Photo credit to JMT Photography

ABOUT FREE RANGE FOOD CO-OP


In October 2015, a small group of community members came together to talk about the possibility of developing a food co-op in the Grand Rapids area. From the beginning, the mission at the forefront of the conversation was how to strengthen the local food system, and how to better support local growers and producers. During the process, the group has evolved from a handful of people just trying to wrap their minds around how to even begin, to an incorporated entity with hundreds of owners, and a growing organizing team.

Our food co-op is being built by the community, for the community. A volunteer board of directors and organizing team are completing the business tasks, in addition to community outreach tasks in order to raise awareness to the co-op and build ownership. FRFC is working closely with Food Co-op Intiative, which is a non-profit organization whose sole mission is to help advise, mentor and offer resources to start-up food co-ops.

We are following a development timeline that includes five stages that lay out both the critical tasks, and ownership goals that must be completed before we move on to the next stage. Because of the volunteer structure and the necessity to have community support and ownership, the development process for starting a modern co-op can take three to five years, or more.


THE MISSION

A member-owned grocery store that will increase access to local foods and goods, provide a foundation for educational activities, enhance health and well-being, and promote sustainability within our community.

THE VISION

A member-owned grocery store that will work to form relationships with growers and producers to provide increased access to local foods and goods.

Provide a foundation for educational activities, enhancing health and well-being in our community.

Strengthen the local economy by providing fair wages and long term job opportunities for area residents.

Promote environmental stewardship and serve as a hub for sustainability within the community.



THE VALUES

Cooperatives are based on the values of:

1Self-help
2Self-responsibility
3Democracy
4Equality
5Equity
6Solidarity
7Honesty
8Openness
9Social Responsibility
10Caring for Others

THE PRINCIPLES

Cooperatives follow a set of universal principles known as the Seven Cooperative Principles. These principles are a set of guidelines by which cooperatives put their values into practice inside their communities.

VOLUNTARY & OPEN MEMBERSHIP

Cooperatives are voluntary organizations open to all persons able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political, or religious discrimination.

DEMOCRATIC MEMBER CONTROL

Cooperatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members, who actively participate in setting policies and making decisions. Men and women serving as elected representatives are accountable to the membership. Members have equal voting rights - one member, one vote.

MEMBER ECONOMIC PARTICIPATION

Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control the capital of their cooperative. At least part of that capital is usually the common property of the cooperative. Members usually receive limited compensation, if any, on capital subscribed as a condition of membership. Members allocate surpluses for any or all of the following purposes: developing their cooperative, setting up reserves, benefiting members in proportion to their transactions with the cooperative, and supporting other activities approved by the membership.

AUTONOMY & INDEPENDENCE

Cooperatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their members. If they enter into agreements with other organizations, including governments, or raise capital from external sources, they do so on terms that ensure democratic control by their members and maintain their cooperative autonomy.

EDUCATION, TRAINING & INFORMATION

Cooperatives provide education and training for their members, elected representatives, managers, and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their cooperatives. They inform the general public about the nature and benefits of cooperation.

COOPERATION AMONG COOPERATIVES

Cooperatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the cooperative movement by working together through local, national, regional and international structures.

CONCERN FOR COMMUNITY

Cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies approved by their members.