King: Over here we have muskmelon that got a really good start this year.He says the idea behind the Whole Farm co-op harkens back to a traditional system of farming.
King: We are trying to develop a friendship between urban people who normally don't know where there food comes from, and rural people who normally don't know where they send their food, so we're trying to recreate that connection between the farmers and the eater.Once the Whole Farm Co-op got off the ground, it needed a customer base. People who would appreciate the co-op's theory of farming, their product and their wish to operate independently.
Hennen: Many people in our parishes were quite excited about it because they see it as a way they can use their food-purchasing dollars to support and sustain family farmers on the land, and they realize it also has an impact on the health and welfare on the health of our rural communities.Parishioners buy meat, cheese, eggs and vegetables from the co-op with an order form. The co-op 's volunteers fill the orders and make weekly deliveries to the churches.
Ciacio: I see it as a win-win situation. When you donate money to a charity you don't know how much money is going to that cause and how much is going to fundraise and whatnot. I know that the money is going back to farmer 100 percent. That's a good feeling, and I'm benefiting and my family is benefiting by the wonderful products they are providing us with.Thirty farmers sell their goods through the Whole Farm Co-op, delivering to five Twin Cities-area churches.
Arnold: I guess we don't like to look like a charity, we want to pay our own way, but there is an issue here. Somebody's got to get in there and pitch a little bit or we are all going to go the corporate way, and I don't think people really want to see that.While farmers in co-ops take control of their business, they need to do more, like market their products, and establish a delivery system. These extras cost money. That means customers pay more than they would at the grocery store.
King: Will a system like this work economically? I'm not sure yet. So maybe it'll work. It's still an experiment. But, it's exciting to see that there is a need for something like this.The Whole Farm Co-op is finding it hard to keep up with customer demand for its products right now. The group will start delivery to a sixth church this fall, but says it'll need to bring more farmers on board to continue selling directly to customers.