Farming relief comes naturally

Two Southwest natural food co-ops are joining with other co-ops to assist family farmers hurt by the floods hitting the Midwest during the past week.

The Wedge and Linden Hills co-ops are combining with Twin Cities co-ops and co-ops in Wisconsin and Iowa to provide financial support to farmers through the Sow the Seeds Fund, a project by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy promoting local foods in the Midwest.

“This flood is particularly disastrous to farmers because they are preparing to harvest their summer crops,” said Barth Anderson, research and development coordinator for the Wedge Co-op. “Some of our suppliers have lost their entire harvest, others have lost a substantial portion of it, and many have sustained damage or devastation to their homes. More important, however, is the emotional and financial impact felt by our farming partners. Our hearts go out to them.”

“The farmers throughout Southeast Minnesota and Wisconsin are not only business partners with the Twin Cities co-ops, they’re our friends,” said Kim Kusnier, marketing programs specialist for National Cooperative Grocers Association (Twin Cities natural food co-ops are members of the association). “Many of our member co-ops and their customers are devotees to these farmers’ brands and products. Now, we’d like to encourage the community to ‘think with their wallet’ by contributing to the flood relief fund.”

The co-ops are accepting tax-deductible cash and check donations. You can get more information at www.sowtheseedsfund.org.

Peace Coffee has also created a new Sow the Seeds coffee blend to raise money for the farmers. The local coffee company will donate $2 for every pound purchased to the Sow the Seeds Fund.

The Wedge has posted a lot of information about its organic food suppliers affected by the floods at www.wedge.coop.

The flooded areas in southeast Minnesota and southwest Wisconsin are home to hundreds of organic farmers. According to the Wedge, the region has the second highest concentrations of organic farms in the county.

Several Wedge suppliers — including Featherstone Organic Farm, Avalanche Organics, Driftless Organic and Keewaydin Farm — have been devastated by the flooding, according to a Wedge blog posting. “This is the flip-side of eating local and supporting local farmers: Along with the triumph of the tomatoes and blueberries, we experience the tragedies, too,” a Wedge blogger noted.