Urban Greens Food Co-op is a consumer owned and governed cooperative working to open a retail grocery store in Providence, RI. The store will be open to all and will support the health and well-being of our customers by offering nutritious, affordable food that is sustainably sourced, culturally inclusive and supportive of local food production.
Urban Greens Food Co-op is a community owned business, a food co-operative owned by local residents. We currently have over 750 member-owners: folks who have purchased a share to become an owner. We offer full income ($160) and low income ($80) share prices, both of which can be paid in installments to make it more affordable. Once paid, there are no additional member dues.
Urban Green's current membership is majority caucasian, middle and upper-middle class, and is not yet reflective of the racially and ethnically diverse neighborhoods that we are working to serve. We want to improve this by supporting messaging around membership/ownership, promoting board diversity, and ensuring inclusive hiring practices that reflect the community. We are also actively seeking collaboration with organizations that serve our ethnically and racially diverse neighbors.
Prospective board members:
To strengthen our organization we plan to include more people of color, those belonging to social minorities, and those with socio-economically diverse backgrounds on our board. We see this as a perfect opportunity to enrich our organization with local leaders who can collaborate using the numerous strengths involved in the success of a start-up operation.
Urban Greens Food Co-op continually seeks to diversify its staff. As an equal opportunity employer, we strongly encourage individuals from historically underrepresented demographics to apply for a variety of positions including: General Manager, full and part time staff, and contractor opportunities beginning in 2017.
High Worth Local Investments:
We depend on community investment to be successful. Our aim is to build diversity at all levels of our organization and across all stakeholder groups: management, staff, leadership, ownership, customer base.
By asking for investor involvement, we ensure Urban Greens’ sustainability within the community. We believe inclusivity must be present at all levels, including investors who share our values. This includes individuals interested in sponsoring our low income member shares program.
Partnerships and collaborations with Community Organizations:
Through the Inclusion Committee, our goal is to establish strong and lasting partnerships with Organizations that can help Urban Greens connect to underserved communities and families, specifically organizations with deep connections to the local community.
Urban Greens will be centrally located intersecting 3 distinct neighborhoods, Federal Hill, the West End, and Upper South Providence. In addition to the store, Urban Greens is committed to enhancing the quality of life by supporting the West Elmwood Housing community and surrounding neighborhoods through community events, neighborhood clean ups, cooking demos and nutrition education.
Currently residents have at least 4 opportunities a month to meet with Urban Greens leadership, including our committee meetings which are open to the public. Members of our Council also highly encourage any constructive feedback from the community.
At every stage of our business, we strive to establish and maintain inclusion goals. While some programming will be tied to store opening, our efforts to create an inclusive Co-op begin with infrastructure that we are building now.
Our Guiding Values:
1) Equal Access: Urban Greens Food Co-op benefits from all communities having access to both goods and ownership in the organization. We believe that all communities have the potential to bring strength and cultural capital. And every person, regardless of socioeconomic status, deserves access to healthy, affordable food that is produced in an environmentally and socially responsible manner. Equal access is predicated on serving those for whom access is not readily available and not allowing economic disadvantage to restrict access.
2) Economic Sustainability: A strong and equitable economy depends on locally-owned businesses that thrive and reinvest within the community. Urban Greens Food Co-op will help build such an economy by fostering opportunities for leadership training, creating jobs in the store, economic opportunity for farmers and producers, and financial dividends for member-owners.
3) Cultural Relevancy & Reflection of the Community: The Co-op will foster a diverse membership base. We seek to create a space for collaboration and cross-pollination among multiple organizations, cultures, and communities; and to offer products in a market environment that meet the needs of the diverse families and individuals in the surrounding population.
4) Environmental Stewardship & Local Agriculture:
At the forefront of Urban Greens Co-op is the health and prosperity of farmers, their farms and the natural environment. Our mission will help build a sustainable regional food system by fostering dialogue and working relationships with local and regional producers and offering them a consistent retail outlet.
5) Outreach & Education: The health and longevity of our communities and food systems depends on informed consumers. Urban Greens Food Co-op will inform its customers and member-owners on the benefits of buying local, sustainable products, and foster dialogue in the greater community about where our food comes from, and the choices we make as consumers.
6) Cooperative Principles, Cooperative Values: As a cooperative, we will strive for democracy, openness, community engagement and social responsibility. Urban Greens Food Co-op is guided by the International Co-operative Alliance’s Seven Cooperative Principles: 1. Voluntary and Open Membership, 2. Democratic Member Control, 3. Member Economic Participation, 4. Autonomy and Independence, 5. Education, Training, and Information, 6. Cooperation among Cooperatives, 7. Concern for Community.