Hanover Co-op’s Unique Relationship With Local Growers Is A Model For Success

The Hanover Co-op’s Unique Relationship With Local Growers Is A Model For Success

-Partnership with farmers has brought top quality, local produce to members for decades –

Hanover Co-op’s Unique Relationship With Local Growers Is A Model For SuccessHanover, NH – For one of the oldest and most successful Co-ops in the country, relationships with local grower partners is critically important. That’s one reason the Hanover Co-op (Hanover Consumer Co-operative Society) hosts its’ Annual Growers Meeting in Hanover, NH each February. For 80 years, this cooperative has established fruitful relationships with farmers to bring local produce to their food store shelves for members and customers alike. Created in 1998, the Co-op’s Growers Meeting has become a game-changer for local producers as they work to survive and thrive in today’s marketplace.

Prior to the beginning of each season, the Co-op establishes specific growers for each crop and agrees to buy produce from these individuals throughout the season at its Annual Growers Meeting. The meeting also supports Co-ops’ commitment to sell ethically, responsibly grown food and safeguard future farm security and stability in the Upper Valley region.

“Local grower partners are incredibly important to the Co-op, and we provide farmers with advantages they wouldn’t have elsewhere,” said Allan Reetz, Director of Communications at the Hanover Co-op. “At the Growers Meeting, we sit at the table together and discuss what everyone wants to grow or drop for the year. This gives growers the assurance of having a market for their produce, which also gives them the ability to plan their entire harvest well in advance of the growing season. They also have the opportunity to make sure they not competing with other farms and to set pricing.”

This year’s friendly business gathering brought together Co-op produce buyers, produce managers and 15 local grower partners. Many farmers have been in business with the Co-op for decades, while others are young growers who are making a commitment to the land and the business of local agriculture.

“The relationship we group of farmers have with the Hanover Co-op is really unique, and sometimes I take it for granted,” said Jake Guest from Kildeer Farm in Norwich, VT, and a partner of the Co-op for 40 years. “They provide a great deal of value to the people who are members, but I’m not sure people realize how much they do for farmers, from going to bat for us, their education program, and more.”

“We have a very unique relationship that’s distinguishable from other stores that claim to support local, but don’t offer us pricing that reflects our costs,” added Tim Taylor of Crossroad Farm in Post Mills, VT, who has been a partner of the Co-op for nearly 20 years.

The 2016 Annual Growers Meeting agenda included:

  •      -Confirming the 2016 season ordering, pricing and delivery list
  •      -A colorful brainstorm about in-store merchandising, farm tastings and events
  •      -Co-op business update
  •      -Vermont GMO labeling standards update
  •      -Ways to address hunger and food waste in the community
  •     – Visions for future partnership with growers

“Local and organic is very important to this group,” said veteran grower Ray Sprague of Edgewater Farm in Plainfield, NH. “There is a broader, big business effort to undermine these values and we can rally around the Co-op’s efforts to buy local and organic crops. As farmers, we may all be in friendly competition, but we have group values in common. For some of us, if it wasn’t for the Hanover Co-op, we might have folded years ago.”

About The Hanover Consumer Co-operative Society

The Hanover Consumer Co-operative Society, more commonly referred to as The Hanover Co-op, is a member-owned consumer cooperative. It began in New Hampshire in 1936. Their mission is to provide their members and customers with top quality products, with a variety of local and regional products, at fair prices. The Co-op is one of the oldest and most successful in the United States. It is owned by more than 30,000 member families and has locations in both New Hampshire and Vermont. To learn more about the Hanover Co-op, please visit www.coopfoodstore.coop.