Cooperating for Childcare

Rural Ohioans are more than two times as likely to live in an area without enough licensed childcare providers than their fellow citizens in urban areas of the state.[1] In West Virginia, 78% of rural families live in areas considered a “childcare desert.” A “childcare desert” is any census tract with more than 50 children younger than age 5 where there are either no childcare providers or where there are more than three times as many children as licensed childcare slots.[2]

Childcare providers in Appalachia may face challenges with profitability, even when they receive available public support, along with challenges around regulatory compliance and insurance.[3] The childcare sector across the county is projected to experience a decline in employment over the next eight years, despite estimates that there are projected to be approximately 153,000 openings for childcare workers each year, on average.[4]

Colorful children's toys like letter blocks, legos, and shapes on a multi-colored background.

Some communities, providers, and employers have turned to the cooperative model to help meet their childcare needs.[5] Cooperatives are businesses owned, controlled, and used by people with mutual needs using a democratic approach. Childcare cooperatives can take various forms, including:

  • Childcare worker cooperatives where providers jointly own and operate a childcare center, like Shine Nurture Center in or Beyond Care Childcare Cooperative.
  • Parent-led childcare cooperatives where parents cooperate to meet their childcare needs while jointly setting policies and democratically governing the group.
  • Early childcare providers working together to jointly purchase goods, provide resources like curriculum, and create leave programs, like CoRise Cooperative.
  • Employer-assisted cooperatives where employers help develop a cooperatively owned and operated childcare program to enhance the benefits available to their employees, like Energy Capital Cooperative Child Care.

For more information about and resource for cooperatives in the childcare sector, visit: https://uwcc.wisc.edu/resources/childcare/.

On Tuesday, April 30, 2024, from 10am-11am Eastern, the CFAES Center for Cooperatives at Ohio State will host a virtual roundtable focused on childcare in West Virginia. Kristy Ritz, Executive Director of the West Virginia Association for Young Children, will speak about the association’s work and challenges faced by childcare providers in the region. Staff from the CFAES Center for Cooperatives will share resources to explore cooperative models in the industry.

Register for the free, online event on March 25, 2024, at: go.osu.edu/wvchildcare

 

This virtual learning program is part of the Center’s Appalachia Cooperates Initiative, a learning and peer-exchange network connecting cooperative, community, business, and economic developers and advocates in Central Appalachia to resources about the cooperative business model. Find more information about the Initiative and recordings of past learning programs at: go.osu.edu/appalachiacooperates.

 

Data Sources:

[1] “Expanding Child Care in Rural Ohio,” Groundwork Ohio. Accessed March 19, 2024. https://www.groundworkohio.org/_files/ugd/d114b9_0a1c37a29b9d46149e444fb3f46bd3a7.pdf

[2] “Childcare Access in the United States,” Center for American Progress. Accessed March 19, 2024. https://childcaredeserts.org/2018/#:~:text=In%20the%20United%20States%2C%2051,enough%20licensed%20child%20care%20providers.

[3] “Appalachian Early Childhood Network,” (July 21, 2021). Mountain Association. https://mtassociation.org/business-support/appalachian-early-childhood-network-2/

[4] “Childcare Workers,” Occupational Outlook Handbook, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Accessed March 19, 2024. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/personal-care-and-service/childcare-workers.htm#:~:text=early%20childhood%20education.-,Pay,was%20%2413.22%20in%20May%202021.

