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Meredith Holt, Published April 12 2013

Food co-op’s roots spreading

FARGO – The Prairie Roots Food Cooperative is one step closer to reaching its goal of getting organic, locally produced food into local families’ homes.

The group has been active and meeting regularly since its kickoff last year, and held its first annual meeting last month.

The co-op now has more than 100 members, including a few producers. Most are from the Fargo-Moorhead area, with a couple from Valley City.

The total goal is 1,000, and board secretary Gretchen Harvey thinks the interest will become broader than the metro area.

“We have the grass-roots support. People really want this,” she said.

Some are driven by the desire to reduce their carbon footprint. Others want to support local farmers. For Harvey, who’s been involved in buying clubs on and off for years, it’s all about the food.

“I wanted to buy good food in bulk, and it’s only been relatively recent that you could actually buy this stuff in the grocery stores,” she said.

The co-op started a new initiative to purchase software to be integrated with the website that will allow producers to post what they have available and buyers to place orders.

“We’re going to be connecting local farmers and our members even before we have a storefront,” Harvey said.

Tim Mathern, president of the board, said it’s a way for those interested in participating to engage and start receiving the service.

“It really heralds the mission of the organization, which is getting good food into families’ homes,” he said.

The hope is to start with monthly drop-offs, then, depending on demand, increase the frequency to every two weeks or even weekly.

“It’s going to depend on how quickly it takes off,” Harvey said.

The Web system will be open to anyone, not just members, but of course, there are benefits of becoming a member.

“For us, this is about fulfilling our mission of making good, organic, local food more available, but also it’s going to be to the consumer’s advantage to become a member of the co-op, because the co-op members will have a better price than nonmembers,” she said.

To become a member of the co-op, you purchase one share of common stock for $300, which can be spread out with a payment plan.

Mathern, who belongs to three cooperatives, said he thinks there are enough people in F-M to operate a successful food co-op that focuses on locally grown, organic food.

“To me, it’s local people working for the citizens in the community,” he said. “It’s keeping the product within range of being able to recognize the product and also keeping the money, the profit, of this transaction, keeping that in the community. I think that’s the most important thing.”


To keep up with the Prairie Roots Food Cooperative’s development, check http://prairie-roots.coop or www.facebook.com/prairieroots.

More info

To learn more, members of the co-op will be holding a meet-and-greet from 3 to 5 p.m. April 21 by the east corner of the Moorhead Center Mall.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Meredith Holt at (701) 241-5590