The Co-op Trade Initiative furthers our support of local farmers, gardeners, ranchers and producers. It encompasses all the local products and producers that are affiliated with the Co-op. It also includes all the projects and activities the Co-op sponsors and in which we participate. This effort is at the heart of the Co-op’s efforts to grow the local food movement and a regional, cooperative economy for a restorative and sustainable future.
This Initiative works to create wholesale opportunities for local producers whether they sell directly to the four co-op locations or utilize the Food-Shed’s Cooperative Distribution Center’s warehouse and trucking services. It also “closes the loop” by bringing needed supplies during product pick-up at farms and drop-off depots throughout the Rio Grande Valley region and related agricultural areas in a 300 mile radius around Albuquerque.
As continuous education is a Cooperative principle the Co-op Trade Initiative works with growers to improve post harvest handling and packing for the wholesale market. The Co-op also utilizes its resources to educate consumers on the true costs of local production and the importance of fair prices and just treatment of people and animals throughout the food production, distribution and consumption process. The Co-op Trade Initiative supports sustainable practices at every level of our Co-op organization.
The Beneficial Farms Eco Label is a project of the Co-op Trade Initiative. Originally a non-profit collaborative of farmers and ranchers, the Beneficial eco-label became part of the Co-op Trade Initiative in 2007. The Beneficial Farms Eco-Label provides assurance to Co-op shoppers that local foods not certified organic, are produced in a manner consistent with sustainable farming practices. The Beneficial Eco-label also assures that participating farmers maintain strong stewardship and environmental practices. A Co-op staff person with 20 years of farming experience in New Mexico works with regional farmers who would like to participate in the Co-op’s Beneficial Farms Eco label to ensure they meet all required standards.
The Co-op Trade Initiative collaborates with the New Mexico Food-Shed Alliance, The New Mexico Agricultural Task Force of the Middle Rio Grande Council of Governments, The University of New Mexico Sustainability Studies Program and others in an effort to push regional food-shed and sustainability forward into mainstream consciousness.
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Journal of Sustainability—March 2008 Edition—Sustainable Sustenance: Building a Regional Food-Shed, By Robin Seydel
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