[5] “Childcare,” University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives. Accessed March 19, 2024. https://mtassociation.org/business-support/appalachian-early-childhood-network-2/; “Early childcare and education cooperatives can help build economic power.” (December 13, 2022). U.S. Department of Agriculture and NCBA CLUSA. https://ncbaclusa.coop/blog/early-childcare-and-education-cooperatives-can-help-build-economic-power/

Center for Cooperatives Presenting at 2024 OEFFA Conference

Welcome to a new year, as January is already proving to be a busy and exciting time for us.  The OSU Center for Cooperatives is excited to be invited to speak at the 2024 Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) 45th Annual Conference.  This year’s conference will be held at the Cherry Valley Hotel in Newark, OH on February 15th– 17th, and this year’s theme, Cultivating Care, is reflective of how accurate and essential care is in our community.  The conference features over 50 workshops from farmers markets to livestock management, numerous exhibits for shopping and networking, locally sourced meals and keynote presentations- ‘My Favorite Mistake’ and ‘Pathways to a Caring and Sustainable Future’ with Jim Embry.

Our team will present a session “Farmers Working Together: Collaborations in Marketing, Purchasing, and Equipment to Improve Your Farm’s Bottom Line” during the Friday morning workshop.  Attendees will be presented with a framework that identifies and discusses challenges that farmers face in marketing, distribution, and acquiring their supplies and equipment, as well as discussion of collaborative approaches to help farmers resolve those challenges and struggles.  Farmers and service providers with some experience in agriculture will have the working knowledge to identify and understand these challenges as well as ways to pursue strategies that are essential to an already functional farm business.

Collaborative approaches to marketing, purchasing, and equipment sharing can be opportunities for farmers to save time, enter new markets, lower costs, and more. In this session you will learn about collaborative strategies in food and farming and joint marketing models via multi-farm CSAs and co-op markets, cooperative supply purchasing, and equipment sharing. You will be introduced to collaborative models in food and farm marketing and distribution as well as supply and equipment access, the problems these approaches may help farmers solve, and important considerations farmers and service providers using cooperative approaches.

Throughout the two-day conference, attendees can talk and network with vendors from across the state, while enjoying locally sourced foods and products that aide in making farm life easier and more enjoyable for everyone.  For more information and registration details click here.

Cooperative Frameworks in Ohio

An enterprise’s legal structure informs who is in control and how they exercise their control, who is liable for losses by or actions of the organization, how the enterprise raises capital, and who receives income and suffers losses, among other characteristics of the enterprise.

Business entities are organized according to state law and there is great diversity in the cooperative laws across the United States.

For a deeper dive into the framework for cooperatives under the Ohio Cooperative Law, including the key roles of members, explore these educational resources.

Image of cover for "Key Roles of Members in Ohio Cooperatives" resource.  Image of cover for "12 Key Roles of Members in Ohio Cooperatives Infographic" resource.Image of cover for "Quick Summary: Ohio's Cooperative Law" resource.

 

 

 

This information is provided for educational purposes only. It is not legal advice. It is not a substitute for the potential need to consult with a competent attorney licensed to practice law in the appropriate jurisdiction.

 

References

O’Brien, D., Hamilton, N., & Luedeman, R. (2005). “The Farmer’s Legal Guide to Producer Marketing Associations.” Drake University Agricultural Law Center. Retrieved from https://nationalaglawcenter.org/wp-content/uploads/assets/articles/obrien_producermarketing_intro.pdf

Student Cooperative Start-up Toolkit

A Guide to Creating Your Own Student-Led Agricultural Co-op

Student Cooperative Start-up Toolkit cover photo

A student-led cooperative, where young people in an agricultural class, 4-H club, FFA chapter, or other group, operate an enterprise using cooperative principles, may be an opportunity to teach young people entrepreneurial skills and the unique aspects of the cooperative business model, which is an important part of American agriculture.

Cooperatives are an important part of American agriculture. As of 2019, over 1.8 million farmers, ranchers, and fishermen were members of agricultural cooperatives. Cooperatives market a wide range of commodities like fruits and vegetables, cotton, grains and oilseeds, dairy, nuts, livestock, wool, and more. They provide financing for agribusinesses and farmers and they help producers access inputs and new technologies. The user-owned and controlled business model is not new – the first documented farmer cooperatives in the United States were initiated around 1810. In the Buckeye state, farmers started a cooperative effort to market hogs in 1820. If you’re involved in agriculture in the United States, chances are you interact with the cooperative business model.

