CommonWealth Cooperative

A multi-farm organic food subscription and distribution service commonwealthcoopera...

What's the big idea?

Member-owned and operated cold storage and distribution center that provides online ordering and delivery of local/organic goods to Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo. Members of the co-op can engage with the farmer’s who supply the CommonWealth through an educational work exchange program, thereby connecting direct to the source and learning in-depth the origin of what they consume and the importance of supporting local food systems.

Describe the nearest player in your field.

Door to Door Organics, Farm Box

How are you different from that player?

D2DO is online only and offers goods produced throughout the US. Farm Box is CSA supplied by only a couple farms, primarily located in Lansing area. Neither offer an educational component.

How does this idea scale into a big business?

A series of distribution centers representing the small producers of that region. The cooperative model can be applied almost anywhere.

Why are you the one to run with this idea?

I am a young farmer, cheese maker, designer and environmentalist with infectious enthusiasm who wants to improve her community, and create a positive dialogue between rural and urban environments.

What is a $5,000 experiment you can do to move your idea forward?

Invest towards a larger delivery vehicle which would allow for more goods to be delivered

There have been 9 replies to this page

  1. Matthew Paul Fowler

    this is beautiful! i’m very proud of all the people involved here, great job! and blessings!

  2. Marie-Claire Camp

    Very exciting project. You’ll do great!

  3. Emily Elyssa Johnston


    I would like to add that it is the hope of the CommonWealth to not only supply metro areas like Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids with organic produce and artisan goods but to also offer the people of those cities with opportunities to connect with the farmers who comprise the CommonWealth, be it through workshops, educational programming or work exchange opportunities. Endorse! and be part of something good for your community!

  4. Charles Armillio

    Great Video Emily, good luck on the project! It looks like you have the most worthy project this week!!!!

  5. Linda Johnston

    Proud of you!

  6. Ruby Lou

    Emily, I really hope this idea is funded! I would certainly sign-up as a customer myself, and I know several others who would, too. The lack of food in local grocery stores that is actually pure, simple, natural, FOOD—- is a huge problem. There are additives and preservatives and genetically modified organisms in just about everything, and half the time even store-pseudo brands with “Naturals” marketing is still nutritionally junk. Grand Rapids doesn’t have many natural and organic food stores, the one closest to me is at least 20 miles, and still doesn’t carry everything I need that I would normally buy from a typical store like Meijer or FamilyFare. Consumers are getting smarter and smarter and starting to care more about the ingredients in their food and get savvier about reading the labels everyday. Not only would your service help us to support local food-producers, farmers, and the local economy as a whole, it would truly make the Michigan families who use the service happier and healthier. Endorsed!

  7. Ken Quayle

    Keep up the great work Emily.  Your vision is strong and there is a community there to support your idea.  Good luck!

  8. Emily Elyssa Johnston


    Thank you for all your support! It is a difficult thing to organize a cooperative, but the rewards will outweigh the struggle. We all deserve to eat healthfully, and we should all embrace our communities and support one another in whatever ways we are able. Growing your own food is one of the most environmentally smart practices a person can do. If you can’t do that, buying your produce, bread, cheese and other foodstuffs from a local organic farmer is the next best thing. Organizing the delivery of those goods to markets who desire a connection to their food is a big step towards educating the general population and making great strides in reducing our national reliance on conventional agriculture. It brings people together and unifies them in good taste! WE ALL EAT. Let’s take care of ourselves and our cities. Support the Common Wealth!

  9. Joel Wabeke

    Great idea. Perfect for expanding on the csa idea and bringing in more of the food needs of a family.

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