The neighborhood store takes on new meaning with the launch this week of the High Plains Food Co-op (HPFC). Using the web to connect markets on the Front Range with producers in eastern Colorado and western Kansas, HPFC gives urban consumers instant access to a variety of wholesome local food.
Rocky Mountain Farmers Union (RMFU) helped HPFC obtain federal money to turn their idea into a reality. Through the RMFU Cooperative Development Center (CDC), RMFU also provided consulting assistance during the development process. “Moving the co-op model to the Internet poses some special challenges,” CDC Director Ben Rainbolt said. “The people at High Plains have learned from other successful web-based cooperatives like OklahomaFood.coop and NebraskaFood.org. This kind of creative problem-solving gives consumers an alternative to food of unknown origin and gives producers a market they rely on. It’s a win/win situation for urban and rural interests.”
HPFC currently offers a wide variety of products, from pork and beef to fresh eggs, vegetables, and spices (including catnip). Members order products during the first two weeks of the month for delivery on the third Thursday their pick-up location, 7th and Kalamath near downtown Denver.
HPFC is accepting charter memberships until July 1 (or 150 enrollments). Consumer members pay $100 for a charter membership. Producer members pay the same membership fee, but they must also meet an approval process that guarantees products will be local and that principles of sustainable, environmentally sound agriculture are being followed.
“High Plains Food Co-op puts your farmers market a keyboard away,” Rainbolt said. To enroll, go to highplainsfood.org.