Clean Energy Cooperative The Clean Energy Cooperative, located in northeastern Pennsylvania, organized to provide a mechanism to aggregate community capital for investment in local renewable energy projects. The Clean Energy Co-op is using a "slow money" business model, where long-term and modest returns are acceptable because the money circulates locally, is managed by trusted individuals, and the investment provides other (non-financial) benefits back to the investors and their community. They incorporated in 2014. KDC provided organizational development support, including basic co-op training, bylaw and policy development, reviewing the business plan, and understanding of the various legal issues. Clean Energy was awarded a USDA Renewable Energy for America Program (REAP) grant for up to $17,830 toward the construction of the co-op’s first community-scale solar system of 90 solar photovoltaic (PV) panels. In its consideration of new projects, the co-op is now thinking of moving beyond solar to other types of sustainable energy and natural resource projects.
Heritage Shellfish Cooperative (HSC) HSC is a partnership of four shellfish growers specializing in raising hard clams in New Jersey’s bays and estuaries with the goal of direct marketing them to food co-ops and restaurants in the Philadelphia region. They are employing state-of-the art technology to raise their New Jersey Eventide Littlenecks™ in a controlled environment – first in laboratory settings and then in leased areas of water off the shore. HSC have been a KDC client since 2012 and incorporated in 2013 with KDC’s assistance. Heritage Shellfish Cooperative members hold themselves to the highest standard for marine stewardship and preservation, conforming to East Coast Shellfish Growers Association Environmental Code of Practice and Best Management Practices, actively working with Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experimental Station and Cooperative Extension to share best aquaculture practices. KDC assisted the group to obtain a grant to provide start-up capital which was used to purchase a delivery van, sorting equipment, packaging, office equipment and marketing materials.
Keystone Beef Marketing Network is a cooperatively organized network focused on development of an all-PA beef marketing channel. Prior to the formation of KBMN in 2010, no single entity was exclusively focused on marketing locally grown PA cattle to PA buyers. Many PA beef cattle were being sold to out-of-state buyers, eliminating the opportunity of providing locally grown beef to PA beef consumers and additional income to beef producers. KBMN’s marketing strategy is to aggregate the cattle from smaller family-farm producers and sell PA ‘bred and fed’ beef to PA consumers via PA grocery retailers. Their primary partner is UPI (United Producers International), a producer-owned cooperative headquartered in Ohio. They have raised the bar for beef marketing and farmers are already reaping a price premium. KDC assisted Keystone Beef Marketing Network with development of bylaws, policy formation, grant acquisition, and provided a pro forma financial analysis, feasibility study and business plan.
The Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative (LFFC) is owned by over 100 family farmers all located in Lancaster County. The cooperative is made up of Amish and Mennonite farmers who take great pride in building their soil to produce healthy plants, animals and people. KDC supported the start-up activities of the cooperative assisting the group in incorporation, by-law development, and board education. KDC provided support in systems development and market outreach providing an on-line ordering system. LFFC has greatly contributed to the rural community by assisting start-up farmers and opening up marketing channels between the farmer and consumer. In 2012 they reached the milestone of $10,000,000 in gross sales and pride themselves on returning 70% of that to farmer owners. LFFC serves the most of the Eastern Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey, Maryland area through wholesale food service and community supported agriculture.
Mid Atlantic Food Cooperative Allience (MAFCA) is an organization supported by KDC that is currently comprised of 26 food cooperatives in six states with nearly 48,000 member consumers. Some are in the startup phase and others are at full scale. Their current aggregate gross sales are over $118 million. One of MAFCA’s primary missions is to support the development of new food cooperatives and develop the local food system by increasing the efficiency of sourcing local farm products from rural areas. It serves as a trusted and efficient avenue for new consumer cooperatives to access vital information. KDC works regularly with MAFCA to bring new information and practices to the region’s growing consumer cooperative sector. Multiple spin-off projects have come from this federation including the emerging Delaware Valley shared warehouse and the Philadelphia Area Cooperative Alliance, which now has 17 members (five food co-ops as members, along with two credit unions, three worker co-ops, three housing co-ops, three school co-ops, and one energy co-op). The MAFCA strategy of organizing co-ops to work together along industry lines to improve efficiencies and spark innovation has broad applicability to many situations.