At the student-led cooperative farm at the Ohio Valley Career & Technical Center’s Agribusiness Management program in West Union, Ohio, students gain real-world experience as they manage their school’s 300-acre farm where they raise row crops, livestock, and more. Since 2016, students have used a student-led cooperative model in their program, an approach initiated by their instructor, Mr. Luke Rhonemus.

Students can become a ‘member’ of the co-op and are eligible to serve on the student-elected board of directors, which helps make decisions about the farm alongside Mr. Rhonemus. Eventually, the students and Mr. Rhonemus hope alumni of the program can join the cooperative to market their locally produced farm products.

As part of a project funded by the Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SARE) program of USDA focused on enhancing the student-led cooperative model, the CFAES Center for Cooperatives at Ohio State has collaborated with Mr. Rhonemus and others to provide education and training for students on the cooperative model, agribusiness marketing, and production-related areas like meat butchery. Specialists with the CFAES Center for Cooperatives and the OSU Extension Direct Food and Agricultural Marketing program helped the students and instructor develop a marketing plan and conservation plan for their farm and to implement parts of the plan to enhance their student-led school farm co-op.

Educators, advisors, and community leaders interested in developing a similar student-led cooperative learning experience in agriculture can explore a recently developed toolkit to explore, understand, and develop the model. The toolkit includes ideas for activities, links to resources and videos, and templates that educators can make their own. Users will need to consider their specific circumstances, consult with advisors, and tailor their approach.

Student Cooperative Start-up Toolkit: A Guide to Creating Your Own Student-Led Agricultural Co-op

 

This material is based upon work that is supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under agreement number 2019-38640-29879 through the North Central Region SARE program under project number LNC19-428. USDA is an equal opportunity employer and service provider. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Learn more about SARE at: https://northcentral.sare.org/.

Online Resource “Co-op Mastery” Refreshed and Open for Learning!

An illustration of multicolored connected gears, puzzle pieces, light bulb, and arrow on a light yellow background.

A lot has changed since 2018.

When the CFAES Center for Cooperatives launched the online learning platform Co-op Mastery: Beyond Cooperatives 101 in 2018, our goal was the create a resource for cooperative stakeholders where they could learn about the unique business model through accessible learning materials. We used infographics, videos with co-op experts, recorded presentations, and brief articles. We shared the platform and associated workbook with stakeholders, including people exploring new cooperative ideas.

But in the early part of 2023, we recognized that our team and others in the cooperative community had generated a lot of knowledge and learning resources since 2018. Often, we were referring people to these updated resources, so we launched a refresh of Co-op Mastery to reflect new knowledge and incorporate new learning materials.

Visit Co-op Mastery: Beyond Cooperatives 101 at go.osu.edu/coopmastery.

 

Refreshed Co-op Mastery Highlights

In the refreshed Co-op Mastery, you will find some of the original materials developed for Co-op Mastery, but you will also find references to new knowledge and materials.

You will find links to recent webinars about housing cooperatives, video tours of Ohio cooperatives, and new data about worker cooperatives in the refreshed Cooperatives in the Community page.

Some of these materials come from the 13 recordings of online learning sessions about the cooperative business model that were part of the Center-led Appalachia Cooperates Initiative from 2020-2023. From a webinar about “Selling to Your Workers” in September 2023 to a dive into “Legal Frameworks for Cooperatives in West Virginia” in 2022, and more, the recordings are available to the public at: go.osu.edu/appalachiacooperates.

In Co-op Mastery’s Cooperative Benefits and Principles you can explore a real-world example of the international cooperative principles by watching a webinar featuring leaders of an emerging Ohio cooperative working to grow new farmers.

Learn about the key roles of directors and members through new research from the University Wisconsin’s Cooperative Governance Research Initiative and links to recent resources like the guide Navigating Your Legal Duties: A Guide for Agricultural Cooperative Directors, published by the National Agricultural Law Center in 2021 and co-authored by CFAES Center for Cooperatives Program Director, Hannah Scott.

