FAQ

About the Queens Harvest Food Co-op

Food Co-op Basics

 

About the Queens Harvest Food Co-op

What is the Queens Harvest Food Co-op?

We are a community organization starting a brand new retail food co-op to serve the residents of Western Queens and surrounding areas. Everybody is welcome to join us in our effort to bring this valuable new resource to our area.

The Queens Harvest Food Co-op will make it easy for the residents of Queens to buy fresh food at reasonable prices. The co-op will be both a grocery store and an educational center that offers cooking and nutrition classes along with movies, talks, and workshops on gardening, composting, and living sustainably.

Wait a sec… isn’t a co-op a type of apartment or real estate?

Yes, real estate co-ops, where different residents share ownership of an apartment building and are governed by an elected co-op board, are very common in New York City.  Queens Harvest Food Co-op is a food co-op in which different consumers share ownership.

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Is the food co-op open?

No, not just yet. Our team of dedicated volunteers has been working on this project since 2009 and has made substantial progress towards opening the retail location of the co-op. The more people we get to join us in our effort, the sooner we can open our doors.

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When will the co-op open?

Our launch date is dependent on our hard working volunteers and financing. Want to shop there soon? Consider making a financial contribution toward outreach and business planning, or attend the next meeting to find out how you can help.

Where will the Queens Harvest Food Co-op store be located?

The location is unknown at this time. Originally, we were targeting the area around Queens Plaza as a location for the co-op. However, due to fluctuations in the real estate market, we are also considering locations in Astoria, Sunnyside, LIC, and Woodside. If you’d like to get involved with the Site Selection committee, please contact us at info@queensharvestcoop.com.

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Will the co-op have “green” or sustainable business practices?

Yes, environmental sustainability is one of our basic guiding principles. Specifically:

  • The Queens Harvest Food Co-op will support and purchase from local, organic, sustainable and independent sources wherever possible.
  • The co-op will operate using environmentally responsible practices where possible employing such practices as selling minimally packaged products and buying and selling items in bulk bins.
  • The co-op will be built and run as sustainably as possible. For example, our building will be as energy-efficient as possible and we will compost our food waste. Additionally, we will educate the community about the value of these practices.

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What are the co-op’s Guiding Principles?

The Queens Harvest Food Co-op has articulated the following principles to guide our decision-making and business practices and further define the co-op:

Sustainability

  • The Queens Harvest Food Co-op will support and purchase from local, organic, sustainable and independent sources wherever possible.
  • The co-op will operate using environmentally responsible practices where possible employing such practices as selling minimally packaged products and buying and selling items in bulk bins.
  • The co-op will be built and run as sustainably as possible. For example, our building will be as energy-efficient as possible and we will compost our food waste. Additionally, we will educate the community about the value of these practices.

Ethics and Responsibility

  • The co-op will promote socially responsible practices, choice and products.
  • The co-op will aim to provide products affordable  to all community members whatever their economic means and to this end the co-op will aim to accept food assistance programs (such as WIC and SNAP).

Education

  • The co-op is committed to creating positive impact through education by providing information and resources for healthy living.

Community

  • The co-op will honor diversity and be a welcoming place for all members of the community.

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Where is the money to open the store coming from?

Currently, the money comes from individual contributions and fundraisers like our successful Queens Eats tasting event. These are essential for conducting community outreach, performing a feasibility study and creating a formal business plan, requirements for obtaining bank loans for small businesses. Other funding will come from member capitalization, member equity and member loans.

We also have an active Finance committee applying for funding from government programs and non-profit foundations. If you are interested in joining the Finance committee, email us at info@queensharvestcoop.com. And of course, if you have any other ideas for raising capital, we would love to hear from you!

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What other services for the community will the co-op offer?

The Queens Harvest Food Co-op will be both a grocery store and an educational center that offers cooking and nutrition classes along with movies, talks, and workshops on gardening, composting, and living sustainably. The co-op is committed to creating a positive impact through education by providing information and resources for healthy living.

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How do I get in touch with someone from the co-op?

Who should I contact to get involved with committees such as outreach, marketing, membership, etc?

Write to info@queensharvestcoop.com and indicate your area of interest. The appropriate person will be in touch.

