CoFED partners with young people of color from poor and working-class backgrounds to build food and land co-ops.

Firsthand Coffee at West Virginia University

Started in 2010 by a group of students selling coffee to raise money for cooperative coffee farmers in Nicaragua, FIRSTHAND Co-op has grown into a multi-stakeholder cooperative housed within the Food Justice Lab at West Virginia University, incorporating WVU students, alumni, faculty, and various partners into our governance structure. We are committed to creating a global solidarity economy that connects people in Central Appalachia and Central America; from the mountains of coal to the mountains of coffee. To achieve our goals, we educate youth at WVU about cooperative strategies, social and economic justice, and solidarity economies, create wealth through coffee sales at the university and within the broader Morgantown community, and re-distribute surplus capital by investing in businesses that promote income diversification, food sovereignty, and food justice. We are currently partnered with La Base: Nicaragua, a non-extractive financier of worker cooperative development in Nicaragua, and Refresh Appalachia, a workforce development initiative establishing sustainable training and development programs to increase the success of beginning farmers in Central Appalachia in order to shift regional employment away from coal and towards agriculture.

Currently, all labor to run the organization is voluntary, but we’re in the process of creating student internship programs and employment by growing sales and partnerships throughout West Virginia!