Explore the legal foundations of cooperatives in the refreshed Cooperative Frameworks section of Co-op Mastery that includes a video interview with a cooperative attorney and links to new resources like a National Agricultural Law Center compilation of state statutes that govern the formation of agricultural cooperatives as of 2022 and a “State-by-State Co-op Law” resource focused on worker cooperatives from the Sustainable Economies Law Center’s Co-opLaw.org.

Our team continues to refresh content related to building a new cooperative, so we encourage you to check back on the growing learning resource!

Cooperatives: Rooted. Resilient. Ready.

The OSU CFAES Center for Cooperatives staff started off National Co-op Month with the pleasure of attending the NCBA Clusa  2023 Cooperative Impact Conference this past October in Washington D.C.

The theme this year was ‘Rooted, Resilient, Ready’ with hundreds of cooperators gathering to learn from one another, listen to presenters who are experts in their fields and speak to legislator about the cooperative difference.

Prior to the conference beginning, staff was able to attend the St. Mary’s University Cooperative Governance session. The morning was spent with more than 65 cooperators from all across the globe gathered at the National Cooperative Bank (NCB) headquarters to expand their cooperative knowledge pertaining to board governance, the cooperative model and research.

This three day educational conference spotlighted hot topics such as Artificial Intelligence and its place in cooperatives, engaging in worker cooperatives, and how to build the next generation of cooperators.

Rev. Dr. Heber M. Brown III, Founder and Executive Director Black Church Food Security Network, was a highlight of the session titled ‘Strategy to Build the Next Generation of Cooperators and Mutualists’  as he spoke on his work with black churches and helping create food banks and community gardens for their communities. Noting the grass roots effect can have a positive impact on members and engaging with the with others in the community. 

Deputy Secretary Xochitl Torres Small, Deputy Secretary of United States Agriculture, was the keynote speaker addressing the positive effect that cooperatives can have on not only the local economy but its wide reach across the United States.

 

Cooperators were able to ‘Hike the Hill’  where they were able to play an integral role in educating policymakers in Washington, DC on the impact cooperatives have in our communities and regions.

 

 

Cooperatives have been around for centuries and rooted in the communities in which we live and serve. Being resilient is a key factor in the cooperative model and being able to adapt as the economy changes. As we look forward to the ever changing landscape and adapt, as cooperators we need to be ready to lead and change.

 

Student Led Cooperatives: Sharing the Co-op Model with Future Ag Leaders

A student-led cooperative, where young people in an agricultural class, 4-H club, FFA chapter, or other group, operate an enterprise using cooperative principles, may be an opportunity to teach young people entrepreneurial skills and the unique aspects of the cooperative business model, which is an important part of American agriculture. Learn about the student-led cooperative model and ideas for activities to help young people learn about the co-op model in this video with Hannah Scott, CFAES Center for Cooperatives Program Director.

Here are a few quick ideas for helping young people learn about cooperatives in agriculture:

 

Explore the variety of agricultural careers at cooperatives: Find a cooperative in your community. If you’re not sure whether there is a co-op in your area, check out the interactive map of Ohio cooperative locations from the CFAES Center for Cooperatives at Ohio State at go.osu.edu/ohiocooperatives. Visit the co-op’s website to explore job postings and career information. What kinds of jobs do they have? What skills or education might those jobs require?

Connect with a local cooperative leader – Reach out to a local cooperative leader or member to invite them to talk about their co-op or their own job and career path or visit a local cooperative for a tour. Don’t have an opportunity for in-person activities? Find video tours of Ohio cooperatives like Heritage Cooperative and talks with farmer cooperative leaders online at go.osu.edu/ycle.

If students currently or want to operate an enterprise like a greenhouse, flower operation, or small livestock operation, help them learn about cooperative marketing or group decision-making. Invite a local producer to talk with students about their experience selling at a farmer’s market or through a cooperative. Help students brainstorm a brand identity for their enterprise. Talk with students about how to run a board meeting.

