Seeders: Our Table Cooperative
The Farm: 60 certified organic acres – 15 miles from Portland – cooperative of farmers, producers and consumers, representing the idea of a new, more localized food system – On-Farm grocery store offering a variety of Certified Local Foods
What They Seed: Certified organic vegetables, berries, apples and pasture-raised chickens.
What They Feed: Our Table “Certified Local Food” sourced directly from producers in Oregon, whenever possible, available from their on-farm grocery
Our Table Cooperative Producer Members: Deck Family Farm, Community Supported Fishery, B&P Hill Farm, Lion Heart Kombucha, Caravan Coffee, Oregon Brineworks, Full Circle Creamery, Angel Food Candy, Something Green, Ladd Hill Orchards, Honor Earth Farm
Where You Can Find Them:
Online: Some products can be special-ordered or purchased online for on-farm pick up.
Retail: New Seasons, City Market, Pastaworks on Hawthorne, Green Zebra Grocery, Food Front, Alberta Co-op, People’s Co-op, Lamb’s Market
Our Table Cooperative is much more than a farm. It was conceptualized with the motivation to do something that would affect and improve the entire food system. They’re working to give people a direct relationship with their food and where it is coming from.
Our Table was founded by Narendra and Machelle Varma and has a unique business structure. It is the collaboration of three different organizations “working together to enable a truly sustainable and economically viable, regional food culture.”
Community By Design LLC was created to realize the vision of Our Table and purchased the 60 acre farm in Sherwood in 2011. This not-for-profit corporation serves to preserve the land for agriculture, which sits just 1 mile from the urban growth boundary, in perpetuity.
Our Table Cooperative is a multi-stakeholder cooperative composed of workers on the farm, regional producers and consumers. Our Table farm exists on the land owned by Community By Design and produces vegetables, blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, apples and an assortment of livestock. The producer members contribute other products such as seafood, beef, cheese and grains. Consumers can join their CSA, participate in events and classes or visit the Our Table grocery at the farm.
The on-farm grocery opened its doors in November 2014 and is an important part of the co-op. Not only can people purchase products from the farm and other Our Table approved producers and members, it also serves to raise awareness and be a place that people can come to interact with the farm.
The Manav Foundation is the third part of Our Table and is the entity that supports educational programs and services to “build a locally adapted culture and economy”. They conduct various educational activities using the farm as a living classroom.
Our Table Cooperative takes the work of a lot of people. Under the the LLC, the 501c3 and the co-op are the farmers and member producers, the board members, the administrative staff, the sales and marketing team and the chefs and value-added managers that are making it all happen. They’re changing the way people think about and access their food and this work is extremely important. Ultimately, Our Table is creating a model that can be exist in any community. And they’re proving it can be done.
“You can eat a diet that’s majority sourced from Oregon and majority organic”
“We’ve seen a shift in farm-to-table with restaurants, now we need to see it in grocery stores”
“Consider economics of scale vs economics of community”
“We’re trying to demystify the local food movement: it’s really just real food grown by real people”
“Local is as far as the heart can travel”
Photo Credit: Shawn Linehan