By Hannah Scott, OCDC Program Manager
A group of farmers in Preston County, West Virginia is working together to get local food into local schools. The Preston County Growers Co-op recently incorporated as a cooperative business with five member-farms that produce a variety of foods from lettuce to potatoes to eggs and beyond.
Some of the co-op’s growers have been working together for a few years to supply local schools with produce, but recently decided to formalize as a cooperative that is owned and controlled by their farmer-members. Within the cooperative model, members coordinate their production and marketing, selling to schools and other institutions as a single business and sharing profits with members.
The process of formalizing the co-op was supported by a number of organizations, including West Virginia University Extension, the Value Chain Cluster Initiative, West Virginia Farm to School, and the Ohio Cooperative Development Center. The Ohio Cooperative Development Center (OCDC) worked with the growers to help them learn more about the co-op model, including the benefits of the business model, how money can move through a co-op, and the process of forming a co-op in West Virginia. OCDC also assisted the group with reviews of their foundational documents, including bylaws, membership applications, and membership agreements.
Learn more about the Preston Growers Co-op in this article in The Preston County News & Journal.