Learning from the Student-Led Cooperative at Ohio Valley Career & Technical Center

At the student-led cooperative farm at the Ohio Valley Career & Technical Center’s Agribusiness Management program in West Union, Ohio, students gain real-world experience as they manage their school’s 300-acre farm where they raise row crops, livestock, and more. Since 2016, students have used a student-led cooperative model in their program, an approach initiated by their instructor, Mr. Luke Rhonemus.

Students in the program can become a ‘member’ of the co-op and are eligible to serve on the student-elected board of directors, which helps make decisions about the farm alongside Mr. Rhonemus. Eventually, the students and Mr. Rhonemus hope alumni of the program can join the cooperative to market their locally produced farm products.

As part of a project funded by the Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SARE) program of USDA focused on enhancing the student-led cooperative model, the CFAES Center for Cooperatives at Ohio State has collaborated with Mr. Rhonemus and others to provide education and training for students on the cooperative model, agribusiness marketing, and production-related areas like meat butchery.

Specialists with the CFAES Center for Cooperatives and the OSU Extension Direct Food and Agricultural Marketing program helped the students and instructor develop a marketing plan to help them market the pork, beef, hay, and other products “Raised by students, enjoyed by you” (a tagline students developed for their marketing efforts as part of the project). To implement the plan, the project provided services from a branding consultant, who helped create new brand assets, from logos to color schemes, fonts, and more that students can use as they grow their marketing efforts. The program’s student board then selected promotional items that use the new brand assets to help them spread the word about their farm and reach customers.

One goal of the project is the development of a toolkit for other programs to develop similar student-led cooperative learning experiences in agriculture. If you are interested in learning more about student-led cooperative models, contact the CFAES Center for Cooperatives!

This material is based upon work that is supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under agreement number 2019-38640-29879 through the North Central Region SARE program under project number LNC19-428. USDA is an equal opportunity employer and service provider. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Learn more about SARE at: https://northcentral.sare.org/.

Fall Youth Cooperative Leadership Experience Day a Great Success at OSU South Centers

The CFAES Center for Cooperatives recently held the second Youth Cooperative Leadership Experience Day at the OSU South Centers on Friday, October 6, 2023.  The day-long event welcomed 36 juniors and seniors from four area high schools- in Scioto County, Green High School and Lucasville Valley High School, and in Pike County, Piketon High School and Pike Christian Academy.

The students began their day with a welcome from OSU South Centers Director, Dr. Tom Worley, where he provided the students with an overview of programs and research being done as well as opportunities available to them for future careers at the Center.

Students were then provided with a wagon tour of the campus hosted by South Centers staff of experts, Dr. Logan Minter, Ryan Slaughter, and Thom Harker.  The team described in detail the various types of crops grown in the farm plots and high tunnels, such as strawberries, raspberries, tomatoes, and hops.  They were then given a tour and in-depth look at the hatchery, where they were able to learn about how to raise and care for various types of fish and view the Center’s famous sturgeon.

Students then had the opportunity to experience hands-on lab demonstrations of soil testing, with Dr. Arif Rahman, part of South Centers Soil, Water and Bioenergy Resources team.  They were shown how to field test the soil to estimate quality, active carbons, and nitrogen fertilization, as well as recognizing what the coloration of the soil means.  All students were provided soil test kits they could take home to do their own soil testing.

Small fruits are a major research focus at South Centers and Dr. Dan Remley and Ryan Slaughter demonstrated many ways strawberries and apples can provide key sources of information.  Students were taught how to measure natural and artificial sugar levels using fresh apples and apple cider, as well as how to extract DNA from strawberries.  Students were also shown how to measure the starch level in various types of apples and demonstrate the ways orchards grade their apples to determine when they are ready for harvesting.

