Farmers Co-Op — What Are They and How Can You Benefit From Them?
Apr 17, 2023, Updated Jun 14, 2023
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Over the last few years, we’ve all come to appreciate the human connection with our family and community. And you may have started paying more attention to where your food comes from and how it’s grown.
We’ll go out on a limb here and assume you’ve heard the term “co-op” before. Or maybe you’ve heard it called a cooperative — they’re one and the same.
Farmers co-ops help bring communities together through collaborative farming and business strategies and often give back to local organizations. The farmer co-op concept helps small scale and family-owned farms secure market access in the competitive grocery retail landscape, as well.
We’ll explain what farmer co-ops are and how they contribute to our society and your local community. You’ll be so impressed with how thoughtful farmer co-ops are that you can’t help but support them!
What is a co-op in farming?
Farming is a business, and often business owners need investors. Instead of working with investors who have a bottom line as their focus, co-ops are producer or user-owned businesses. This type of business model gives growers the freedom to focus on sustainably growing their fruits and veggies with the best results possible. Grower-owned cop-ops help their growers to market their produce as well1.
Co-ops allow farmers to focus on sustainable growing techniques to provide you with fresh produce without harming the earth.
Sustainable Benefits of Co-Ops
There are many reasons to use and support co-ops. For example, they have amazing health, environmental, social, and economic benefits for you, your kids, and your community2.
- Easy access to affordable fruits and veggies
- Raid awareness of the benefits of nutritious food
- Confidence and purpose for volunteers
- More supply of local and organic produce
- Less of a carbon footprint
- Less packaging and waste
- Connects the community
- Meet up and hang out spot for locals
- Brings communities together
- Supports local growers and farmers
- Spread wealth in the community
- Teaches volunteers new skills
As you can see, there are many reasons to support sustainable farmer co-ops, and we hope you feel the same way. There is no time like the present to start reaching out to your local co-ops for your favorite seasonal produce.
Produce Mom Tip: If you’re a fan of local U-picks, pickle your harvest for fresh, long-lasting berries and produce. It’s simple, easy, and oh so yummy.
Three Types of Farmer Cooperatives
Co-ops help farmers have more control over the price of their produce. Cooperatives exist to help people like farmers have more power over selling their products regardless of unexpected food bourne illnesses, natural disasters, and fluctuating market demands. They assist growers with supply, marketing, and service.
Farmers can get supplies from co-ops who buy in bulk, reducing costs for farmers working so hard to grow sustainable fruits and veggies. A marketing co-op works exactly how it sounds. They help farmers market their products, so you know that they exist and you buy their appetizing produce. There are also service co-ops to provide things like transportation for the farmer’s produce.
Co-ops play a big role in helping farmers and growers do what they love — grow their produce and focus on the people they serve. Without co-ops, it would be much more difficult for farmer co-ops to change the food industry for the best, most nutritious produce for you.
North Bay Cooperative
You know that saying, “take one day at a time?” That’s how North Bay Produce operates — one day at a time. They are obsessed (in a good way) with developing the best varieties of their produce, always looking for ways to improve their growing practices for new standards of taste, texture, and shelf life for their fruits and vegetables.
As a farmer cop-op, they focus on the people they serve and the growers they work with. The growers are also the owners, so they’re committed to doing things the right way. Focusing on people rather than commercial goals is always better for everyone, from the farmers all the way to the consumers.
But how did North Bay Produce become an international leader in produce?
What started out as part of the Cherry Central Cooperative, North Bay started marketing their produce in 1984. Their marketing was working, and they had a higher demand for their asparagus, apples, and prunes — their primary products at the time. In order to provide produce all year and to meet the needs of the people they serve, they started importing fruits and veggies from Latin America. So they formed North Bay Produce to include their group of international growers and have been expanding ever since.
They even partner with universities and nurseries to continue developing and growing new and exciting products for you.
Why We Love North Bay Produce
Located in Michigan, North Bay Produce works with over 30 grower-owners in North, Central, and South America. As an international company with a focus on the people they serve (you and your family), it makes them a rare company among other farmers.
They’re committed to sustainability practices to give you high-quality asparagus, berries, apples, and peas all year long from all over the world. They believe in giving you the best quality produce and taking care of the earth at the same time.
And that’s a cause we are passionate about supporting. When you see the North Bay logo at your local grocery store, you can be confident that you’re getting fresh, safe, and eco-friendly produce.
Want to see where some of your blueberries come from?
Come meet a few of North Bay Produce’s growers!