What is a Cooperative


Cooperatives are different from ordinary businesses because they are owned by their members. You become a member of the cooperative by buying a share ($100 lifetime membership fee). When the cooperative generates a profit, it is reinvested in the co-op or returned to the owners as patronage rebate/dividends.

What is a Multi-Stakeholder Cooperative?


A multi-stakeholder cooperative means that there will be 3 different types of memberships: consumer, producer and worker. Once FGFC is in operation, each membership type will have representation on the board of directors (3 each).

What principles guide the cooperative?

  1. Voluntary and Open Membership
  2. Democratic Member Control
  3. Members' Economic Participation
  4. Autonomy and Independence
  5. Education, Training and Information
  6. Cooperation among Cooperatives
  7. Concern for Community

Go to the link below to learn more about cooperatives


What does it mean to be a member-owner?


One member/One Vote! A cooperative business is democratically run by its member-owners. Meaning that you can have a direct impact on what the company does. This makes the cooperative a collaboration of ALL the members, and should be representative of the community it serves. This puts more POWER and RESPONSIBILITY in the hands of those that are affected by the choices of the cooperative, the members. All members are invited to attend monthly community meetings where concerns can be addressed and decisions are made by a simple majority. Anyone will be able to shop at Fertile Ground Food Cooperative, but it will be the members that make it work.

What are the benefits of being a member-owner NOW?


Given that we are still in the start-up phase (and there is no store just yet) it is not possible for us to offer any tangible benefits. That being said, you can be confident that with your contribution you are making a concrete investment in creating a better world! This coop is dedicated to creating a stronger community in Southeast Raleigh through the creation of living wage jobs, building local just economies, partaking in and supporting sustainable practices, providing affordable/healthy food, and creating a place to connect with your neighbors. Once the store is open, we can explore the possibility of providing member discounts and profit-sharing (of course this will all be decided by YOU, our members).

How many member-owners do you currently have?


As of June 2019, we have 325 members (and growing!). Our goal is to reach at least 1000 before store opening.

What will the benefits of being a member-owner once the store is open?


By being an Owner you:

  • Receive special in-store offers and discounts that may include coupons;
  • Receive Patronage Rebates/dividend once the store is profitable;
  • Are eligible to vote for the Executive Board of Directors as well as to run for a seat on the Board;
  • Can participate in events, workshops and classes offered by the Co-op at no or reduced cost;
  • Are investing in and supporting our local community and helping keep our local economy strong by promoting local shopping, local products and by providing jobs paying fair wages;
  • Help support family farms, fair trade practices, nutritional education, regional artisan foods, organic foods, local employment, healthy food access and sustainability.

How do I become a member-owner?


It’s easy! You invest a one-time $100 for an equity share. It can be paid all at once or in 4 installments of $25. More information about Ownership is available here.

How can you be more actively involved?


FGFC holds MONTHLY COMMUNITY MEETINGS. These take place the fourth Saturday of the month, at The 568 E Lenoir St, Raleigh, NC 27601. In addition to this, FGFC has COMMITTEES that help push the work of the coop forward. Here is a list of our existing committees and the board members that are helping to co-lead its work (emails below)!

What will the cooperative sell?


The plan FGFC is to be a community-owned grocery store serving both natural and cleanconventional products. This means that we plan to offer products that are locally-grown and raised, a full line of organics, and nutritious and fairly traded items, AND also carry some of the staple conventional items to address community needs and affordability.

Do I have to be a member-owner to shop there?


Everyone is welcome to shop at the Co-op once it opens – regardless of whether or not you are an Owner. However, Owners receive benefits reserved just for them.

Where will the store be located?


It will be located in Southeast Raleigh, Wake County, NC but the exact physical site hasn’t been named yet. Our Board of Directors will work with industry professionals to secure a location that meets the requirements important to our Owners. Soon as we have a confirmed site, you can be sure we will be excited to share it.

When will the store open?


Opening a Food Co-op is a process that involves three phases: Organizing, Feasibility and Planning, Implementation. Fertile Ground is in Stage 2a (Feasibility). We are currently progressing well through the phases and working towards opening sometime in 2021 (if all goes well!).

What framework is FGFC using for this process?


As a starting point FGFC is using the development model promulgated by the Food Co-op Initiative, the primary support organization for "mainstream" food co-ops. Their Four Cornerstones/Three Stages model provides a comprehensive approach to cooperative development, and we see no reason to reinvent the wheel. To learn more about the Four Cornerstones and Three Stages: http://www.foodcoopinitiative.coop/about/model

How can we help make this happen?

  • Become an Owner!
  • Stay informed about the Co-op through our website and Facebook.
  • SHARE THE CO-OP story with all your “Circles of Influence” (friends, family, co-workers, church members, civic groups, etc). Distribute our Co-op brochure. Share our social media posts.
  • Contact us to schedule a presentation for a group or organization.

What has Fertile Ground Food Cooperative accomplished so far?


FGFC has grown from an idea to an incorporated entity in just a few short years. To see our full list of accomplishments/timeline, please see our TIMELINE on the website.

Seems like it’s taking forever to open the store. Why is it taking so long?


As mentioned above, the start-up of a food co-op is a multi-phase process. While it seems a bit long and drawn-out, it is important to properly go through the phases to ensure the independence and sustainability of the business. All well-planned and executed businesses go through this, but in a co-op transparency is in the forefront because all the owners are equal, and our community is our major stakeholder. FGFC is right on target reaching its goals and progressing everyday toward opening. We look forward to celebrating opening day with you!

What is the Board of Directors’ role and is anyone else involved in getting the co-op started?


The Board of Directors is an elected body responsible for overseeing the affairs of the co-op on behalf of the Owners. The board must act as whole; individual directors have no authority outside of the board meetings, except as delegated by the board as a whole. They have three main responsibilities: To act as trustees on behalf of the members; To ensure sound management of the co-op; To set long-range goals and plan for the co-op’s future. 
Fertile Ground Food Cooperative is also working with Carolina Common Enterprise for technical assistance and support. They are a cooperative consulting company that specializes in helping co-ops get started as well as to provide on-going training to board members and staff.

Additionally, in December 2014 Zulayka Santiago was hired to become FGFC’s Project Manager. Zulayka is a long-time volunteer and former core leadership team member. Have an idea to share? Please send it to [email protected] 

Who can you contact with questions, comments or suggestions?


Janet Howard currently serves as FGFC’s Project Manager. You can feel free to reach out to her (or one of the board members listed above): [email protected]