OUR HISTORY

While doors officially opened this summer, 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. Adjacent to what was once a food desert will now be an oasis of locally grown and sourced 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 look forward to providing a treasured, communal gathering spot. We understand the importance of strong community ties and seek to 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.

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

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 six members serving on the Prairie Roots Board of Directors.

Board Meetings are held the third Tuesday of each month at 7 PM at The Fargo Moorhead Area Foundation, 409 7th Street South in Fargo. Co-op owners are welcome to attend. The latest meeting minutes are available below. To request additional meeting minutes, please email info@prairieroots.coop.

Tim Mathern, President

Tim Mathern has served in elective office in the North Dakota Senate since 1986. He is a member of three cooperatives; a bookstore, gas station, and credit union. He has degrees from North Dakota State University, University of Nebraska and Harvard University.

He serves on a number of boards and committees including Bush Foundation, University of North Dakota School of Medicine & Health Sciences and Common Enterprise Development Corporation.


Tim has been employed at nonprofits including Catholic Charities and Nativity Church. Presently he is the Public Policy Director at Prairie St. John’s. He grew up on a farm near Edgeley, ND.

Prairie Roots Food Cooperative benefits from Tim’s experience in organizational development, insight into legislative process and knowledge of human service and health issues.

Read More

Gretchen Harvey, Vice President

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.

In 2010, she led the establishment of a small teaching garden at Concordia College and later advocated for the addition of a solar-warmed high tunnel for year-round growing, teaching and learning. This facility was constructed in 2015 and serves as an important community resource for urban agriculture education.

Gretchen brings her experiences in education and her passion for developing a strong, localized food system to the Board of Prairie Roots Food Cooperative.

Read More
Ashley Morken, Secretary

Ashley Morken is the owner and operator of Unglued — a modern handmade gift shop and annual craft fest in downtown Fargo. While her formal education from UND with a Bachelors of Science in nursing led her to initially pursue a career as a cardiac RN for 7 years, along the way event planning played a large role in Ashley’s background. Ever since starting Club Friendly as an 11-year-old to repaint over graffiti in neighborhood bridges, Ashley has done a variety of event planning related to community building and arts and music.

As a nurse Ashley was involved in Sanford’s Nursing Senate and assisted her department in executing the new hospital documentation system. With a love of food and going back to the basics growing, she worked with her husband in West Fargo to pass a backyard chicken law during that time as well. This failed miserably in the end but the experience began to grow a desire for food awareness and sustainability. Ashley volunteered with the Prairie Roots Food Co-op as a recorder for 5 months in 2010 until it became time to host the first Unglued: Craft Fest in early 2011.

Through Unglued: Craft Fest and Unglued’s brick and mortar shop Ashley has supported local and regional artists with their creative businesses and works to inspire the FM community to get creative as well. Hosting the Bluebird Gardens CSA drop boxes has additionally kept a tie to food as well as hosting workshops geared towards herb gardens & sprout growing. While sleep for Ashley is not in the near future, as long as the coffee is plentiful there will be more time in the day to build community and inspire others.

Read More
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.

Nick Gard

Nick was raised on a small family farm north of Mott, ND.  He enlisted in the military and served as a paratrooper in the U.S. Army. Upon his discharge from the military he went  on to work in corrections and later received a Master’s degree in social work  and is currently employed as a readjustment counselor at the Fargo Vet Center providing readjustment and counseling services to combat Veterans.

Prior to this, Nick has worked with Veterans addressing housing and medical needs through the Fargo VA Medical Center as well as The Salvation Army.  Nick has also worked as an adjunct faculty member at MSUM Social Work Department teaching Communities and Organizations.

Nick’s upbringing has given him an appreciation for the role that family farms and agriculture play in building and strengthening communities.

Read More
Brian Arrett

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.

Brian is excited to be on the board of the Prairie Roots Co-op and is looking forward to working with the board and membership to make the co-op an incredible addition to our community. Brian and Jann live in south Moorhead and love to grow a variety of organic fruits and vegetables in their backyard. Also, he makes a fantastic apple pie.

Read More

FOOD COOPERATIVE 101

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

When will Prairie Roots Food Co-op open?

We will be opening their doors this summer. Stay tuned for our opening date announcement and of course our Grand Opening Celebration. We hope to see you there!

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.

When will you be hiring?

Visit our hiring page for the latest career opportunities at Prairie Roots Food Co-op.

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

PRODUCT POLICY

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?

Copyright © 2017 Prairie Roots Food Co-op. All rights reserved.