Microgreens was another fun lab activity students enjoyed, and was demonstrated by Associate Professor, Dr. Logan Minter.  Microgreens have become a very popular, healthy, easy, and enjoyable way to grow delicious greens from virtually anywhere in a very small area or limited amount of space.  The greens can be grown in small plastic containers, similar to restaurant takeout containers, and placed in a window.  Students were provided, potting soil mix, the opportunity to select from lettuce or kale seeds and were then able to plant their seeds with information about providing care and the growth of their microgreens from their home.

The aquaponics lab was a popular activity of the day and Research Associate, Thom Harker, gave students a first-hand account of what running an aquaponics system looks like, and provided detailed information about care of the fish and their importance in the growth process for the crops.

During lunch, students enjoyed a taco bar while hearing from several cooperative business leaders as they provided details about their cooperative, job opportunities available and the education and/or skills set needed to perform those jobs.  Companies represented were South Central PowerFarm Credit Mid-AmericaAtomic Credit UnionAdams Rural Electric CooperativeDairy Farmers of America and United Producers, Inc. Following lunch, students were able to engage one-on-one with each of the business leaders while visiting their tables during the Co-op Career Fair.  Company representatives not only offered students information and potential job opportunities but provided hands-on displays and a look at a bucket truck and lineman’s tools from Adam’s Rural Electric Cooperative.

Students also had the opportunity to speak with representatives from Ohio State University Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), who provided details available to them through their high school internships program.  Under this program, the MEP assists manufacturers with their workforce needs, while also providing students valuable career skills.  Financial assistance is available to those manufacturers who hire interns through this program, reimbursing 50% of the students’ wages, for a maximum amount of $1500 per student.

When asked how educators plan to use the information they received during the event, educator Kristen Campbell of Piketon High School said, “We are continuing to research different Cooperatives in the area for potential employment after high school and are planning on implementing some of the lesson plan activities at the school and dive deeper into the practice of Aquaculture and Hydroponics. As well as, looking at the advantages of a “greenhouse/tent system” for the availability to grow crops all year instead of in the spring and summer months.  The activities and the tour were both amazing! We also enjoyed the meet and greet with the different employers. Honestly, the entire event was very beneficial for my students!”

Marketing Collaborations for Farmers

Marketing is “creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value,” according to the definition adopted by the American Marketing Association. As is clear from the definition, marketing is broad! It encompasses concepts around product, price, place, and promotion.

At the 2023 Farm Science Review (FSR), CFAES Center for Cooperatives program director, Hannah Scott, shared collaborative approaches to marketing that may help fruit and vegetable farmers grow their businesses. From cooperative efforts to reach customers to group buys for marketing supplies, the key question for collaborative approaches is whether a group can do something better together than they can individually.

Colorful pattern of lettuce, tomatoes, eggplants, and carrots on tan background.

Collaborative Promotion

To help reach customers and promote their farms and products, farmers might consider taking advantage of collaborative programs like Ohio Proud, a program of the Ohio Department of Agriculture to promote Ohio grown, raised, or processed food and agriculture products. Other community-led efforts to promote local food, like the Pike County Local Foods Directory, led by Pike County OSU Extension, may be opportunities for farmers to reach new customers and raise awareness.

Interested in Collaborative Promotion Strategies? Here are some things to consider:

  • Are there existing programs your farm could engage simply and efficiently?
  • How can your farm share promotional items from these collaborative programs? Using social media or placing materials around your community?
  • If you help create new materials, who will “own” keeping them updated?

Controlling Costs through Joint Purchasing

Does your farm use marketing supplies that others also often use? Think of items like bags, boxes, cartons, crates, stickers, signage, and more. Sometimes purchasing supplies as a group may help farmers access bulk discounts while reducing the inventory they need to hold themselves. Group buys might also help control shipping costs and reduce administrative burdens.

