selections, bulk foods, hard-to-find items, and health and nutrition products. The goal of the retail store is to have a unique product offering, but be broad enough to be a primary food store.

The cooperative incorporated in 2006 with the help of the Indiana cooperative Development Center and CDS. The steering committee utilized the expertise of food co-op advisors to conduct a market analysis and feasibility study and to write a business plan. The steering committee immediately embarked on an intensive membership recruitment drive, member loan campaign, and financing of the cooperative business. The steering committee transitioned to their initial Board of Directors at their first annual meeting in April, 2007. The project has garnered much enthusiasm and support within the committee. The cooperative purchased a building in Paoli for its retail location which as it turns out was originally built as a locally owned grocery store. The co-op membership has been diligently working to renovate and install fixtures for the store.

A general manager was recently hired, and the store is scheduled to open for business as the Lost River Grocery and Deli in the fall of 2007. Lost River plans to employ six when the store opens and twenty people within five years. For more information on the Lost River Community Co-op based in Orange County, visit their website at www.lostrivercoop.com.

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