Spotlight on our Community Co-ops.
- Artisan Beverage Cooperative
- Toolbox for Education and Social Action (TESA)
- Valley Green Feast (VGF)
- Valley Co-operative Business Association (VCBA)
Artisan Beverage Cooperative was founded in 2013 by the owners of Katalyst Kombucha LLC and Green River Ambrosia LLC. Katalyst Kombucha had been producing kombucha teas since 2005 in Greenfield, Massachusetts and Green River Ambrosia began producing meads and Ginger Libation at the Katalyst brewery in 2007. After a few years of working together, they decided to merge the companies and convert the two businesses into a worker-owned cooperative. Both Katalyst Kombucha and Green River Ambrosia were founded on missions to promote environmental stewardship, democratic governance, sustainable agriculture, and a strong local economy. As each company developed independently, it became clear that by joining forces their mission could be fulfilled more effectively and the operations could become more efficient.
Their Cooperative’s mission is to produce the highest quality beverages possible, taking into account the social and economic impacts of all decisions of the cooperative, and to demonstrate, through their success, the viability of worker cooperatives and fairly traded goods.
Their Guiding Principles are to:
• Trade directly with local farmers when possible and purchase internationally from democratically-organized small farmer cooperatives
• Pay producers a price that provides a stable source of income as well enables them to invest in their communities
• Provide high-quality products
• Support sustainable farming practices
• Build a democratically-run cooperative workplace
• Develop more environmentally sound business practices
Their Green River Ambrosia meads are available from Boston to the Berkshires, their Ginger Libation is available in much of the Northeast region (and beyond!), and their Katalyst Kombucha is distributed along much of the East Coast.
For more info visit www.artbev.coop or call 413-773-9700.
The worker-owned co-op, the Toolbox for Education and Social Action (TESA), creates imaginative, experiential resources to transform the way people think, learn, teach, work, and act.
In their work, TESA addresses social change, economic (in)justice, and progressive education with the goal of making all aspects of our lives more democratic. As educators, they have seen that this begins with how we learn, so their organizational focus is on developing educational resources for social change movements. What sets TESA’s work apart from that of other organizations is that it is rooted in democracy and participation. They work with people to develop educational experiences that fit their circumstances.
Brian Van Slyke started TESA in June 2010. In the last three years, they have grown from one worker-owner to four, and their projects and clients
have expanded considerably. Their work includes consulting with organizations to democratize their workplaces, trainings, events, and materials. TESA regularly develops democratic and participatory curricula for a variety of people and organizations. These curricula have been used in academies for start-up co-ops, grade school and college classrooms, and activist workshops.
Probably the most fun aspect of TESA’s work is designing games, such as Co-opoly: The Game of Cooperatives, which have sold around the world and people have used in classrooms and workplaces. TESA uses games to teach and to give people the experience of what a co-op is like, even if they’ve never been part of one before. They are excited that Co-opoly is expanding internationally, with licensing agreements in Europe, Korea, Argentina, and Chile.
For more information about TESA, please visit their website at www.toolboxfored.org
Valley Green Feast (VGF), the farmers market at your door, brings local, organic food to homes and offices all year round. VGF is a worker owned co-operative that provides a non-commitment based delivery service all over the Pioneer Valley (and now Boston). VGF was started in 2007 with the mission to support local farms and make it easier for consumers to get local products.
Customers can order customizable produce boxes that come in different sizes and fill their shopping carts with local dairy, eggs, meat, baked goods, coffee, and so much more. They work closely with small farmers and producers in Massachusetts with an emphasis on sourcing organic, fair trade, and co-operatively produced food.
VGF is committed to being part of a local food system that minimizes environmental impacts and strengthens the local economy. They aim to contribute to a more sustainable community in the Connecticut River Valley of Western Massachusetts with the service, products, and education that they provide.
The Valley Co-operative Business Association (VCBA) was incorporated in 2012 as a cross-sector co-operative of co-operatives, which includes credit unions. VCBA’s mission is to assist and promote co-operatives, encourage collaboration among co-operatives and initiate and foster relations with local, regional, and state governments. The organization was founded in order to help find and forge connections among co-operatives, with the belief that co-operatives are stronger when they work together.
VCBA’s responsibility also involves preparing the legal issues regarding cooperatives, as agreed upon with the sector representatives. VCBA also coordinates regional and national relations for the member cooperatives in our region to connect to work on a national scale. The founders of VCBA are UMassFive College Federal Credit Union, Franklin Community Co-operative (a food co-op), Neighboring Foods Co-operative Association (a co-op of food co-ops), and Valley Alliance of Worker Co-operatives (a co-op of worker co-ops).
To date, VCBA has gathered a robust contact list of co-ops in Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin counties and has invited this network to a number of public events to help raise its profile. We’ve had numerous resolutions signed by legislators in our region, recognizing the advantages of co-ops. We also organize shared advertising and marketing in print, social media, and radio advertising. As both a founder and a co-operative, we look forward to VCBA helping to advance the economic vibrancy of co-operatives throughout the Pioneer Valley. For more information, follow Valley Co-operative Business Association on Facebook or visit www.vcba.coop.