Founded in 1988, the Pioneer Valley NE Growers Coop works with skilled farmers who lack resources to run their own operations. These farmers, who in their home countries cultivated crops for a living, are in Massachusetts as seasonal workers or resident farm workers. Hankering for familiar produce, they began to grow it on small plots within the larger farms that they were working. These crops were shared between farm owners and workers, and interest grew in marketing this produce, helped by the Stockbridge School of Agriculture. The Coop, in partnership with the landowners and the farm workers, is bringing these crops to inner city customers.
This model of distribution and aggregation – admittedly small-scale – unites talented farmers and supportive landowners to bring fresh, cultural crops, like callaloo, to urban residents. Its success counts on founder and president, Glenroy Buchanan, CISA’s 2011 Local Hero Awardee, and his network of growers. Effective distribution relies on the alignment of consumer demand and supply and the Coop has found a way to make these links to the benefit of all parties, including churches, restaurants, and individuals.