In the beginning
It was 1977. A few gardeners, small-scale farmers, hippies, environmental activists and dreamers living near Eugene, Ore., started getting together to talk about a shared belief: that organic agriculture was a key to nourishing healthy people and sustaining a healthy planet.
By January 1978, they had chosen a name – Organically Grown Cooperative. It would be a way for the hippies and dreamers and organic farmers to share information, educate each other and buy supplies. They set about incorporating as a nonprofit.
By 1980, some of the members wanted the coop to coordinate which crops each farm would grow and then market and distribute them as a unified group. They’d be able to better supply what was a still a limited market and stop competing with each other. Disagreements were common, and sometimes heated, as the coop grew into this new marketing role.
The first employee
In 1983 the coop opened a loading dock in Eugene. It hired its first employee, at $4.50 per hour, to sell and deliver produce. The coop had six member farms.
Sales the first year amounted to about $12,000. Over the next decade, sales grew an average of 40 percent per year. The company opened a facility in Portland in 1994, in Seattle in 2001, and in 2012, a new 119,000-square-foot facility in Portland.
Along the way, OGC became an S-class corporation, in 1999, and in 2008 an employee stock ownership program (ESOP) took effect. Today, the company is owned by its member growers and its employees. In 2016, they moved in to a larger Seattle facility and opened a dock in Spokane, WA to help serve Montana customers and beyond.