Florida Organic Growers is working with the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (SSAWG) and Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI) to help support the formation of Agricultural Cooperatives in the North Central Florida!
Three meetings were held in the past weeks in Live Oak, Jacksonville, and Gainesville. We appreciate the input and insights of all those who were able to attend. For any of you who missed it, we have put together a summary of the discussions and action items for our coming meetings.
As you probably know, cooperatives can take many forms, and there is a rich history of farmer’s cooperatives; farmers working together to solve production, marketing, material or sales needs. The basic concept of these planning meetings is to create a common goal, mission, and structure with a core group of growers that are able and willing to come together and create an organization. In order to do this, these first series of meetings focused on the collective needs of area farmers. The top functions desired for a cooperative were:
- Marketing and Sales, including increasing the communication between farmer and buyer, farmer and resource providers, and farmer to farmer.
- Collective Purchasing
- Equipment Sharing and/or Labor Sharing
- Education, Training, and Capacity Building
In addition to basic services the cooperative may provide, there was consensus given that cooperatives should function within their locality.
For example, Gainesville would organize a cooperative, as would Jacksonville, with the potential for networking and communication between the two groups. As well, the meetings did focus on beginning the cooperative with fresh produce, before moving on to distributing animal products or value added products.
In the next series of meetings we will focus on creating a mission statement and selecting folks that will be willing to continue this project as a planning committee. We will be sharing feedback from buyer surveys distributed and other grant initiatives that may help continue with the funding of this project. Any additional input is always welcome, and we hope to keep the planning meetings and process as transparent as possible.
Please join us at one of our upcoming meetings if you would like to participate!
Alachua County Public Library Headquarters
401 East University Avenue
Monday, April 20th 6:30 – 7:45 p.m.
Small Business Development Center of North Central Florida
212 N Ohio Ave. 32064
Tuesday, April 21st 6 – 7:15 p.m.
Duval County Extension Office
1010 N McDuff Ave, 32254
Tuesday, April 28th 6 -7:15 p.m.
We hope to see you there! If you have any questions please contact Mary Hathaway at Mary@foginfo.org or at 904-419-3609 for more information.