Tuesday, August 26, 2014

'Taste the Future' at Developing Urban Farm in North Tonawanda

GroOperative - Worker-owned Urban Farm - invites you to Taste the Future

A developing worker cooperative called GroOperative is hosting a fundraiser called Taste the Future in North Tonawanda on Saturday, September 6th and is inviting the community to come out to support the venture, offering food, live music and samples of prototype beers. The event will go from 6pm to 10pm at The Strand, a former theater renovated as a music and performance venue at 540 Oliver St.

There is a presentation on cooperatives in general and on GroOperative’s vision in particular that begins at 7pm at the Strand on September 6th, followed by a question and answer session. The team leading the effort consists of four young men from the Buffalo area with backgrounds in building trades, brewing, sales, administration and food production. Live blues/roots/funk music by David Michael Miller & Friends begins at 8pm.

GroOperative aims to provide high-quality food and high-quality jobs in Western New York, ideally in the City of Buffalo, through a worker-owned vertical farming system. Worker-ownership means a type of cooperative where the people who work at the business are also the owners, participating in making decisions both big and small. Vertical farming is a relatively new, indoor gardening and farming system that stacks trays of growing plants vertically, making the most use of available space.

Entry to the event is by donation, with a suggested donation of $20. Proceeds from the Taste the Future event will go toward GroOperative’s development, helping to cover costs of things like legal fees, grant-writing,  website maintenance and aquaponics research & development. For more information, click 'Read more' (below) and also visit www.grooperative.com.

The benefits of local, urban, vertical farming are potentially enormous. An indoor controlled environment means plants are less prone to pests and disease, therefore requiring less chemicals like herbicides and pesticides. It also means that—by controlling conditions like light, temperature and humidity—yields of fruit and vegetables are most often much higher and can be grown and harvested in much shorter amounts of time. Hydroponics systems often require 50-75% less water to grow the same amount of plants as a traditional farm, and growing indoors means year-round production—a huge benefit in a northern city like Buffalo. Growing food in the city means far less transportation, reducing both the cost of distribution and also drastically reducing pollution and oil consumption from delivery trucks. And by operating as a worker cooperative, worker-owners aren’t just getting paid to go to a job, they have an ownership stake in their career.

Cooperatives are unique in that they are businesses that are owned and managed by the people who use its services (consumer coops), by the people who work there (worker coops) or even by the people who live there (housing coops). Many people shop at or do business with coops, such as credit unions or places like the Lexington Cooperative Market, without knowing exactly what they are. Currently there is a growing momentum behind cooperatives in the U.S., particularly for the creation of democratically-controlled worker-cooperatives. This growth can be seen right here in Buffalo. In April BreadHive Worker Cooperative Bakery opened to much acclaim, and is currently working with local partners to establish a worker-cooperative business incubator.

“We want to make sure that new businesses in Buffalo are directly benefitting the workers and keeping money in the community,” says Victoria Kuper of BreadHive.

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