12-13-2016 6-30-01 AM

Rocky Mountain Farmers Union Creating Co-ops

While food production and backyard farming is our primary focus here at RTT, community building is always viewed as the backbone of those endeavors.  Community makes food production possible – from help on the farm to customers to buy the product.  Community has also shown itself to be difficult to achieve in our fast-paced, overly scheduled, and screen-addicted lifestyles (yes I know, we’re all staring at a screen right now).  Even so, the idea of food production and community remains intertwined and relevant.  There is a way to do both, and this method carries more power than casual organizing and community building.  This wonder of wonders is the co-op, and the time to build an urban farmers co-op in Colorado Springs is now.

Rocky Mountain Farmers Union Foundation is launching its Traveling Cooperative Institute (TCI) program this year.  TCI offers free-to-low-cost trainings about cooperative entrepreneurship to communities throughout Colorado and New Mexico, helping communities get these valuable structures in place.  The workshops cover the co-op business model and steps to starting a co-op in depth.  The events targets ndividuals considering entrepreneurship under the cooperative business model.  Caroline Savery, lead trainer and organizer, has worked as co-op business developer and educator since 2011 in Pittsburgh, PA and Denver, CO and has assisted a variety of co-op start-ups in numerous industries.

Why a co-op you ask?  Good question.  Co-ops increase producer leverage in the market, build networks, keep wealth local (ding, ding, ding!), and help maintain local business ownership.  You’ve heard me preaching this line for years, and here’s a chance to get one going for our community.

Here is a quick summary of each of the workshops TCI offers:

  • Co-ops 101 – introduction to the co-op model, compared and contrasted with traditional business and non-profit models
  • Co-ops as Tools – assessing your community’s needs and discerning whether a co-op might be an appropriate solution
  • Using Co-ops – hands-on opportunity to apply your knowledge about co-ops and how co-ops might address your community’s needs
  • The Co-op Development Process – understanding the co-op development process
  • Gathering Your People – how to bring together your initial community to begin developing your cooperative
  • Writing Your Plan – how to begin developing a cooperative business plan with your team
  • Leadership in Cooperatives – understanding leadership in the context of democratic co-ops

Between January 11th and January 13th, we have an opportunity to host the Traveling Cooperative Institute here in Colorado Springs.  Perhaps you are interested in turning your cottage food business into a co-op, or maybe you and a few of your backyard farming neighbors could organize a co-op.

You know how to reach me, so shoot me an email or leave a comment if you or someone you know is interested.  We can do more together than we can apart, and I for one would love to bring local food production to a new level here in Colorado Springs.


10 Responses to Rocky Mountain Farmers Union Creating Co-ops

  1. MARILYN MING December 13, 2016 at 9:57 am #

    Christine, I have much admiration for you and what you accomplish.

    I’m past my prime so wouldn’t be much good at setting up a coop but I hope we can all be apprised of any actions being taken by others. I will soon be on property where I am going to produce products and would be very interested in a coop depending on cost. Isn’t cost always a factor?

    Please keep up your good works!

    • Christine December 13, 2016 at 7:50 pm #

      Thank you mam – I will keep you updated as events dictate. So happy to hear that you’re setting up your own growing operation soon. And yes, cost is always a factor. 😉

  2. Beverly December 13, 2016 at 10:49 pm #

    oh, Christine, I hope you and others get this going!

    I do not have space for a garden of my own, but I’m happy to offer my services to help others out – helping out in garden or office work.

    • Christine December 27, 2016 at 9:26 am #

      That is such a nice offer – I suspect there will be an administrative lift to get this going.

  3. Natalie S. and David Woolley December 15, 2016 at 12:11 pm #

    This is so amazing! My husband and I are *literally* working on starting a small-scale growers collective for Colorado Springs right now. The plan currently would be to have a collective where homesteaders could sell their product at CFAM, and perhaps try to join up with Peak to Plains and AVOG.

    We were going to start reaching out to homesteaders and local food producers next week to get the ball rolling.

    I just got registered for the co-op workshop this morning…what timing. We were going to do it without even knowing the workshop existed!

    I’ll reach out to you and Judith Rice Jones about it next week.

    • Christine December 27, 2016 at 9:24 am #

      Which workshop did you register for? The Peaks to Plains Alliance? It seems to me that combining the groups makes the most sense. Let me know – don’t want to duplicate effort on this.

  4. Ruth Farmer December 15, 2016 at 4:48 pm #

    I would like to talk to you concerning Co-ops. We have a local one in Canon City but would you consider helping one already in existence? I would like to email you concerning this matter.

    • Christine December 27, 2016 at 9:25 am #

      Please email me – just hit reply on the newsletter email you get from me (I don’t want to post my email address on the website due to spammers).

  5. Sandy White April 29, 2017 at 1:37 pm #

    Hi Christine,
    Looks like I might be late on this. Any way to get involved? I have not had email for a while.( Using a Friends now) I will recheck this periodically. I used to have your phone number, but I have misplaced that. Thanks,
    Sandy White

    • Christine May 1, 2017 at 4:36 pm #

      Hey Sandy! I’ll call you – I got your message through Ed. 🙂

Leave a Reply