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For Thanksgiving Meal, Shopping at Local Cooperatives Urged

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Members of Fertile Ground Food Cooperative in Raleigh are active participants in creating policies and making decisions. (Facebook/Fertile Ground)
Members of Fertile Ground Food Cooperative in Raleigh are active participants in creating policies and making decisions. (Facebook/Fertile Ground)
 By Nadia Ramlagan - Producer, Contact
November 21, 2019

RALEIGH, N.C. – Residents and community leaders in southeast Raleigh are spearheading an effort to open the neighborhood's first food cooperative.

Despite the era of click-and-buy, which now has encroached into grocery shopping, member-owned food cooperatives haven't gone out of style.

Erin Byrd is board chair of Fertile Ground Food Cooperative, a project in its organizing stages. She says in her neighborhood, many people lack access to fresh and affordable healthy foods.

"While there's a lot of assets in our community, one of the things that is more difficult to access is a viable grocery store within a short distance from my home," she points out.

Byrd and other residents and community leaders have spent the past several years planning the employee-owned grocery store and community space that would host cooking classes and other events. She says she hopes to break ground on a site for the space by 2021.

The group currently is working to collect enough members in southeast Raleigh to move ahead with the project.

"The thing that we have to do, though, is first secure the number of owners in southeast Raleigh, like in the community, and secure kind of a commitment that we'll have enough people that will be able to shop there that will make our store feasible," Byrd states.

Byrd says cooperatives are democratic organizations controlled by both their members and residents who buy the goods or use the services of the store. She notes that members are active participants in creating policies and making decisions.

"There's a cooperative movement happening across the country,” Byrd points out. “A benefit of our work, but also one challenge, is that we have a lot of support from people across the state, but we want to grow our support from people right here in our community that are going to shop at the store."

Last month, Fertile Ground kicked off 100 in 100 challenge, a campaign to acquire 100 member-owners in 100 days. Byrd says since the launch, Fertile Ground has gained a new member nearly every day of the campaign.

Informal monthly meetings on the status of the co-op are being held the fourth Saturday of each month at the Crosby-Garfield Center in Raleigh.

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