While doors officially opened the summer of 2017, our local roots and ties to the community go way back. We have a start-up mindset with a cooperative structure; we’re committed to putting our community first. We’ve leaned heavily on our prairie self-reliance to bring a food co-op to downtown Fargo. In what was once a food desert is now an oasis of locally grown food in a full service grocery store.

We are dedicated to enhancing our community by providing access to natural, organic, and locally produced food. With Fargo as the backdrop and a solid base of community ownership we are a treasured, communal gathering spot. We understand the importance of strong community ties and nurture these through events, education, and good old fashioned conversation. Let’s do it — together.

What is a co-op?

A cooperative is a member-owned and member-controlled business that operates for the mutual benefit of all owners (in this case, great local food and a healthy community). Cooperatives around the world look to seven internationally recognized principles to guide them. These are:

  • Voluntary and open membership
  • Democratic member control
  • Member economic participation
  • Autonomy and independence
  • Education, training and information
  • Cooperation among cooperatives
  • Concern for community

By adhering to these principles, we stay connected to our owners, to our community, and to the global cooperative movement.


The Board of Directors is the governing body of the cooperative. They set strategic directions for Prairie Roots, monitor the financial health of the co-op, set policies that reflect our shared values, and employ the General Manager. The board will supervise the General Manager, but will not run the day to day operations of the store.

Prairie Roots Food Co-op’s Board is made up of member-owners who represent the collective vision for the future of the co-op. There are currently seven members serving on the Prairie Roots Board of Directors.

Board Meetings are held the first and third Mondays of every month in the Prairie Roots Food Co-op Community Room at 7pm.

Attending Board Meetings is a great opportunity to learn more about your food cooperative.  Owners are granted up to 5-minutes each for comments or questions at the beginning of the regular meeting.  The owner comment period is limited to 20 minutes to ensure that the board has enough time to conduct its regular business.  If a topic requires more attention than time allows, the directors will either identify it as an agenda item for the next board meeting agenda or refer it to the attention of the General Manager.

Can’t attend but have questions?  The Board is always happy to answer questions!  You can start by emailing info@prairieroots.coop to get connected.

Tim Mathern, President

Tim Mathern serve​s in the North Dakota Senate ​and is employed at Prairie St. John’s hospital in Fargo. He is a member of ​cooperatives​ including a bookstore, gas station, credit union​ and two grocery stores​. He has degrees from North Dakota State University, University of Nebraska and Harvard.

​Tim ​serves on​ boards and committees​ including ​Commission on National & Community Service​,​ University of North Dakota School of Medicine & Health Sciences and​ ​YMCA Child Care.

Brian Arett, Vice President

Brian is a life-long resident of Moorhead with degrees in Social Work from Minnesota State University Moorhead and the University of Minnesota. He has worked for over thirty years with Valley Senior Services, an agency based in Fargo and connected to the Fargo Park District, that provides services for the elderly designed to assist them to remain independent as late in life as possible. This agency focuses on good nutrition through their Meals on Wheels and Community Dining efforts and provides Transportation and Case Management services as well.

Brian was a member of the Plain Foods Co-op in Fargo in the 1970’s and is a member with his partner Jann of the St. Peter Food Co-op located close to her hometown of Mankato, Minnesota. He has served on a number of boards of non-profit organizations throughout the Fargo-Moorhead area and is a past member of the Moorhead City Council.

Gretchen Harvey, Secretary

Gretchen has taught American, Indigenous and Environmental history at the college level since 1987, most recently at Concordia College in Moorhead, MN. In February 2016, she “retired” from higher education in order to spend more time writing and engaged in the local-food movement. Gretchen’s passion for high quality food is rooted in her family’s ethnic food traditions, her early work experience in family-owned restaurants, and her various efforts to bring more quality food choices to families in Moorhead and Fargo. In 1989, she helped found Bluestem Prairie Buying Club, a member of Common Health Foods Cooperative in Superior, WI. From 2003-09, she served on the board of the Probstfield Farm Living History Foundation, Inc. and established its organic community garden.

Steve Wood, Treasurer

Born and raised in Fargo, Steve attended North Dakota State University and earned his Bachelors of Accountancy. Currently, he works as a Certified Public Accountant for Fiebiger Swanson West. Active in the community through Olivet Lutheran Church, Team Boaz Community Bike Project, and Junior Achievement, Steve cares about creating a vibrant community in Fargo-Moorhead. In his free time he enjoys biking, being outdoors, and doing home improvement projects.

Prairie Roots is excited to have Steve’s financial acumen on the Board, but also Steve’s joyful candor.

Abby Gold

Abby Gold is a diehard fan of food coops. Abby has been a coop member for all of her adult life, starting in Northampton, MA, then on to Minneapolis, MN, and now here in Fargo, ND (she was one of the first Prairie Roots Food Coop member owners). Coops are a place to develop community around the shared value of providing access to healthy and wholesome food. For her work, Abby is Vice Chair and Associate Professor in the Department of Public Health at North Dakota State University (NDSU). Abby teaches public health to students seeking to bridge the gap between public health and health care systems. Abby is a community engaged scholar, she is actively involved in developing access to healthy foods at a state and local level through the work of the Minnesota Food Charter and the Cass Clay Food Partnership and she also studies the intersection between agriculture and health. She is keenly interested in the aspects of culture and society that create environments for promoting health for all individuals, rather than just for the few that can afford to keep themselves and their own families healthy. Abby will bring these skills, values, and passions to the Prairie Roots Food Coop Board of Directors.

