The Food Co-op is a consumer co-op founded in 1972 in Port Townsend, Washington, OSA’s hometown. With around 7,000 active members and over 20,000 members to date, the Co-op is well supported by Port Townsend’s population of nearly 10,000. Part of the Co-op’s mission is to strengthen local farmers and regional food production systems and to spotlight the seasonal availability of local and regional products. The Co-op delivers this mission by developing the local food system, promoting environmental sustainability, and providing education, outreach and advocacy that engages the community. In addition to partnering with OSA, The Food Co-op works with a variety of groups in the East Jefferson County area that share the same values and interests, like Eat Local First Campaign, Jefferson County Local Food Systems Council, Jefferson County Farmers Market, and Jefferson Land Trust.
“We make a concerted effort at The Food Co-op to support our local farmers and provide seasonally fresh produce to our community,” said Andrea Stafford, the Food Co-op’s marketing manager. The Food Co-op also takes pride in being the only certified organic produce department on the Olympic Peninsula. As a seller of certified organic plant starts and seeds, the Co-op has taken the Safe Seed Pledge and is committed to not knowingly selling genetically engineered seeds or plants.
Since 2010, the Food Co-op has partnered with OSA on a number of projects, including:
- Helping us improve varieties, such as purple sprouting broccoli, ‘Abundant Bloomsdale’ spinach, and a sweet corn developed for the cool climates of the Olympic Peninsula
- Participating in variety trials and offering expertise on how products will perform in a retail setting
- Participating in Organicology through a presentation by Produce Manager Laura Llewellyn on the retail connection to organic seed
“We believe that organic farmers should be using organic seed, and that we need continued improvement of organic varieties, ones that can perform well, especially in our micro-climate,” Stafford said. “Because OSA is in our backyard, we are able to develop and support these programs and, in turn, the farmers who provide our food.”