At our July 2012 meeting, the Bloomingfoods board viewed the film Food for Change, part one. This documentary reports on the history of co-ops in America. One hundred seventy years ago, the first co-op sold butter, sugar, flour and candles to its owner-members, people joining together to provide for their basic needs.
Early co-ops were founded by citizens in need. Thirteen million Americans had lost their jobs in 1933. Sixty percent of the population were in subsistence living conditions. It was here in the midwest that the co-op movement began. By 1938, there were 15 regional co-op warehouses and every kind of business from co-op food, clothing, and hardware to gas stations and oil refineries!
Around the world, there are more than 1.4 million cooperatively owned businesses, with more than 800 million members, all sharing the same values and principles. An estimated 30,000 cooperatives in the United States operate 73,000 places of business, own more than $3 trillion in assets, and generate over $500 billion in revenue and $25 billion in wages. As member-owners of Bloomingfoods, we are a part of a worldwide network of innovative, values-driven enterprises across many sectors of life.
Bloomingfoods is now the proud owner of a beautifully restored 1947 Co-op Model E-3 tractor. Manufactured by Cockshutt Farm Equipment, Ltd. in Branford, Ontario, this model was sold throughout the U.S. in the 1940s and 1950s to local farmer-owned cooperatives.
We are proud to own and use this beautifully restored tractor, reminding us as it does of the small family farms we care about and the cooperative business model we practice. We intend to use the E-3 for a variety of chores and events around our facilities and the town. For now, you can introduce yourself to the Co-op tractor over at the East store, near the Garden Center!