Local Ownership, Democracy, Community Building, and Cooperation

0 Flares Filament.io 0 Flares ×

Common Ground Food Co-op has grown and thrived on these, the seven principles of
the international cooperative movement, for 33 years. Now, about to enter into its 34th
year, Common Ground is relocating for the first time in its history.
Common Ground was founded in the basement of the Illinois Disciples Foundation building
at the corner of Wright and Springfield in Champaign. From the modest beginnings of a
few tables scattered about a room with a few organic foods on offer, the co-op is about to more
than double its current space in a storefront, newly remodeled shop at Lincoln Square Mall.
The store will face Vine Street and will open directly onto a large parking lot area. Common
Ground’s new home is on schedule to open August 15th. Construction started on the
new store as of April and is being headed up by Restorations & Remedies, a local contracting
company owned by co-op member and former co-op board member Tim Gibbs.
The new co-op will be over twice the size of its current shop. Features will include over
48 feet of organic produce cases and shelves, making the co-op’s produce department the
largest exclusively organic and local produce department in Champaign County. A new deli
department is being added after receiving huge demand from current co-op owners and
community members. The deli will feature local ingredients whenever possible and will have
a cold salad bar, hot foods case, three fresh soups every day, a full grab and go case, as well as
fair trade organic coffees. Lincoln Square has generously donated the use of indoor seating
space exclusively for the use of co-op deli diners as well as an outdoor seating area just outside
the co-op’s front door, providing a space not only for dining but to build community.
The groundswell of public support has been amazing throughout the project. Common
Ground’s member-owners personally pledged over $250,000 in direct loans to the
co-op to make the new store a reality, more than any other co-op Common Ground’s size
has ever raised. New members have been pouring in, and investments in and support for
the project has come from numerous public and political figures in Champaign-Urbana.
The expanded store will not only allow Common Ground to bring in more local foods
and support more local farmers. Historically a member-only organization, Common
Ground will be opening its doors to members and non-members alike in August.
In addition to expanding the availability of local and organic foods, Common Ground
will be giving more and more attention to their mission of education at their new location.
The co-op has started an organic demonstration garden in Urbana this summer,
offered gardening workshops, and participated in panels and discussions on local food.
Classes on everything from cooking, to cold frame gardening, to how to build your own
rain barrel are in the works for late 2008.

About Jacqueline Hannah

Jacqueline Hannah is the general manager of Common Ground cooperative.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.