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WHERE WE’VE BEEN
Fertile Ground’s story begins in December 2011, when a group of dedicated residents and community organizers began meeting to explore the concept of a cooperatively owned coffeehouse and meeting space in 2011. After two Kroger supermarkets closed in Southeast Raleigh in 2013, the group developed a concept for a cooperatively-owned grocery store, that would meet the community’s need for healthy food access and a safe community gathering space.
After witnessing how corporate decisions resulted in the loss of local grocery stores, our group knew that any new grocery solution needed to be accountable to the community it served (longtime Black residents of Southeast Raleigh), rather than outsiders. Our concept of a community-owned grocery store is based on the premise that groceries are an essential part of life for everyone, and everyone deserves access to high-quality food. Throughout the years, our cooperative has advanced this concept with the primary driving force of making a deep investment in an alternative business model that builds a solidarity economy in Southeast Raleigh. We are excited to keep moving this effort forward!
This brief video from 2014 shares some of Fertile Ground’s goals, and highlights the many community members who have been part of our work.
A BRIEF TIMELINE
2011-2012: STARTING THE CONCEPT
December 2011: Held the first visioning session for thinking partners to discuss a Cooperative Coffeehouse (modeled after Busboys and Poets in Washington DC).
January 2012: Developed the Concept Paper for Fertile Ground and applied for the Echoing Green fellowship. The idea evolved to incorporate healthy eating and ‘triple bottom line’ concepts.
May-August 2012: Planned and held a series of listening sessions with community members about the concept.
October 2012: Sent a contingent of interested stakeholders to attend the Cooperative Economies Conference at the Federation of Southern Cooperatives Training Center in Epes, Alabama.
2013: EVOLVING TO MEET COMMUNITY NEEDS
January 2013: Two Kroger Supermarkets close in Southeast Raleigh, further exacerbating food desert status for the area and prompting the evolution of the concept from coffee house to food cooperative.
February 2013: Carolina Common Enterprise (CCE), a NC cooperative development center, begins consulting with the group.
March 2013: Core Leadership Team is solidified.
May 2013: Core Leadership Team organized presentations of the Fertile Ground at CAC meetings.
June 2013: Core Leadership Team organizes a successful Community Meeting with over 40 attendees at Christian Faith Baptist Church.
August 2013: FGFC holds its second Community Meeting “Good and (Healthy) Food”, co-sponsored by Inter-Faith Food Shuttle.
September 2013: FGFC holds a second “Good and (Healthy) Food Event” at the Hoke Street Garden, co-sponsored by Inter-Faith Food Shuttle (Community Meeting #3).
October 2013: Each member of the Core Leadership Team contributes membership fees as seed money. Bylaws, Feasibility Study, and Research Committees make recommendations to the Core Leadership Team at half-day retreat. Decision is made to hold monthly community meetings and monthly team meetings.
November 2013: Community Meeting #4 held at Worthdale Community Center to watch “Food Inc.” documentary on where our food comes from. Inter-Faith Food Shuttle co-sponsors the event.
December 2013: FGFC holds Community Meeting #5 at Christian Faith Baptist Church to watch segments of “Shift Change,” a documentary about worker-owned cooperatives.
2014-2015: BUILDING OUT THE ORGANIZATION
January 2014: Core Leadership Team members meet to plan for 2014 action steps, including Communications and Outreach planning, input for feasibility study, and match funding from Fund for Democratic Communities. Core Leadership Team members investigate potential sites for grocery store.
March-May 2014: FGFC prepares and distributes Request for Proposals (RFP) for a market and feasibility study, and begin work on the website. The team contracts with Russ Associates to prepare a Market Study on up to 3 sites in SE Raleigh for the grocery store.
July 2014: FGFC launched its Membership Campaign with over 25 new members signing up the first night. This campaign is followed by press coverage from several outlets.
July-August 2014: FGFC adopts its bylaws, and members are assigned to work on committees as designated in the bylaws.
October 2014: FGFC’s general membership elects its first Board of Directors.
December 2014: FGFC launches a crowdfunding campaign through Indiegogo, raising over $20,000 through direct donations and matching grants fro the Fund for Democratic Communities, Carolina Common Enterprise, and the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation.
Spring–Summer 2015: FGFC drafts and completes an initial version of its business plan.
Fall 2015: FGFC canvasses in the South Park community to conduct deep listening sessions and recruit new members.
Winter 2015: FGFC develops a partnership with Grocers on Wheels to distribute free vegetables and fruits at community meetings and other events.
2016-2018: GROWING OUR REPUTATION
January 2016: Fertile Grounds moves to Nationbuilder, revises website and moves membership application process online.
March 2016: Demetrius Hunter attends Up and Coming Conference in Bloomington IN to represent Fertile Ground.
Summer 2016: Fertile Ground Launches first Farmers market.
March 2017: Demetrius Hunter Represents Fertile Ground at the Upcoming Conference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Fall 2016: Fertile Ground tables at African American Cultural Festival and Raleigh OUT
Summer 2017: Fertile Ground included in Build Economic Opportunity Strategy in Moving Beyond Hunger: Comprehensive Food Plan,
Summer-Fall 2017: FGFC tables or presents at community events including the GrassRoots Economic Festival, Black University Conference, Chavis Park Empowerment Day, African American Cultural Festival, Raleigh OUT, and Edenton Street United Methodist Church.
October 2017: FGFC holds its first annual Member-Owners' Retreat.
2018-2021: GROWING OUR IMPACT
February 2018: Fertile Ground launches a month-long crowdfunding campaign with a goal of $5,500, surpassing that goal with final funds raised at $6,135 that will finance a market study
March 2018: Fertile Ground Food Cooperative's membership base surpasses 300.
Summer 2018: Fertile Ground conducts and completes its 3rd Summer Community Farmers Market (eight weeks).
Spring 2020: Fertile Ground responds to COVID-19 pandemic by starting a community food distribution in partnership with Southeast Raleigh Table and other community partners.
April-November 2020: Fertile Ground is a community partner in bringing the Black Farmers’ Market to Raleigh. During the initial season, FGFC tables during the monthly markets at the Southeast Raleigh YMCA.
Summer 2021: Fertile Ground renews their food distribution program, by partnering with the Black Farmers’ Hub and Grocers on Wheels to provide free, fresh produce to Southeast Raleigh families.
Become a Member Owner Today!
General Membership - $100
Your member-owner share is a one-time purchase of $100. This share extends to you and any other members of your household.
Want to support the work of Fertile Ground but don't plan on shopping at our store? Give to our solidarity fund! Your pledge will contribute towards the funds that make our $25 solidarity memberships possible.