New Co-ops Join Principle Six Initiative


Four new food co-ops have recently joined Principle Six. They include: Eastside Co-op, Minneapolis, Minnesota; Three Rivers Co-op, Knoxville, Tennessee; Viroqua Food Co-op, Viroqua, Wisconsin; Weavers Way Co-op, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

“Principle Six is an alignment tool—a way to deepen the conversation about food and justice,” says Sean Doyle, general manager of Seward Co-op Grocery and Deli, now the home base of the project. Aaron Reser, the recently hired national P6 coordinator, has her desk at Seward Co-op. Aaron has been traveling to the P6 co-ops, helping launch the program and make it more visible in our stores. She recently coordinated a Twin Cities P6 meeting that included tours of both Eastside and Seward Co-ops.

Principle Six is an initiative in support of small farmers, artisan producers, local growers, and cooperative supply chains. In our stores, you will increasingly see Principle Six products marked with the P6 logo, reserved for items that meet at least two of these three criteria: • Small farmer or artisan, human-scale production • LocalCo-op or non-profit.

One goal of Principle Six is to increase market access for small farmers, both locally and around the world. As a member of P6, our co-op aims to improve cooperative supply chains and ensure economic justice on behalf of the people who grow our food. These may include the co-op farmers who grow fairly traded coffee in South America (for example), as well as the roasters in our community who add value to the product, create local jobs, and distribute the coffee.

Founding members of the P6 initiative include:

Bloomingfoods, Bloomington, Indiana

Brattleboro Food Co-op, Brattleboro, Vermont

Community Mercantile (‘the Merc’), Lawrence, Kansas

Davis Food Co-op, Davis, California

Equal Exchange, Bridgewater, Massachussets

Seward Food Co-op, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Willy Street Co-op, Madison, Wisconsin

Over the past two years we have been working with the other founders to begin to develop a sustainable organizational structure to carry Principle Six into the future. One aspect of our effort is increased communication among the P6 co-ops. We share resources and ideas, discuss the challenges of global and local commerce, and explore our connecting principles and values.

Welcoming these new P6 food co-ops is one way Bloomingfoods has recognized the 2012 International Year of Cooperatives, a United Nations designated effort to promote cooperation around the world. While 2012 is coming to an end, a decade of cooperative development is underway. It enables us to consider the promise offered by co-ops across many sectors of the economy— from food to shelter, commercial services, education, and energy. Principle Six gives us a way to work with others across the cooperative landscape to access food that supports our highest values.