Josh Ulrich

Josh Ulrich was born and raised in Minnesota.  Following graduation he spent time in Kenya and Russia doing humanitarian aid and religious work before settling in Fargo.

Currently, Josh leads the sales division at Time Communications, a company focused on bringing quality customer service to businesses nationwide.  He previously worked as a supervisor and trainer for Time Communications and has a passion for working with others to create a positive customer experience.  Josh enjoys contributing to the community in any way possible to benefit the area.  He is excited to serve on the board for Prairie Roots Food Co-op and expand the reach of healthy and quality food in our community.

Lynn Brakke

Lynn Brakke and his wife Dee farm near Moorhead, MN. They switched their farming operation from conventional to organic in 1993 and now raise food grade soybeans, blue corn, yellow corn, wheat, alfalfa, dry beans sugar beets and organic grass-fed beef which they direct market to customers in their area through home delivery as well as retail at Prairie Roots Food Co-op.

Lynn has long experience with cooperatives as a member-owner of Organic Valley for almost a decade and is on their Grower Executive Committee. He’s excited about Prairie Roots because he’s passionate about our mission to get healthy food to everyone in our community.
Arlette Preston

Arlette Preston and her husband, Richard, live in downtown Fargo and are thrilled that an organic grocery store (even better – a co-op) opened close enough to walk to! Arlette is a Registered Nurse with a Master’s of Nursing in Community Health. She worked in a hospital setting for 20+ years before setting out on her own to start a business. She owns the local office of Home Instead Senior Care.

She has been a member of a co-op in Minneapolis for 10 years before joining the Prairie Roots Co-op. As a nurse, Arlette is committed to ensuring access to healthy foods and raising awareness in the community about the impact of what an individual eats on their health status.


A cooperative (co-op for short) is a business governed by its owners. An owner is anyone in the community who chooses to buy a share in the co-op. When you join Prairie Roots, you cooperatively own the business.

With a board of directors in place and owner voting rights, a co-op inherently allows for real voices to be heard. Yours, and your neighbor, and maybe the handyman that fixed your sink last week, if he’s an owner too. It’s designed to operate with group goals in mind rather than an unforgiving bottom line with no tangible benefit for the community as whole.

What about a food co-op, what does this mean for us all? Well if you’re an owner, then you have an additional list of benefits. But even if you aren’t an owner, you can still shop and have access to local, all natural, organic, and specialty foods.

It means that local producers gain broader access to the local market. Which benefits all of us in terms of fresh, local food and competitive prices to boot. We keep dollars local and feed resources back into our community — something that now feels more important than ever before.

If you think this is as cool as we do, pop over to our Ownership Page and join us by owning a piece of Prairie Roots.

Prairie Roots Co-op FAQ

How much does it cost to become an owner?

Our one time ownership fee is $300 with a variety of payment options starting at only $25. You only pay once and receive great benefits like discounts in the store and voting rights. Visit our ownership page to learn more.

Can I still sign up to become an owner?

Absolutely! Owners are welcome to join anytime, even after we open. As a cooperative, we are as strong as our owners. We believe Fargo/Moorhead has the potential to have tens of thousands of co-op owners who are investing in their community-owned grocery store and supporting local food.

Do I have to be an owner to shop at the store?

No, everyone is welcome to shop at the co-op, but owners get special benefits and privileges, including special sale prices and more. Check out all the ownership benefits HERE.

If you have another question not listed here please contact our General Manager of Prairie Roots Food Co-op at gm@prairieroots.coop.


Prairie Roots Food Cooperative is dedicated to building a healthy community by providing access to natural, organic, and locally produced food. It is our goal to offer owners and shoppers a choice of products and information that promote personal, economic, and environmental health and sustainability. We will act as a buying agent for our owners, not a selling agent for manufacturers.

The Management Team at Prairie Roots is presented with a wide range of products and must determine what products should or should not be carried by our store. This product policy will guide them in making buying decisions and informs consumers about what they can expect from our products.

First and foremost, our products will be natural: Containing no artificial flavors, artificial colors, artificial preservatives, artificial sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup or hydrogenated oils.

We will give strong preference to products that are:

  • Locally produced (1)
  • Certified organic
  • Produced utilizing practices that support environmentally sustainable agriculture
  • Fair trade certified
  • Free of growth hormones, antibiotics, or genetically modified organisms (2)
  • Raised using sound animal husbandry and humane practices
  • Fairly priced, offering our owners value for their money
  • Packaged minimally and/or with materials that are manufactured and disposed of in an environmentally sound manner
  • Produced and distributed by vendors who meet city and state civil rights policies and run their businesses ethically
  • Produced or distributed by cooperatively owned vendors
  • Produced by manufacturers who do not utilize animal testing
  • Help meet the needs of people on specialty diets, such as products that are wheat-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, etc.
  • Desired by our owners and shoppers
  1. Eating locally can benefit the environment, boost freshness and flavor, and support the rich network of farms in our region. Our co-op defines products as local if they are produced within a 150 mile radius of Fargo/Moorhead, while regional products are defined as those produced within the five state region of North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin.
  2. Prairie Roots Food Co-op opposes GMO foods. While we prefer not to carry any items using genetic engineering/modification, we cannot promise our stores are free of such items. Federal legislation that requires the disclosure of genetically engineered ingredients was signed in July 2016. However, we are still several years out before this law is fully implemented. We continue to advocate for stronger labeling requirements and work to educate our shoppers about foods that are more likely to contain GMO ingredients, so that they may choose what is right for their diets.

Are you interested in becoming a Prairie Roots seller?

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