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Where do your meetings take place?

Many of our meetings take place at All Saints Episcopal Church in Sunnyside, but we also have events and meetings in Astoria, LIC, and Woodside. Check the events listing on our homepage for the location of the event you are interested in attending. Each committee has their own meetings that are convened in different places.

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How can I make a financial contribution to support the co-op?

Financial contributions toward co-op outreach and development can be mailed by check or money order to the following address:

Queens Harvest Food Co-op
PO Box 3492
Long Island City, NY 11103-9997

Please note that by law, cooperative businesses are not considered non-profit, and contributions are not usually tax deductible.

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How will the Queens Harvest Food Co-op be different from the Park Slope Food Co-op?

Compared to the Park Slope Food Co-op with 15,000 members, the Queens Harvest Food Co-op will be small (at first). We are confident that membership will grow, so we are looking for an appropriate size storefront with room to expand. The other main difference is that the Queens Harvest Food Co-op will be open to anyone who wants to shop there, regardless of membership status.

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I am a member of the Park Slope Food Co-op but I live in Queens. Can I do my work hours for PSFC by volunteering with the Queens Harvest Food Co-op?

Yes, you can! We have successfully integrated PSFC members into our fold, working on projects such as the buying club and outreach. Email info@queensharvestcoop.com to be connected with our PSFC volunteer liaison who can explain the details to you.

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Food Co-op Basics

What is a food co-op?

A food co-op is a grocery store that is owned and operated by the people who shop there. Food co-ops have various models, but some common features of most food co-ops are:

  • social responsibility
  • cost-effective pricing
  • support for local/organic/independent producers
  • cooperative work principles
  • concern for the environment
  • volunteerism
  • a sense of community

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How is a food co-op different from a conventional grocery store?

A conventional grocery store is typically owned by an individual, a family, or a corporation. The food is sourced and priced according to what will generate the most profit from the shoppers.

A co-op is owned and operated by the people who shop there; food co-op members all have an equal stake in the store. They decide together what type of food to sell and at what prices to sell it. Typically, prices at food co-ops are lower than a normal grocery store, and profits are funneled back into the store or into the pockets of the members.

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Why would someone want to shop at a co-op instead of a regular grocery store?

Most people shop at food co-ops to save money on their grocery bills. Besides value, here are some of the other reasons you might want to shop at a co-op:

  • Food co-ops are generally also able to work with smaller, more local suppliers, giving members access to organic and local food that customers of local grocery stores wouldn’t be able to access.
  • Many people join food co-ops because of environmental or political concerns with the industrial food system. Being a member of a food co-op gives you more choice in the foods that are available to you and the other people in your community.
  • Shopping at a co-op is much more fun than shopping at a regular store. Every member has an equal say in the running of a co-op, and can vote on issues that are relevant to the running of the store and the organization, from food choices to physical changes to the store.

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Where can I learn more about food co-ops?

Outside Resources About Co-ops

Cooperative Development Institute (CDI) is the Northeast’s center for cooperative business education, training and technical assistance.

The Cooperative Grocer is the website of the industry magazine for consumer cooperative grocery stores. It includes an index of topics with links to previously published articles on such diverse issues as governance, education, marketing, and sustainability. This site also includes a directory of Food Co-ops in the U.S..

The Go Co-op web site includes information about all sorts of cooperatives all across the nation.

For a more international perspective, check out The Co-Operative Group. This is a UK-based site that provides information about and a directory of the many types of cooperative businesses in Great Britain.

The Queens Harvest Food Co-op, and in fact the modern cooperative movement as a whole, trace our ancestry back to Rochdale in the U.K., and the original Co-op store in Toad Lane.

Where can I learn more about other co-operative businesses?

There are many kinds of co-operative businesses – consumer co-ops like Queens Harvest Food Co-op, real estate co-op apartments, worker co-ops, and producer co-ops with familiar names like Sunkist and Organic Valley. Credit Unions are co-operatively owned banks. For a detailed description of the different types of co-operative business models, visit the Cooperative Development Institute.

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Got additional questions, comments, or suggestions on things that might not be in our FAQ? Drop us a line at info@queensharvestcoop.com. We look forward to hearing from you!

This page last updated 8/18/14

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