MontCo Union Taxi Co-op LLC. The Montgomery County Council allocated 50 Passenger Vehicle Licenses to the newly-formed co-op, an alliance of hundreds of taxi drivers in Maryland who are working to start a co-op. This group of taxi drivers (some rural) is meeting to form a worker-owned taxi cooperative in an effort to combat the Uber threat. They especially want to extend taxi service into the rural areas of Montgomery County. KDC is assisting with critical first steps in establishing feasibility in partnership with AFL-CIO. The Montco Taxi Union will be serving rural areas of the county with members from a great many cultures. Most of the members are of African descent (from many countries), some of whom have just immigrated. The cooperative will help them bridge their cultural differences and compete against Uber and online taxi services as a result the expected outcome is an improved taxi service to the rural areas of the county along with the economic opportunity of business ownership provided to the driver/owners. Drivers are working to manage leasing expenses and other fees, in addition to responding to the pressure by Internet-based ride-sharing services Uber and Lyft. MontCo is in contact with leaders from other taxi co-ops around the country including the Philadelphia Taxi Co-op who were assisted by KDC.
Neshannock Soil Builders Cooperative. NSBC is a farmer cooperative focused on accepting food waste for composting and using the compost to enhance soils of the member farms. Their organization allows member farmers to contract with food and organic waste generators to accept the waste for composting. That waste is then composted on farm to create a nutrient-rich soil amendment and used as soil amendments or sold off-farm as fertilizer. On-farm composting involves a range of feedstock options (manure; leaf/yard waste; food waste; etc.) and provides benefits for participating farmers including effective nutrient management of farm waste and tipping fee-income from waste generators (e.g. supermarkets; restaurants; cafeterias). All of this is in addition to generating income from sales of surplus compost to neighboring farms, greenhouses, etc. Cooperative farmers intend to both use the compost in their own farm operations and sell it off farm. Keystone Development Center provided co-op education and assistance with business formation, organizational development, and membership development. KDC also provided assistance on a feasibility study and advice on incorporation of a second cooperative along with advice on grant applications.
Pennsylvania Area Cooperative Alliance - Shared Warehouse Purchasing Cooperative This group is working to assess the feasibility of a shared purchasing cooperative warehouse in the greater Philadelphia area. Four cooperatives – CreekSide, Weavers Way, Swarthmore and Mariposa have come together to share their purchasing data and discuss how a shared warehouse would benefit both their organizations and local growers and value added producers. KDC has assisted this group by assembling a database of vendors and items to determine potential sales volume and identify potential target vendors. We then began to develop a pro forma that allows the organizations involved to identify the costs involved in starting this organization as well as potential long term savings. Going forward, KDC will continue to develop the pro forma. If the pro forma indicates the project can be feasible, we will eventually begin to work with them to create the business plan and share the vision with other food co-ops.
The Prettyboy Resource Collaborative is an innovative alliance of state and local government agencies, environmental groups, private companies, and local landowners that have teamed up to use a forestry co-op to help protect and improve the quality of water in the Prettyboy watershed in northern Maryland. The Prettyboy Watershed is part of the largest public water supply system in Maryland, serving 1.8 million citizens, and it needs to improve significantly in order to comply with environmental regulations. Local landowners will be facing increased costs under the regulations and need to be brought into the effort as partners. A forestry co-op will aggregate forest management activities, develop and market forest products, and leverage nutrient trading, thus generating revenue that mitigates landowner compliance costs, while also helping them with regulatory compliance. Keystone will assist in conducting outreach and education to local landowners about this co-op model, and support a feasibility study to refine the business model.
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