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What is a Co-Op

What cannot be done alone but can be accomplished together.

What is a Co-Op?

RMFU Co-Operative Development Center

Our Mission: To build a more just, healthy, thriving and inclusive economy through cooperative enterprises in Colorado, New Mexico, and Wyoming

The RMFU Cooperative Development Center, a program of the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union Educational and Charitable Foundation, Inc. (the “RMFU Foundation”), was established in 1996 to provide technical, financial, and educational assistance for new and existing cooperative businesses and projects. Cooperatives are time-tested business models and are often preferred structures for our clients in rural areas. For 25 years, we have helped small to mid-scale and/or resource-limited family farmers and ranchers, other rural entrepreneurs and agencies serving rural communities begin, grow and re-tool businesses, resulting in increased economies of scale, meaningful job creation and retention, better quality of life, and increased income opportunities for rural citizens.

Rocky Mountain Farmers Union Cooperative Development Center is one of 20+ co-op development centers around the country Co-Op Development Centers whose mission is to spread the word about the cooperative business model and help parties interested in establishing a cooperative to get there! Our services range from initial consultation to advising regarding feasibility studies and business plans to the necessary legal documentation to rural and urban efforts to create marketing, processing, services, and worker cooperatives. We partner with the United States Department of Agriculture and other agencies to help farmers, ranchers, consumers, and workers to start cooperatives and related business ventures. The Co-Op Center helps establish and strengthen rural producer-based businesses and local food systems, and reinvigorate rural communities.

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The Grasshopper Collective

When grasshoppers and drought laid waste to many specialty crops in the Mancos area of Southwest Colorado in 2021, one crop managed to pull through, providing some local farmers with hope, fresh ideas, and a cooperative pivot.

At a meeting to discuss improving their economic and mental health, four neighbor farmers quickly agreed that garlic was faring better than most crops under water stress and insect pressure and the market for specialty varieties looked promising. Mike Nolan and Mindy Perkovich of Mountain Roots Produce, Dave Banga of Banga’s Farm, Duke Jackson of Sol Vista Farm and Max Kirks and Megan Davey of Outlier Farm had a mere 5-6 weeks of irrigation water to work with in 2021, yet all harvested premium garlic bulbs that year.

The Grasshopper Collective

Colorado farmers hope to create a grocery co-op in one of Denver's largest food deserts

Imagine having the ability to walk into a neighborhood store on a daily basis and purchase local, regeneratively grown products direct from producers across our region. Then imagine knowing these profits went back to farms, ranches, and small business owners to continue building vibrant agricultural communities and a healthy food system for all community members and our environment.

Watch Here on PBS

Farm to Institution

What would our food systems look like if we sourced directly from farmers? Check out our three-video series in collaboration with Nourish Colorado and the University of Colorado Colorado Springs on the institutional procurement of local foods as a vehicle for supporting Colorado’s local farms, and providing access to fresh, healthy food to a wider swath of all of our communities.

Farm to Institution

What is a Co-Op?

What is Co-Operation?