Food Cooperative Consultants Visit Kodiak

Radishes. (Photo courtesy of Government of Prince Edward Island / Flickr)

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

Two people who consult on food cooperatives dropped into town to meet with the Harvest Food Cooperative board.

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The local co-op is still in the brainstorming stage and is busy gathering members so that it can build enough funds to launch. Part of what the two consultants did while in town is address Kodiak’s unique challenges. For instance, shipping costs – the consequence of living on an island. Or, says, Stuart Reed, the size of the community.

Reed is the Executive Director of the Food Co-op Initiative, which works with startup co-ops. Like Kodiak’s.

He points out that there are only so many people who live on Kodiak.

“And that means that you have a large percentage of people in a community willing to back the effort and support it, which is a special challenge, but I think that there’s a very clear space for the co-op in this community where it’ll serve a real unmet need, and I think it’s gonna be – as well as a business – a great social hub for people as well. They typically are.”

He says the number of Kodiak residents is overcomeable.

Andrew Crow manages the co-op development center at the University of Alaska Anchorage’s Business Enterprise Institute. He identifies a similar population issue – there’s a limit to the road system on Kodiak.

That’s unlike most co-ops in the Lower 48.

“There’s a catchment area people are driving into. We don’t have that. It’s a different challenge. What that means is we need to think about things more carefully and take a little bit more time in the planning and bring in more people who can identify new ideas and kinda maybe new ways of approaching this.”

His solution is to pull in other co-op specialists who can help think up ways to overcome those issues.

He says coming up with ideas for Kodiak could answer a lot of other communities’ needs.

“From my kind of professional perspective and looking at co-op development in the state, if we can come up with a model that creates sustainable food co-ops in communities the size of Kodiak, then that’s something we can then replicate and help out a lot of other places.”

Crow flew out of town Friday, but Reed will be in Kodiak through early this week.

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