Wedge co-op business continues to thrive

05/18/2012 01:02:00 PM
Tom Burfield

The Wedge Community Co-op Inc., which opened in 1974 and began operating an organic farm in 2008, has reached a new milestone, said Elizabeth Archerd, membership and marketing manager.

The Minneapolis-based organization has bought its own land where it will grow organic fruits and vegetables.

About 100 acres will be certified organic in 2013, and some greenhouse acreage already is certified organic.

The co-op operates a certified organic store in which more than 90% of the produce sold each year is organic.

The Wedge, with more than 15,000 active members, is an example of an efficient yet unconventional way for resident of the Twin Cities and surrounding areas to fill their produce needs.

Its Co-op Partners Warehouse in St. Paul delivers to other co-ops, restaurants and grocery stores in six states, Archerd said. Deliveries are carefully planned to avoid commingling organic and conventional items.

The co-op’s farm also fills a heretofore unmet need of providing certified organic plugs for farmers.

People shop at the Wedge to buy both local and organic food.

“We’ve always been about both,” Archerd said. “We don’t see them as arguing with each other.”

As in most stores, bananas are the most popular produce item, but local seasonal items also are good sellers.

Unlike many conventional stores, the co-op did not see negative numbers during the recession, and business once again is expanding.

“We’re back to a healthy growth rate,” she said.

The co-op has refunded more than $1 million to its members, based on their purchases, during each of the past two years.

Sustainability also is important for the co-op. The organization issued a sustainability report in 2010 and plans to issue a new one in 2012, Archerd said.



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