The Delridge Grocery Co-op has been the dream of the Delridge residents for years.
Some longtime residents remember when a store next to the K-mart served the food needs of the neighborhood, while others remember when there was a produce stand not far from their homes. Seattle as a whole has a reputation as a ‘green’ city, so it’s not surprising that many Delridge and West Seattle residents want a local, sustainable food source within walking distance of their homes.
In early 2009, a small group of people set out to try to make healthy food (and our co-op) a reality for Delridge.
The first event of the Delridge Grocery Co-op, originally named the Delridge Produce Cooperative, was a potluck supported by a grant from the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods’ Small Sparks program. With two bands, a professional chef, a raffle, and representatives from several supportive organizations,. the Produce Partners Potluck was intended to foment participation in the cooperative creation processFollowing that event, community support grew.
The Mobile Market was born.
Delridge Grocery Co-op volunteers heard about another grant from the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods that could help small organizations accomplish goals that would improve their neighborhoods. Because Delridge is so diverse, it is sometimes a major feat to get everyone to cooperate. Co-op volunteers applied for $15,000 to further improve awareness of how the residents of Delridge could work together to provide a source of healthy food for everybody. Only seven months after the first work on the Delridge Grocery Co-op was begun, and the Co-op volunteers were handing out free fruits and vegetables to the neighborhood.
By the end of The Mobile Market, the project had redistributed donations from residents, farms, and businesses, showing residents how a local food hub works. Almost all of it was grown locally and without pesticides, and much of it came from backyard gardens in Delridge. The project demonstrated the cooperative aspect of the Delridge Grocery Co-op’s business model, which includes the participation of small backyard farmers, proving that the residents of Delridge can contribute to the food security of the neighborhood.
Demand for the Co-op Model Grew.
A survey of more than 500 people, taken at the Mobile Market demonstrated the willingness of Delridge residents to join a co-op and buy their fruits and vegetables from a produce stand instead of a full-service grocery store.
Community Collaboration, Incorporation, and the DESC partnership became real.
Delridge Grocery Co-op volunteers acted on the survey respondents’ vote of confidence for the next two years, continuing to engage the neighborhood’s ideas and dreams of a storefront. Our vision developed as we held community focus groups in 2010.
We incorporated (as Delridge Produce Cooperative) on September 14th, 2010, and developed a buyer’s club in 2011, buying wholesale produce from local farmers to distribute to members.
The time was ripe for a move to make a retail location a reality. In late 2011, we began talks with Downtown Emergency Services Center (DESC), who was planning a building to house homeless individuals on Delridge Way. DESC generously offered to develop the retail ground level space in their building with our co-op in mind.
We worked with DESC and an architect in early 2012 to develop a floor plan for the space as well as improvements and equipment, including refrigeration. DESC and the Delridge Grocery Co-op signed a Memorandum of Understanding, and DESC generously offered resources to pay for development of the space and work out favorable lease terms for us based on profits.
The Time to Start the Co-op Build Out is Now Here.
Since 2009, a small group of volunteers has worked together to make this co-op a reality for Delridge, it’s now up to each and every one of us that cares about whole food and community to do their part and become a member, today!
To understand the effort that has taken place, here’s a Timeline of the Delridge Grocery Co-op’s Story: