Welcome. Thanks for checking us out.
We are a collaborative of people from all over the world who are
building the economic power of historically marginalized
communities through food justice initiatives that are sustainable
to our planet. We source land in under-utilized urban areas to
create family farms that produce culturally relevant foods which
sustain indigenous traditions and nourish diverse communities.
Through entrepreneurial opportunities, the Village advances the
development of food sovereignty.
The mission of the Village Agricultural Cooperative is three-fold:
Connect people with land, water, and culture
Provide education and resource connections
Grow the farmers and food producers of tomorrow
Vision: A healthy, equitable, and inclusive food system for a sustainable future.
History: The Village was founded in Spring of 2019 by local partnerships between staff of University of Minnesota - Rochester, Diversity Council, Rochester Cambodian Association, Olmsted County Public Health, U of MN Extension Education, Rochester Farmers Market, Plant a Seed, Channel One Food Shelf, and many other local organizations. Registered as a nonprofit with the State of Minnesota in February of 2020, the Village continued to grow and earned federal 501(c)3 status in March 2022. Our nonprofit business continues to grow as we look to lift historically marginalized communities through access to land and increased contributions to local markets.
Our original goal was to help our elderly immigrant communities find places in Rochester where they were able to grow food in community, and were welcomed to the space. We have since grown to support local growers from over 22 countries who wish to integrate into local farms and markets. We began our own market at the History Center in 2022 through a partnership with Renewing the Countryside and the USDA. In 2023, we've begun development of formal farmer education through a partnership with Big River Farms, The Food Group. By growing food we increase our health through movement, community, and nutritious foods.
We now support over 200 families at 6 different sites of leased properties in and around Rochester, comprising more than 11 acres of urban and rural farmland, where our growers rent land on a pay-what-you-can basis and grow foods specific to their country of origin. We also serve a number of senior members of our community who have downsized their homes, and young emerging farmers who are looking for a place to get started.
In addition, our mission has grown to include supporting local entrepreneurs whom are producing value-added foods for sale in local markets. Navigating local licensing regulations can have many challenges, and support is needed to gain access to these systems and also access local commercial kitchens. This aspect brings the food production full circle, for what we grow from the ground is turned into prepared foods that appeal to our diverse communities and preserve family recipes for generations to come.
The Village was built around the needs of local community-based assessments which include:
Food Sovereignty: the right for all people to have culturally appropriate food which is created through sustainable methods, preserving the food systems for future generations.
Environmental Justice: the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people in the development and implementation of adequate food systems which feed our people and care for our planet.
Community Integration: strengthens us as a whole by incorporating our diverse skillsets and knowledge bases to create circles where individuals feel strengthened, supported, and connected to and by the world around them.
Regenerative Agriculture: the process of growing food where we replace what we take from the earth, decrease pollution, protect our watersheds, capture carbon and develop processes which preserve soil structure and integrity, creating a healthier ecosystem.
Locally Sourced Food: less reliance on lengthy and complex supply chains, lowered dependence on drought stricken regions with over-worked soils, more dependable access to fresh food and increased food security.
Our work is important because the state of Minnesota has some of the largest disparities in wealth, education, and home ownership between the white majority and marginalized people of color. Opportunities such as the Village support individuals to reduce their grocery bills, preserve indigenous agricultural practices, share their culture with one another, enhance their physical and mental health, and build a healthier community and planet while growing healthy food. We are educating our youth, valuing our senior members, and working together for a stronger future.