Iowa City and Cedar Rapids bring co-ops into the digital age

Photo by ElizD, Flickr

Local farmers from the Iowa City and Cedar Rapids area are about to receive a digital boost. The Iowa Valley Food Co-Op is the latest co-op to try increasing the distribution of local food by utilizing the web. Des Moines’ Iowa Food Cooperative flourished after beginning a similar undertaking in 2008.

Conscientious eaters can sign-up for the Iowa Valley Food Co-op on their webpage. After signing-up, users browse the available products and place their order. The orders are then picked up at the First Presbyterian Church in Cedar Rapids on a designated date each month.

The co-op opens on Sept. 21st, but users can place their orders starting this Thursday. The initial membership costs $25 with a $10 a year fee to keep the membership.

According to Iowa Valley Food’s website, a survey by a group of University of Iowa students helped spur the co-op’s creation. The survey found that nearly 70 percent of the respondents were interested in joining a co-op that directly connected consumers with local farmers.

The Press-Citizen also reports that the co-op encourages inexperienced food producers to get involved:

Singerman, 64, said her goal is to encourage those who are interested in becoming part of the food industry to join as a producer.

“Many (of our producers) are just starting,” she said. “Some are local bakers, some make jams and jellies. … The farmers market is a tremendous outlet for that initiative, but we have a good base built here.”

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