What is Local and Sustainable & how does Clipper City Co-op support it?
During the last century, a major change occurred in the way we grow our food. It was a movement away from our beginnings as an agricultural nation of small farmers to a wholly new—mechanized and industrialized—method of farming. While this revolution meant more food from far fewer farmers, it came with some very damaging consequences, including “topsoil depletion, groundwater contamination, the decline of family farms, continued neglect of the living and working conditions for farm laborers, increasing costs of production, and the disintegration of economic and social conditions in rural communities” (Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program, UC Davis).
As the downside of industrial agriculture has become more and more clear, there has been push back at the grassroots level. The explosion in recent decades of farmers’ markets, community supported agriculture (CSA) programs, and young families going into organic farming are all part of this push back against the industrial model.
One important way communities have responded is by establishing co-ops, like the Clipper City Co-op, that partner with local farms and other sustainable businesses to offer healthy foods to their communities. In fact, one of the four primary goals of The Clipper City Co-op is to “cultivate local, sustainable agricultural and food production” (CCC Mission and Goals).
But what does “sustainable agriculture” really mean? According to SARE, there are three “pillars” of sustainable agriculture:
Profit over the long term.
Stewardship of our nation’s land, air and water.
Quality of life for farmers, ranchers and their communities.
The first of these pillars is the emphasis on the long term.
That is, sustainable agriculture doesn’t trade short-term gain
(a bumper crop) for long-term loss (the destruction of the soil on which all growth depends). Second, the methods farmers use should contribute to the healthfulness of the environment we all share rather than eroding it with chemical and other run-off into our waters, soil degradation, and air pollution. And third, our farmers need to be able to make a decent living, pay their workers a fair wage, and contribute to the health of the communities in which they live and work.
The key to making such sustainable farming financially sustainable for the farmers is to have a large, reliable network of customers; but large grocery chains just don’t do much partnering with these smaller local farms. That’s where the Clipper City Co-op can make a real difference. It provides the link between local farms and people like you, who want access to healthy fruits, vegetables, and meats, produced locally, sustainably, and organically. And in linking our farms to you, as their customers, it will also help to grow the local economy.
Through the partnerships CCC is developing with local producers, you are already “shopping” with these farms and other producers. CCC’s March open meeting began with an opportunity to meet our partners, farmers and other producers, and buy their products, from fresh farm eggs and microgreens to organically produced meats and vermicompost to work into your garden beds. That meeting also produced four new Co-op Owners, bringing our total Ownership, as of March 21, to 129.
We expect to host more of these opportunities as we grow toward the size we need to be to open our grocery store. On average, 1100 owners are needed for a start-up our size to open its doors. Our goal for this summer is to grow our Owner-member base to 280, allowing for the first ownership meeting, board nominations and elections.
You can help us grow, by becoming a Owner-member today or, if you are already on board, bringing in your friends through our Plus-1 campaign. Your commitment and your energy and your ideas are what will propel us toward our goals and build our store!
Another way to get involved is to volunteer to help grow the co-op community. Clipper City Co-op has committed to this summers farmers
markets and is in need of volunteers to staff the information table, discuss ownership opportunity and educate the community about CCC. If you've got a few hours to spare, once or twice a month and would like to help educate and grow membership, or if you prefer behind the scenes activities, that sustain the work of CCC's committees, join us, as we grow community. Visit our Volunteer page or contact Cath Pape community relations chair person, and sign up, to be a part of something exciting for Manitowoc County.