California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF), a nonprofit organization that provides organic certification, education, advocacy and promotion, last week honored National Co+op Grocers (NCG) with its first CCOF Foundation Organic Champion Award.
NCG is the business services co-op for 148 retail food co-ops nationwide. CCOF presented the award at its 2017 annual conference, “Organic Inspiration and Innovation: Ideas that Are Changing the Way We Grow,” held February 9th and 10th in Visalia, California.
NCG CEO Robynn Shrader accepted the award during the conference kick-off, the CCOF Foundation Awards Feast. The award recognizes the history of partnerships between NCG and CCOF on initiatives to support established and future organic farmers, both in the United States and abroad. CCOF’s first annual Organic Champion Award acknowledges Shrader’s role as a champion supporting the next generation of organic producers and NCG for the organization’s commitment to the organic community.
“Among the challenges to meet the rising demand for organic products that are healthy for both people and the planet is the need for new organic farmers and entrepreneurs. CCOF is proud to partner with NCG to address this challenge and build opportunity for those wishing to enter the organic marketplace,” said CCOF Executive Director and CEO Cathy Calfo. “We are changing the face of agriculture with strong partnerships that reach to the corners of the food industry, and this is just the beginning.”
“NCG is tremendously honored to receive this award from CCOF Foundation, which has a powerful history of supporting organic enterprise across generations and geographical regions,” added Shrader.
NCG has been a strong supporter of CCOF Foundation’s Future Organic Farmer Grant Fund, partnering with dozens of organic brands to raise over $50,000 in 2015 and contributing an additional $50,000 to the fund the following year.
The Future Organic Farmer Grant Fund is the only fund in the United States that exclusively targets the study and teaching of organic agriculture. The fund aims to increase the supply of organic through investing in the next generation of organic producers, from kindergarten through college, with a focus on disadvantaged communities and students who demonstrate financial need.
In 2014, when extreme drought conditions threatened many organic farmers’ livelihoods, NCG contributed $10,000 to the CCOF Foundation’s Bricmont Hardship Assistance Fund so that affected organic farmers could offset a portion of that year’s financial losses.
Most recently, NCG asked the CCOF Foundation to serve as the 501(c)(3) fiscal sponsor for its October 2016 “Co-ops Grow Communities” promotion, which raised $80,000 for the Argentina-based La Riojana cooperative, the first Fair Trade Certified olive oil producer in Latin America.
While La Riojana’s olive oil is already certified organic, many of the cooperative’s members are also growing wine grapes using organic methods, but due to financial constraints have not yet applied for organic certification for their grapes. The CCOF Foundation’s La Riojana Fund will reimburse certification costs for more than eighty farm families, allowing them the opportunity to market their wines as made with organic grapes.
“We have been grateful to be able to team up with CCOF on a variety of endeavors to advance organic agriculture,” said Shrader. “When our community of farmers, certifiers, manufacturers, retailers and consumers join forces to champion organic, our collective efforts deliver meaningful impact, from students granted the opportunity to grow their first organic crop to Argentinian farmers welcomed into the organic marketplace.”
National Co+op Grocers (NCG), founded in 1999, is a business services cooperative for retail food co-ops located throughout the United States. NCG helps unify food co-ops in order to optimize operational and marketing resources, strengthen purchasing power, and ultimately offer more value to natural food co-op owners and shoppers everywhere. Our 148 member and associate co-ops operate more than 200 storefronts in 38 states with combined annual sales of nearly $2 billion. NCG is a winner of the dotCoop Global Awards for Cooperative Excellence and a Certified B Corporation. Find a map of NCG member and associate co-ops. To learn more about co-ops, visit www.strongertogether.coop.