By Justin Trammel

Saturday, Feb. 16,  was the second day of the NFU College Conference on Cooperatives (CCOC) in Minneapolis.  We started the day off with a breakfast social after which we split into three groups and toured three local co-ops. We first toured a senior citizen housing co-op, 7500 York Cooperative, the nation’s first senior housing cooperatives.  Here we learned what goes into a co-op of that magnitude (presently they serve over 400 residents). Because of the tenant cooperation, the compound houses a store, barbershop,and a bank as well as recreation rooms and
social rooms.

A local co-op grocery store, Mississippi Market Food Co-Op, was next on the tour. This coop specialized in local and organic foods which had comparable prices to those in my hometown of Canyon, Tex. This sparked some interesting conversations and led to an establishment of potentially very
beneficial contacts. A visit to the REI sporting goods store co-op wrapped up our tours.

Front row, l-r: Gabe Rysdahl, I-ImpactNow; Justin Trammell, Ogallala Commons Back rom, l-r: Savannah Hales, Federation of Southern Cooperatives; Eve Iversen, Sustainable Ag; Megan England, Ogallala Commons; CHS Foundation President William Nelson; Gianni Parente, Cornell University; Pam Madzima, Federation of Souther Cooperatives

After the tours we listened to two panels, the first on cooperatives from a farmer’s perspective, and the second on co-ops that provide services to meet needs. A presentation by Eric Kornacki on his organization, Revision International, was particularly interesting to me because his non-profit is using a coop approach to combat food deserts which is one of the issues I face in my community. When the panels concluded, we were treated to dinner and a production of “Ring of Fire: The Life and Music of Johnny Cash.”  Overall it was a very successful and productive day.

Learn more about the CCOC at

Justin Trammel, participant at the NFU CCOC, is a graduate student from Texas who is currently an intern for the nonprofit rural community development organization, Ogallala Commons.

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