OVGC member Michelle Dohrn helped found the Ojai Food Co-op in 2012. Michelle says the idea “sprouted” while she was picking potatoes on a local organic farm with her young daughter. Engaged in the physical act of harvesting those potatoes, she realized she had something incredibly valuable in her hands, a direct relationship with a farmer. She and her daughter were lucky enough to see where their food comes from and experience the work it takes to grow their food. “It so deeply touched me that I thought ‘why don't more people have access to this type of local organic fresh food?’" According to Andy Warhol, ‘the grocery cart is the most powerful tool for social change.’
It's now three years later, Michelle along with a group of like-minded individuals have just incorporated the Ojai Food Co-op. The Bylaws are almost complete and negotiations with a landowner are going well. Michelle is vocal about how important the early encouragement and fiscal sponsorship provided by the OVGC helped them get this far. Michelle says “Without the generous help from the OVGC we could not have organized or gained as much support in educating the community about the benefits of having a community-owned and operated food system in the Ojai Valley. Now that the Co-op is incorporated, the OVGC has ended its fiscal sponsorship and wishes the Ojai Food Co-op all the best.
So what exactly is a food co-op and what will it do differently than the other markets in town? According to Michelle, the Co-op will provide an alternative local business model by being cooperatively owned and governed, while providing critical financial support to local farmers, purveyors, and artisans. The Co-op hopes to localize the valley’s food supply by connecting farmers to consumers and building on our local food system. They hope to educate consumers about sustainable practices and encourage healthier conscious food choices, use environmentally sustainable methods of operation, and work with predominately local and in-season produce gathered from Ventura, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo Counties.
Michelle shares, “Inspired by the same passion for consumer education, the accessibility of healthy food and our local economy community, members are volunteering their time, skills and talents to take the concept of a local food co-op through the development stages and organizing to reach the final stage of opening the store…The steering committee for OFC would love to hear from members of our community on how we can make the Co-op a true expression of the Ojai community and offer cooperative and volunteer opportunities.”
If this makes sense to you and the Ojai Food Co-op sounds good find out more at www.ojaifoodcoop.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 805-633-0649.