KDC will host the Cooperative Leadership Conference in the spring of 2022 and the KDC Cooperative Academy in the fall of 2021 and spring 2022. These trainings are tailored to address the unique challenges and highlight best practices of starting and managing a collaborative enterprise. Our assistance includes meeting facilitation, board leadership training, focus groups, feasibility studies, business plans, incorporation assistance, and other needs-appropriate services.
KDC was awarded a Socially Disadvantaged Groups Grant for $173,288 to support two groups of women farmers. Small farmers of all types face their challenges, but women-owned are particularly hard hit when it comes to capital, land access, and market access. Cooperatives enable women to unite in solidarity, provide self-help strategies, and form a network of mutual support to overcome barriers and increase their economic prosperity.
The Pennsylvania Female Fiber Growers are revitalizing the natural fibers industry and consist of flax, hemp, and wool farmers, natural dye growers, and textile producers They plan to create an industry built on the principles of inclusion, environmental stewardship, and social justice. They envision the creation of clean jobs across the industry from farming, milling, weaving, and manufacturing. They are committed to their local economy, self-reliance, and regenerative farming as an important step towards a healthy future.
The Greater New Jersey Flower Farmers steering committee have reached out to KDC to help them formalize their emerging cooperative. 80% of flowers sold in the United States are imported. Florists and designers have increasingly turned to local flower growers for a reliable source of flowers for weddings, events, and the retail flower industry. There are a growing number of flower growers in New Jersey who need additional outlets through which to sell their products. The flower farming industry in New Jersey is dominated by women but that does not correlate to equal access to opportunity and resources. The status of women-owned farmers ranges from women who have retired and changed careers to others who are just starting out and need supplies and equipment to get started, to those who are struggling to maintain the legacy of their family farms.
Both the Women Fiber Farmers and the Greater New Jersey Flower Farmers steering committees will participate in cooperative study circles to explore their prospective cooperative business. These two projects will be managed as individual projects but will follow KDC's proven steps for successful cooperative development. Each session will be a facilitated conversation led by cooperative development specialists. We will initiate peer-to-peer discussions designed for participants to share, inspire, and learn from one another. Collectively they will develop ideas and opportunities to market and distribute together.