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

Sprouts & Seedlings

University of British Columbia

Vancouver, Canada

This team was founded in 1997 as the UBC Natural Food Co-op (NFC). The NFC created a demonstration garden in Totem field which provided produce to sell and a bulk buying club that allowed its members to pool their money and purchase organic products in large quantities. In 2004, it moved to the Student Union Building and opened Sprouts, a student-run grocery store. Since most students commute to campus and weren’t interested in buying groceries on campus, the store had to close down, and then re-open as a volunteer-run café with a small grocery section in 2008. Today, they have 2 locations, Sprouts and Seedlings, and run a CSA and bulk buying club. Sprouts is a small grocery store and cafe that serves soup lunches and their own baked goods. Seedlings offers a full menu and larger dining area on the other side of campus. They serve organic, local, vegetarian food. It is run by a group of students dedicated to supporting sustainable food systems, cultivating community, and promoting awareness of agriculture, ecology, taste, health, and social justice. It is a dynamic space that has become a favourite destination for food, coffee and conversation for many people on campus. Volunteer placements offer students a unique learning opportunity. Their volunteers gain invaluable experience in everything from bread-making to inventory management to accounting. As a non-profit and volunteer-run business, their profitable endeavors, like the 2 locations, CSA, and bulk buying program, support their educational and outreach programs, like their for-donation hot lunch on Fridays and community-campus workshops.

How do they do it all? They have a volunteer Board of Directors of about 25 people. These people manage 100 other shift volunteers and make most of the decisions by majority vote in their weekly meetings. There are various elected officers with specific job duties and an elected president to facilitate organization. Board members have office hours to ensure that there is someone always on location. Each board member can also facilitate a committee or extra shifts, in which volunteers can join.

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