Co-op to Co-op Producer: Small Family Farm
October is Cooperative Month! In celebration we would like to highlight one of the new emerging co-ops VFC is working with – Rochdale Farms Co-op.
Rochdale Farms Co-op partners with several small-scale, multi-generational farms, craft producers and cheese makers to bring their products to food cooperatives throughout the Midwest.
Rochdale Farms is a worker-owned cooperative founded in 2009 to offer a brand exclusively found at local food cooperatives. Rochdale FarmsCo-op partners with several small-scale, multi-generational farms, craft producers and cheese makers to bring their products to food cooperatives throughout the Midwest. Their partnership with these small Wisconsin producers helps support small family-owned Wisconsin dairy farms throughout the state – ensuring their existence, now and into the future.
Here is a list of the farms and producers that Rochdale Farms Co-op partners with:Old Country Farms Amish Dairy Cooperative – located in Cashton, WI. The cooperative is composed of 350 Amish dairy farmers that ship their milk in old fashioned cans that hold 80 lbs. each. Pasture Pride Dairy partners with Old Country Farms to make a variety of delicious cheeses – which get packaged and sold under the Rochdale Farms brand.
Burnett Dairy Family-owned Cooperative – located in near Grantsburg, WI. Founded in 1896, this cooperative is owned by 200 dairy farm families. The co-op mainly produces cheese.
Graf Creamery – located in Bonduel, WI. Albert Graf purchased this cheese factory in 1926. Today they still make award-winning, hand-crafted cheese and butter.
Chalet Cheese Cooperative – Located in Monroe, WI. Founded in 1885 by five dairy farmers, Chalet Cheese Co-op continues to flourish as a cooperative owned and operated by its 14 farmers who are the sole suppliers of milk. They are the only producer of Limburger cheese in the United States.
Once Rochdale Farms sources products from their producer partners, they bring them to market through a localized cooperatively-owned distribution center, Co-op Partners Warehouse (owned by the Wedge Food Co-op) in St. Paul, Minnesota. This allows the dairy products to have short transportation distances within the Midwest to get to food cooperatives like the VFC.
The name for the Rochdale Farms cooperative was chosen in honor of the Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers, designers of the original consumer cooperative model launched in 1844 in Rochdale, England.
Back then, the Rochdale Society set out to change the world. What they accomplished was revolutionary, bold and scoffed at by many of their contemporaries. Facing poverty and personal hardship in the tumult of the industrial revolution, the Rochdale Pioneers opened the first cooperatively organized store offering only five items on the shelves: flour, oatmeal, sugar, butter and candles. This cooperative structure exists to this day, growing and thriving in almost every state in the US, and abroad.
Next time you are at VFC, pick up some Rochdale Farms hand-rolled butter and a variety of cheeses. When you purchase these products, you’re touching the lives of hundreds of farm families in Wisconsin and helping to support and strengthen a cooperative food supply chain.