Interested in Joining GROWN Locally?

We are currently looking for additional growers for the 2013 growing season. Please contact us if you are interested in working with GROWN Locally. The local food market is growing and we want to grow our membership to meet this demand and provide high quality farm products to institutions and distributors. Whether you are a large or small operation, a new grower or have been growing for years, we have growers of all sizes and can accommodate almost everyone; the co-op is a great way to market your products.

Growing Practices

GROWN Locally was formed as a way to provide locally raised food to our 5 county area. We are devoted to the concept that fresh, high quality food should be available to everyone at a reasonable cost. And, we are avid proponents of sustainable agriculture as a way to provide that food while allowing the farmers to make a decent living and diversify the income from their farms. Some of the farms are certified organic, while others are not. The non-organic farms agree to raise their crops with the absolute minimum of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, and most do not use any. The Cooperative is not certified as an organic handler and does not sell any product as ‘organic’.

Membership and Structure

GROWN Locally is a cooperative of Northeast Iowa farms and food producers.  We have recently expanded to producers in SE Minnesota and SW Wisconsin as well. Many of our members also market products through local farmers markets, and other means.

We expect our members to be active in the operation and administration of the cooperative as a way to keep our overhead costs under control. The Board of Directors and all committee persons are volunteers. We have a paid Coordinator, who works to increase our customer base and develop markets, and a Sales Manager, who handles much of the sales and logistics. The Coop conducts bi-monthly business meetings, generally in the evening of the second Tuesday of every other month.

Members are given one year as a probationary member to decide if they want to continue in the cooperative. Through a partnership with the Leopold Center in 2012/2013, GROWN Locally is able to provide mentorship and technical support to new members. At the end of one year, new members are asked to buy into the cooperative with the purchase of a $100 membership share. The share is not refundable nor transferable to another person without the approval of the Board of Directors, but does entitle the holder to a share of any dividends disbursed by the coop.

Orders & Delivery

During the summer months, we deliver products weekly. During the slower, winter months we deliver on an as needed basis. Each producer is required to ‘upload’ their expected harvest to our web store inventory about 5 days prior to harvest to allow customers to place their orders. The orders are processed and the producers are told how much of their product is required for each delivery day. Produce is delivered to a central packing station the day before delivery, and must be cleaned, sanitized and packaged (bagged or boxed) by the producer. Packaging and sanitizing supplies are provided by the Coop at cost, but the labor must be supplied by the producer. Some long-life products (e.g. potatoes) can be uploaded to inventory once and delivered over several weeks. We currently do not have any storage facilities, so all storage is the responsibility of the producer(s).

Sales & Certifications 

We sell to institutions and distributors.  Grower prices are generally set prior to the season by general consensus of those producers supplying each crop, but adjustments can be made throughout the season to better reflect supply and demand. The cooperative will mark up the grower price to the customers to cover their expenses. All billing and collection is handled through the cooperative and producers are paid twice a month.

We have been enjoying an increase in the amount of produce we sell to institutions the past couple years and are interested in finding growers who can produce large amounts of a few crops. We don't require growers to be certified organic, but we do have sustainability and safety standards that we require our growers to follow. Each grower must pass an annual inspection of their operation conducted by cooperative members. Some of our customers also require food safety standards such as GAP (Good Agricultural Practices) Certification. Through a partnership with the Iowa State University Extension, we work to find the most practical and affordable way for our growers to achieve GAP certification. Growers must be able to provide their product in institutional case size lots, and are expected to clean, sanitize and package the product in industry standard packaging. Packaging and sanitizing supplies are purchased in bulk and provided for sale to the producers at cost by the cooperative.

If you are interested in trying to market your produce through us, please download our membership questionaire, fill it in, and send it back to us, or contact the Membership Committee for more information.