Apr 16, 2021
Farm cooperative business models get boost; virtual clinic offered

Farmers in Michigan and Vermont are being alerted that the National Young Farmers Coalition and the Cooperative Development Institute are hosting a virtual event about cooperative farming.

This is for anyone interested in starting a farm, current farm owners looking to transition to a cooperative model, employees who want to become member owners at their farm, or those interested in learning about the origins and importance of cooperative models! Whether you are already farming cooperatively but need support in next steps, or are starting from scratch, this is for you.

Come learn about the different cooperative farming business models out there, how to navigate interpersonal relationships while cooperatively farming, ask questions, and network with other farming folks in your state.

Farmers create our local foodsheds and build local economies, but many farmers burnout from trying to farm, manage a business, and market themselves all on their own. To lighten the load,  some farmers are turning to cooperative models.

Coalitions of farmers are creating aggregate CSAs and food hubs, sharing transportation or processing facilities, or other collaborative marketing strategies. Some are developing formal cooperatively owned businesses, tool shares, or buying programs.

These models are becoming more prevalent along the coasts but there are not as many resources on cooperative farming in the Midwest. These models were created by Indigenous peoples across the globe, and after emancipation in the US, Black farmers sustained communities through these cooperative models. However, these were intentionally dismantled and left us the crisis of individuality in farming today.

The National Young Farmers Coalition is piloting a Technical Assistance Navigator position in Vermont and Michigan, to connect with farmers and offer them resources and connections to appropriate service providers based on their needs. After statewide farmer surveys, interviews, and listening sessions, the Navigators heard the need for farmer support to establish

This project is in collaboration with Michigan Food and Farming Systems and the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board’s Farm & Forest Viability Program.

They are inviting the Cooperative Development Institute to a virtual event to speak to farmers about different cooperative business models for farms, as well as how to navigate the interpersonal dynamics that come when going into business with friends and neighbors.

A virtual clinic “Working Together: Cooperative Farming 101,” will be held May 6 from 1-3:30 p.m.

Register here.

After presentations and Q&A with the Cooperative Development institute, there will be separate breakout rooms for Vermont and Michigan farmers, to learn from farms in their states who are already developing these cooperative farm models. In Michigan, they will hear from Green Things Farm Collective and the Detroit Community Wealth Fund, who funds cooperatives led by Black, Indigenous and other people of color, primarily in Detroit. Farmers will be able to network and ask questions, and receive resources to continue support for their transition towards or formation of a cooperative model.

Farmworkers and landless farmers are welcome! Service providers and non-farming folks are welcome to register as well, but please indicate that you are not a farmer in your registration, and try to leave the Q&A space mostly open for farmers and farmworkers questions.

Contact Payge with any Michigan questions at [email protected], or Sav in Vermont at [email protected]. If you are a farmer, farmworker, or aspiring farmer who is looking for resources or support for your farm goals, feel free to reach out to speak with the Navigators as well to get resources for your current/future business.


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