At the final stop on our Kalamazoo farm and foodie tour, we visited the People’s Food Co-Op of Kalamazoo and the Fair Food Matters Can-Do Kitchen. Both of these businesses have, in their heart, a goal of providing healthy, sustainable food to the community of Kalamazoo and surrounding areas in Michigan. Located downtown Kalamazoo, these two businesses closely integrate themselves with area restaurants, local farmers, and other business initiatives in the area.
The People’s Food Co-Op of Kalamazoo is a consumer-owned cooperative grocery store founded back in 1970. Their aim is to source as many local goods as possible, while providing products free of chemicals, additives, and preservatives. In doing so, the Co-Op successfully kept $300,000 in the community last year. Inside the store, you will find fresh produce, a deli, bulk foods, sustainable practices, and more.
Though the Co-Op encourages ownership, anyone is welcome to shop in the store. To be an owner means people are personally investing in the future of the Co-Op (for sometimes as little as $10 a month). In other words, those who choose to become an owner receive an active ownership of an amazing local grocery store. Benefits also include: owner specials on a bi-weekly basis, case discounts, 10% discounts and appreciation days, voting privileges on the Board of Directors, and more.
Located in the same building as the Co-Op, the Fair Food Matters Can-Do Kitchen enjoys the support of the Co-Op and successful integration of vision and missions. The Can-Do Kitchen is a food business incubator that rents commercial kitchen space. The kitchen offers small business workshops, assistance with food licensing, business support, local connections, and more. Some of the businesses utilizing the space are doing so from scholarships awarded by the organization.
The Can-Do Kitchen has hosted a number of different start-up food businesses in the past and present. They are currently full for the rest of this year; however, will be accepting applications for 2014 spaces. The space is available to rent to just about anyone; rental agreements range from one time use, to occasional, to catering, and beyond.
A few of the current vendors using the Can-Do Kitchen space include: The Adventures of Barb & Tammy (granola flavors, nut mixes, and biscotti), Ageless Pantry LLC (cold teas), Clara’s Kitchen (Mike’s Famous Michigan Bean Dip), Peaceful Pastries (Vegan and Gluten-Free pastries and mixes), Perfect Blend Coffee & Desserts (hand mixed flavored coffee beans), and more!
What are your favorite products from the People’s Co-Op and Can-Do Kitchen in Kalamazoo?
Photo credit: Kristin Coppens