Fertile Ground Food Cooperative

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.

February 2012:  Refined the Concept Paper and developed a steering committee.

May 2012:  Developed a plan to hold a series of listening sessions with community members about the concept.

July 2012: Held the first Listening Session

August 2012: Held the second Listening Session.

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.

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 (Community Meeting #1).

July 2013:  Core Leadership Team incorporated Fertile Ground Food Cooperative and applied for the Voices in Action Mini-Grant for $2,000.

August 2013: FGFC holds its second Community Meeting “Good and (Healthy) Food”, co-sponsored by Inter-Faith Food Shuttle (Community Meeting #2 attended by over 70 people), and applied for Food Cooperative Initiative Grant to pay for Feasibility Study (not funded).  Core Leadership Team develops Working Committees (Finance, Bylaws, Grants, Marketing, Feasibility Study, and Research). FGFC featured in an article by the Indy Weekly.

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), and applied for the Beehive Collective Grant to pay for Feasibility Study (not funded).

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.  Core Leadership Team members are interviewed by Beehive Collective representatives.  40 Community Members attend 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.  Approximately 20 people attend the event.  We are advised that we among four finalists in the Beehive Collective grant competition (not funded).

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. FGFC featured in an article in the Indy Weekly.

February 2014:  FGFC holds Community Meeting #6 at Biltmore Hills Community Center to launch Founding Member campaign to raise funds for feasibility study.  Three new members join the Core Leadership Team and other community members volunteer to work on committees. We review a short video on FGFC to use for presentations, grant, and crowdsourcing funding.  We reserve a domain name to begin work on a web site.

March 2014:  FGFC holds Community Meeting #7 at The Wetlands Center to continue committee work on marketing, outreach, and grant prospects.  Approximately 30 people attend this event. A Request for Proposals for a Market and Feasibility Study was prepared and distributed. Three community members take a field trip to Company Shops in Burlington.  Work is begun on the FGFC web site.

April 2014:  FGFC holds Community Meeting #8 at Chavis Park Community Center.  Core Leadership Team members inform community members about a number of potential sites for the store.  Work is begun on the FGFC brochure.  The decision is made not to acquire or operate the Farmery because of lack of staffing, lack of funding, and because it would be a distraction from the group’s principal purpose of opening a grocery store.  The team submitted a pre-application to the Self-Development of People Fund which was initially denied because FGFC is not a non-profit.

May 2014:  Fertile Ground chose not to hold a community meeting in May because a number of Core Leadership Team members attended the Jackson Rising conference in Jackson, MS.  The team contacted Russ Associates to prepare a Market Study on up to 3 sites in SE Raleigh for the grocery store.  The team has requested Carolina Common Enterprise to develop a business plan to enter into the United Way’s $100K campaign against childhood hunger.  The team is applying for matching funds from Fund for Democratic Communities to pay for the Market Study of 4 sites in Southeast Raleigh. Monthly community meetings were instituted, held on the first Thursday of each month.

June 2014:  FGFC applied for matching funds from Fund for Democratic Communities and was encouraged to raise more grassroots dollars.  The decision was made to launch the Membership Campaign in July 2014.  The Fertile Ground web site was launched.  Art Pope purchased one of the sites assessed in the Market Study.

July 2014:  FGFC launched its Membership Campaign with over 25 new members signing up the first night.  Fund for Democratic Communities provided $2,500 in match funding to pay for the Market Study.  Bylaws were adopted. FGFC featured in Triangle Business Journal. FGFC featured in the Indy Weekly.

August 2014:  Members were assigned to work on committees designated in bylaws.  Zulayka Santiago, a Core Leadership Team member, submitted a proposal to Fertile Ground to become the project manager for Fertile Ground.  Core Leadership Team members agreed to the proposal conditioned on obtaining funding. Notified that Fertile Ground did not receive the award for the United Way’s campaign. FGFC featured in the Indy Weekly.

September 2014:  FGFC began working on a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for the project management proposal.  Core Leadership Team members assessed the feasibility of Stone’s Warehouse as a possible site (also targeted in the Market Study prepared by Russ & Associates). FGFC featured in article by Institute for Southern Studies

October 2014:  Board of Directors was elected by the general membership.  $5,000 gift to support the project management proposal was received by the Insight Fund at Triangle Community Foundation.  Application was made to CNEF Fund of Resourceful Communities for $15,000 to support the project manager proposal (not funded).   Erin Byrd joined the board of the New Bern Avenue Corridor Alliance, a potential strategic partnership.  Zulayka Santiago traveled to Epes, AL for COOP ECON 2014.

December 2014: Crowd funding campaign launched through Indiegogo.  Goal was $20K, raised $3,077 from 50 funders.  Received $15,000 in matching grant from Fund for Democratic Communities, and $5,000 was allocated for FGFC Project Management from a grant received by Carolina Common Enterprise from Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation.  Zulayka Santiago officially hired as Project Manager (as a consultant with CCE).

February 2015: Key volunteer Liz Crews joins FGFC as the part-time community liaison.  Zulayka and Thomas Beckett (CCE) attend the Up & Coming/Up & Running Food Cooperative Conference in Bloomington, IN. Erin Dale Byrd honored as Citizen of the Year by the Indy Weekly.

Summer 2015: Fertile Ground Develops a solid first draft of the business plan

October 2015: Fertile Ground Meets with Tashni Dubroy - Shaw University New Presidents

September 2015: Fertile Ground Invited to Join SCALE Stakeholders

Summer 2015: Develops internal processes - welcoming new members, increase FB presence.

Summer 2015: Fertile Ground Co-host Roots and Remedy Conference with the Praxis Project (over 200 attendees)

Fall 2015: Fertile Ground Tables at African American Cultural Festival and Raleigh OUT  

Fall 2015: Presentations to Carolina Farm Steward association, Slow Money Conference

Fall 2015: Carolina Common Enterprise and Fertile Ground work together to secure funding support from Z.S. Reynolds Foundation.

Fall 2015: Fertile Ground canvasses South Park recruits new members.

Winter 2015: Partnership with Grocers on Wheels Solidified. GOW brings vegetables and fruits to community meetings and launches Horns of Plenty partnership.  

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.

Fall 2016:  Fertile Ground Tables at African American Cultural Festival and Raleigh OUT

December 2016: Fertile ground holds a board retreat and commits to meet weekly to advance the project. Workgroups are strengthened and meet more regularly. Site selection committee meets weekly.

August 2017: Fertile Ground tables at the first GrassRoots Economic Festival.

September 2017: Fertile Ground presents at Black University Conference to 200 black students at HBCU colleges.

March 2017: Demetrius Hunter Represents Fertile Ground at the Upcoming Conference in Milwaukee, In.

Summer 2017: Fertile Ground included in Build Economic Opportunity Strategy in Moving Beyond Hunger: Comprehensive Food Plan 

Summer 2017: Chavis Park Empowerment Day

Fall 2017: Fertile Ground Tables at African American Cultural Festival and Raleigh OUT

Fall 2017: Fertile Ground receives matching  grant and technical assistance award from National Food Coop Initiative for $10,000

October 2017:  Jim Senter and Ajuba Joy make a presentation at Edenton Street United Methodist Church. Fertile Ground Food Cooperative holds first Owners' Retreat.  

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 2018Fertile Ground Food Cooperative's members base surpasses 300; Fertile Ground Board leaders attend Up and Coming Co-op Conference in Wisconsin

April 2018: Board President, Erin Byrd, is featured on WUNC's The State of Things

August 2018: Fertile Ground completes 3rd Summer Community Farmers Market (eight weeks).

Revised 04/30/2018