Community-owned food cooperative moves forward with building plans

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At the Wild Onion Market, a sense of community that goes beyond neighborhood boundaries should lead the way, President Jillian Jason said, as the co-op moves forward with building plans.

While the location of the co-op cannot be announced yet, Jason said it will be in one of three areas the co-op has assured owners it will be based: in the West Ridge or Rogers neighborhoods. Park in Chicago. , or south of Evanston.

The specific site was identified a few weeks ago and Jason said the co-op will sign the lease shortly. The next step is a capital fundraising campaign that is expected to raise over $ 1 million to help make the co-op open and sustainable for years to come.

“We want to do it right and be successful,” said Jason. “The pressure to open our doors is there, but it’s about doing it right. People have been involved in this project for a long time and have dedicated hundreds of thousands of hours to the business.

Currently, the Wild Onion Market has 1,060 owners. Each owner buys 2.5 shares equal to $ 250, Jason said. The organization chart of the company is like an inverted pyramid: although there is a board of directors that Jason sits on, she said it is the owners who are leading the way and will help Wild Onion Market open its doors. doors.

“One of our biggest areas of ownership is local businesses,” Jason said. “Independent companies from Evanston have joined the co-op, so we will have a resource and customer sharing center. “

The cooperative’s goal, Jason said, is to create “real access” to organic and local produce that is in the middle price range for buyers. Instead of making stops at multiple businesses in Evanston for items like your favorite handmade soap, a local butcher, or freshly made scones, everything will be in one place at the Wild Onion Market, showcasing Evanstonians small businesses at a price. affordable.

“It won’t just be organic items, but real access to the products people want in the neighborhood,” Jason said. “We are sensitive to price barriers for people. Specialty stores can be expensive, and we know that perception doesn’t always match reality. Building a store that has access to sustainable and organic food is very important to us. “

Wild Onion Market is also working with Citizens’ Greener Evanston to develop the co-op sustainability factor in things like composting programs, take-out and reloading programs.

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