You’re buying more than a lentil, bean or pea…
You’re part of an EVOLUTION.
At Farmer Direct Co-op, we challenge our food system’s norms and continually redefine what “fair” and “sustainable” farming mean. We are pioneering positive change by treating FARMERS, FARM WORKERS and the LAND with respect.
100% Farmer-Owned Cooperative
means the highest integrity.
It means democratic, family farmer controlled. One farm, one vote.
COOPERATION IN ACTION.
means farmer-owned, certified organic and fair trade.
It means fair, living wages and safe working conditions for farm workers.
ALWAYS FAIR AND ORGANIC.
100% Organic Business
means organic is all we do.
By supporting our co-op, you become part of this beautiful evolution.
The seal to represent this evolution toward a higher standard of holistic farm management — the combination of organic farming and fair trade certification — is called the fairDeal. Learn more at thefairdeal.org
To be champions of fairly traded certified organic food.
To benefit our members as a cooperative that strives to market all members’ organic products while building and promoting a healthy environment and socially just food system.
Guided by our strongly held core values, Farmer Direct Cooperative is dedicated to the creation of a fair and just food system. We pursue these goals with the highest integrity and respect.
Through our actions and activities we aim to:
- Support, protect, and promote sustainable, organic agriculture and environmental practices.
- Foster ethical and equitable relationships by providing fair return for producers' products; fair wages and safe and healthy workplaces for employees; and clear communication with all stakeholders.
- Provide producers with an opportunity for cooperative ownership of their own food brand and marketing channels.
- Provide safe, nutritious food for consumers.
Farmer Direct Cooperative was founded by Jason Freeman and three farmers in 2002. Jason had been operating a small organic food company and upon its sale was approached by the farmers he had been working with to market more of their crops. The farmers faced unfair pricing, poor logistics, and a lack of transparency. They collaborated with Jason to build a cooperative that would let them sell their crops, which included flaxseed, lentils, hempseed and peas, in a fair and direct way.
The Canadian prairies have a strong cooperative history, particularly for farmers. For example, Farmer Direct Cooperative’s board president, Kevin Bristow, grew up watching his father run member services for a large conventional farmer co-op. To this deep history of cooperatives, Farmer Direct brings a unique commitment to three attributes:
- 100% Farmer Owned
- 100% Organic Buisness
- 100% Domestic Fair Trade Certified
No other business of its kind boasts all three.
Organizing as a cooperative, farmer-owned business was a bit of a no-brainer for the farmers. The strong culture of cooperatives in the area laid the groundwork, so when the farmers decided to come together, they knew they wanted each member to have one vote regardless of the farm's size ("one farm, one vote"), open and voluntary membership, and a way to participate fairly in an economic endeavor. What other way than through a cooperative? Their board president summed up why he joined the co-op in this way: “I believe in cooperatives, I believe in fairness, I believe in transparency. Collectively we have more strength, more advantage, more opportunity.”
All 60+ family farms that are member-owners of Farmer Direct Cooperative are fully organic. Most of them have been organic for a decade or more. None of FDC’s members are “split operations,” or farms that grow both conventional and organic products. The strong commitment to only selling organic products is one of the big draws that brings farmers into the cooperative.
Domestic Fair Trade Certified
While running an organic farmers’ co-op was already innovative, Farmer Direct Cooperative made the decision to continue their leadership in the field by certifying their co-op to the standards of Domestic Fair Trade. Farmer Direct Cooperative was the first business in North America to receive that certification, which ensures that businesses in North America treat workers fairly and farmers are paid a fair price. The cooperative’s farmer-owners see this certification as an important way they can push the industry in a fairer direction.
- Used and adapted with permission from the Principle 6 Cooperative Trade Movement.