The California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF), a nonprofit organization that provides organic certification, education, advocacy and promotion, last week honored National Co+op Grocers (NCG) with its first CCOF Foundation Organic Champion Award at its 2017 annual conference, “Organic Inspiration and Innovation: Ideas that Are Changing the Way We Grow.” NCG is the business services co-op for 148 retail food co-ops nationwide, including Monadnock Food Co-op! We are proud to be part of this co-op and all they do for both our own business and the organic farming industry.
The award recognizes the history of partnerships between NCG and CCOF on initiatives to support established and future organic farmers, both in the United States and abroad, and NCG for the organization’s commitment to the organic community.
“Among the challenges to meet the rising demand for organic products that are healthy for both people and the planet is the need for new organic farmers and entrepreneurs. CCOF is proud to partner with NCG to address this challenge and build opportunity for those wishing to enter the organic marketplace,” said CCOF Executive Director and CEO Cathy Calfo. “We are changing the face of agriculture with strong partnerships that reach to the corners of the food industry, and this is just the beginning.”
NCG has been a strong supporter of CCOF Foundation’s Future Organic Farmer Grant Fund, partnering with dozens of organic brands to raise over $50,000 in 2015 and contributing an additional $50,000 to the fund the following year. This Fund is the only one in the United States that exclusively targets the study and teaching of organic agriculture. It aims to increase the supply of organic through investing in the next generation of organic producers, from kindergarten through college, with a focus on disadvantaged communities and students who demonstrate financial need.
Most recently, NCG asked the CCOF Foundation to serve as the 501(c)(3) fiscal sponsor for its October 2016 “Co-ops Grow Communities” promotion, which raised $80,000 for the Argentina-based La Riojana cooperative, the first Fair Trade Certified olive oil producer in Latin America.
While La Riojana’s olive oil is already certified organic, many of the cooperative’s members are also growing wine grapes using organic methods, but due to financial constraints have not yet applied for organic certification for their grapes. The La Riojana Fund will reimburse certification costs for more than eighty farm families, allowing them the opportunity to market their wines as made with organic grapes. You can currently buy this wine on the shelves of our co-op without organic certification, but the piece of mind the organic certification gives consumers who don’t have time to research the production methods of every product they buy is tremendously valuable for both the growth of these small family farms and the organic industry in general.
“We have been grateful to be able to team up with CCOF on a variety of endeavors to advance organic agriculture,” said Shrader, CEO of NCG “When our community of farmers, certifiers, manufacturers, retailers and consumers join forces to champion organic, our collective efforts deliver meaningful impact, from students granted the opportunity to grow their first organic crop to Argentinian farmers welcomed into the organic marketplace.”
Brands donating to the La Riojana Fund include:
- Alter Eco
- Divine Chocolate
- Dr. Bronner’s
- Equal Exchange
- Maggie’s Organics
- Organic Valley
- Shady Maple Farms
- Theo Chocolate