Co-ops Grow Communities

For Co-op Month, learn more about how our partners are helping co-ops grow livable communities across the globe.

By our friends at National Co+op Grocers


Co-ops around the world share a set of guiding principles with your local food co-op, including “cooperation among cooperatives,” and “concern for community.” When you buy delicious, healthy food at the co-op, you’re supporting a business that cares about people and contributes to a livable, sustainable community. And when you choose products from co-op growers and vendors, that impact grows and grows!

Promoting Gender Equality

Alaffia’s Togolese women’s cooperatives celebrate their members’ unique skills, traditions and knowledge. They receive fair wages and are able to support their families, while maintaining traditions and managing a sustainable resource: shea butter. The goal is to alleviate poverty and encourage gender equality through projects focusing on education, health and reforestation.

Cultivating Quinoa & Communities

The 1,100 farmers of the ANAPQUI Cooperative have been growing certified organic quinoa for Alter Eco using traditional farming techniques since 1983. Harvesting by hand in the Bolivian Altiplano, they benefit from a living wage, thanks to Fair Trade practices. With an on-site processing plant, farmers reap the profits of direct exporting, improving their living conditions, their children’s education and access to health services.

Equity & Cacao



Kuapa Kokoo, the cooperative of family farmers who own Divine Chocolate, has prioritized equal participation and access for women since its founding in 1993. Women learn a range of income- generating skills and are encouraged to take positions of responsibility throughout the organization. Besides providing employment, Kuapa Kokoo offers literacy and numeracy training to enable women to earn income by starting other businesses.

Coconuts to Clinics


The people of Dr. Bronner’s know the farmers who grow their coconuts and the workers who process them, at their sister company Serendipol, in the heart of Sri Lanka’s “Coconut Triangle.” This Fair Trade certified supply chain helps fund community development projects like improving medical clinics, renovating schools and providing electricity.

Eco-Forward Coffee Farming


Equal Exchange partners with CESMACH co-op, which borders a UN-protected biosphere reserve in Mexico. Through thoughtful organic coffee farming, they strive to sustain rural farming communities while protecting incredible ecosystems.

Rainforest Restoration

Yerba mate, cultivated and sustainably harvested in South American Atlantic rainforests, helps Guayaki’s partners create over 1,000 living wage jobs while supporting reforestation projects. This truly sustainable system generates a renewable income stream which enables these farming communities to improve living conditions at the same time.

Stitching Together Opportunity

Since forming their first co-op in 1999, Maggie’s Organics has helped to start five more in two countries that supply organic cotton and apparel. Their latest project is Opportunity Threads, a 100% worker-owned co-op in Morganton, NC. Most worker-owners are Mayan immigrants who left Guatemala during civil war. The co-op is a thriving example of reshoring U.S. industry while empowering workers.

Sustainable Family Farms


Organic Valley is owned and run as a cooperative by the producing farmers. As a cooperative, Organic Valley has been able to expand their farmer- member base across the country and make high-quality organic food more accessible while creating a more sustainable business model for small family farms.

Cooperation is Sweet

Citadelle Cooperative, the world’s largest supplier of 100% pure maple syrup under the Shady Maple Farms label, helps its more than 2,000 owners earn fair wages and provides ongoing training on how to produce delicious, pure maple syrup sustainably. They are also diversifying into cooperatively- produced honey and cranberries.

Caring for Communities


Theo Chocolate is improving the lives of Congolese farmers by training them to grow high quality organic, fair trade cocoa, doubling farmer incomes and enabling farming families to reinvest in their communities and have access to necessary health care, in an area emerging from decades of poverty and violence.

To learn more about how co-ops are growing communities at home and across the globe visit:

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Guest Author

The Co-op News occasionally publishes posts from guest authors. Interested? Email comment at coopfoodstore dot com.