The sixth cooperative principle is
“Cooperation among cooperatives”
And we have so much to gain through cooperation. Small things become new, complex, effective when they work together: a hive, organs, transportation systems, the UN, brass bands. We live, breathe, govern, and make music by cooperating.
So while we’re building farmer cooperatives, we’re also building a regional network of refugee farmer co-ops. The co-ops share resources, land, and skills. We are building marketing channels that can support diverse, local refugee communities, and save the farmers time, money, and effort by working together.
What we are building is so much more than the farmers can be apart.
A land cooperative saves members money through sharing infrastructure and tools, and buying in bulk. Farmers learn better management techniques quicker and easier than on their own or in a traditional classroom by sharing skills.
A marketing cooperative gives members access to bigger and a greater number of markets while saving members time and money accessing those markets. The farmers can reach more communities and keep prices affordable for low-income customers.
A network of refugee farmers can support new refugee farmers starting businesses, and each other. Many refugees do not speak English, but having other established farmers who speak their language makes it easier to connect and find resources. In our experience, even refugee farmers who don’t speak the same language are better able to communicate and support each other because of their shared experiences practicing subsistence agriculture and living in a country where they do not speaking the dominant language.
It would be hard to over-state the degree that cooperation among farmers, with organizations, and within communities has advanced our mission, and the potential that still exists for us to go further, together.
As we are entering our third year working together, we would like to give a special “Thank you” to the Cooperative Development Institute. We wouldn’t be where we are today without your support and cooperation.