The Future of Food is in Cooperatives

Food Tank had the opportunity to speak with Narendra Varma, founder of Our Table Cooperative, a multi-stakeholder cooperative located in Sherwood, Oregon. Our Table has 58 acres of farmland, a grocery, and numerous farm-based educational opportunities, and the organization incorporates the interests of its farm workers, regional producers, and consumers around the Portland area.

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FT: What sets Our Table apart as a cooperative? 

NV: We are probably the only multi-stakeholder coop in the nation that includes consumers and farmers in the same coop. And I’m not saying that it’s successful, time will tell. The thing that sets us apart is that we are trying to engage the entire community, not just in a conversation, which I think any successful farm is doing with its customer community, but in figuring out together what it really means to be a community-owned farm. The community feeds the farm, and the farm feeds the community. So I think that’s what sets us apart—in potential, anyway. It’s not an end destination, it’s a journey, and who knows how long it will take. It will evolve slowly and organically over time, and I think that over-arching and evolving experience is what sets us apart as an organization.

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