Community Foods farmers and food makers keep us well fed and healthy. We buy their products, at a fair price, to support them in return. Since the onset of the pandemic, some local producers have seen sales growth. Many have experienced a significant decrease in demand and others have completely lost markets— like restaurants. In this economically unprecedented time, Seward Coop is a lifeline to many Community Foods producers, offering a reliable and predictable revenue source for their hard work! When we shop at Seward Co-op, we support not only our co-op; we also support a strong network of local Community Foods producers. Browse through previously featured producers some of whom have shared heartfelt updates available here.
Rochdale Farms Co-op
At the beginning of the pandemic, Rochdale Farms partnered with Red Barn Farms to launch a local fair-trade initiative to help preserve seven Wisconsin dairy farms that make up Red Barn Farms. The collaboration allows them to divert milk from several small farms to create two new cheeses—Mild Cheddar and Colby Jack—both available at Seward Co-op. This product collaboration helps Red Barn Farms expand into new markets, fulfilling Rochdale’s mission to advocate for humane animal care and preserve small family dairy farms. For every pound of milk made into Red Barn cheese, their family farmers earn a fair-trade pay price that ensures their businesses and way of small-scale farming will be around for the future.
Caven Pfeiffer, Seafood Producers Cooperative (SPC) member-owner and fisherman, shared his experience this past fishing season. “There were times this season when SPC was the only buyer. The only reason they were buying under the uncertainties of the market was because they cared about the fishermen. And the fishermen that own SPC were saying that ‘we got to keep going.’” In response to concerns of market uncertainty, a large number of Southeast Alaska processing plants closed their doors, leaving many fisherpeople unable to get their fish to market. SPC and its member-owners agreed to keep their doors open to purchase and process products from the many fishers unable to sell their catch to market, whether they were owners of SPC or not. Their response helped to keep not only their member-owners employed but other fisherpeople impacted by the unprecedented market and economic uncertainty.
As a result of Baker’s Field’s direct relationship with grain farmers and their in-house stone milling, they have been able to quickly problem solve and adapt to meet exponentially growing demand in flour and fill supply gaps for local food co-ops—including Seward Co-op. This sales growth has kept Baker’s Field and their grain farmers busy and thriving. To support the increase in product demand Baker’s Field has been able to secure more space and equipment. “It has been a game changer for us. It allows us to buy larger quantities [of grain] and support our farmers even more,” shared Production Manager Patrick about this expansion. Purchases of Baker’s Field’s breads and flours are not only an investment in the company itself but also the farmers from whom they source their grains.
Featherstone Farm Community Food Fund to support food access in their local community. This fund allows community members to purchase a farm share at a reduced price for donation to a local food shelf.
Together, we can harness the economic power of our communities to support a more equitable local economy. The impact of that has shown to help build a more resilient food system and foster economic self-help—the ability to identify issues, recognize where they have the most impact, and show us how we can support the community—for the long term. As you shop at the co-op, we encourage you to help us keep Community Foods producers thriving.