Interested in Collaborative Purchasing? Here are some things to consider:

  • Will group purchasing save costs on goods and/or shipping?
  • Do the logistics work for the group?
  • Be aware of potential risks and plan for them, including potential risks around payments for goods, the quantity purchased, storage and timing considerations, and more.
  • Ensure that communications around the what, when, where, and how, for group purchases are clear and consistent.

Collaborative Marketing Approaches to Enhance Product Diversity

Sometimes offering a diverse array of products might help a business attract more customers. For example, farmer’s markets often work to recruit a diverse group of vendors so they can offer customers everything from fruits and veggies to meat and proteins, dairy, baked goods, and more. In some instances, business-to-business (B2B) sales, including approaches like multi-farm CSA’s, may help farmers or markets increase their product offerings or extend their marketing season.

Interested in Collaborative Approaches to Enhance Product Diversity? Here are some things to consider:

  • How can you manage for the quality and safety of products you do not produce?
  • Does product diversity actually help sales in the market channel you are in?
  • What strategies might you need to help manage risk and set clear expectations around terms of B2B sales?
  • Does the market channel where you sell products allow for B2B sales? For example, some farmer’s market rules may not allow for sales of items a vendor did not produce themselves.

An illustration of a laptop with retail store awning and paper airplane next to brick buildings to represent online business marketing.

Cooperation to Reach New Market Channels

Some market channels require higher volumes of product more consistently than others – think k-12 institutions or wholesale buyers – and these markets might be challenging for some farmers to enter. Producer-owned cooperatives that market products on behalf of their members may offer opportunities for farmers to pool products to reach higher volumes more consistently. Some farmer’s markets may be producer-led cooperatives (like the Chillicothe Farmers Market in Ross County, Ohio). Cooperatives may be a useful approach where pooling product or resources helps solve a challenge, but they can also be complex.

Interested in the Producer-Owned Cooperative Model? Here are some things to consider:

  • Who will be involved as members and what will be their role?
  • How will the group make decisions?
  • How can the group manage risk?
  • Will working together create the intended benefit? Can that benefit be clearly identified and communicated to members?

Access the slides for the presentation, “Marketing Collaborations to Improve your Farm’s Bottom Line” here!

 

To learn more about cooperative and collaborative approaches in agriculture, reach out to the CFAES Center for Cooperatives at Ohio State at go.osu.edu/cooperatives or 740-289-2071. The publication, “Cooperative Farming: Frameworks for Farming Together” published by Northeast SARE is also a great place to start learning about cooperative and collaborative approaches in agriculture.

Farm Science Review is a three-day, annual outdoor event hosted by Ohio State University featuring commercial exhibits, educational programs, and field demonstrations showcasing the future of agriculture. The presentation was part of 15 different learning sessions at the OSU Extension Fruits & Vegetables exhibit at FSR. The OSU Extension Fruit & Vegetable team posts educational resources and updates at https://u.osu.edu/vegnetnews/

Planning for the Future and Preserving Your Business

With 2.9 million business owners aged over 55+ in the United States, where does that leave the future of the business when it’s time to think about retirement?

Worker-owned cooperatives could be the solution! This alternative business model that can preserve the business and legacy for future generations. Employees owning the business can be a way to increase current employee engagement while rooting the business deeper into the community.

According to Project Equity, “When successful businesses become employee-owned, they create high quality jobs, increase worker voice, and facilitate asset building for employee-owners—all while boosting business survival rates and keeping local economies strong”.

Graphic of light colored light bulb and hands connecting colored puzzle pieces

Transitions to worker-owned business can seem overwhelming, but resources are out there to help guide you along the way. Project Equity is a national organization that has many resources available online. In Ohio, Evergreen Cooperative is a great local resource to help guide individuals through the process and transition.

September, the CFAES Center for Cooperatives is focusing on worker-owned cooperatives by showcasing Casa Nueva in Athens, hosting a day at Casa to learn more about the worker owned business. Later in the month, Project Equity will be hosting a free “Selling to your Workers” webinar to those interested in learning more about the process.