The Androscoggin Food Co-op is on a mission to create a community owned cooperative market with accessible, healthy food options for all in the Androscoggin Valley.
We are the Androscoggin Food Co-op. We’re a group of your friends and neighbors, folks living in and visiting the Androscoggin Valley area, who have come together to create a community-owned grocery store. It takes a lot of time, work, and people from the community to start a food co-op, but we’re well on our way!
We’ve been working with other successful co-ops in New England and nationally to take the steps to do it right. Our first task was determining whether a food co-op could be successful in our area, and after 2 positive preliminary studies by national experts, we know it can!
With the participation of local member-owners – people just like you – the Androscoggin Food Co-op will open a beautiful, community-owned grocery store in the Androscoggin Valley region.
To invest locally by expanding food options, strengthening our economy, and building a cooperative community.
To create a vibrant, community owned cooperative market that will provide quality, healthy, and affordable food options for everyone in the Androscoggin Valley, while providing fair wages for employees and income for local farmers.
The idea for a food co-op in the Androscoggin Valley has been kicking around for many years now. The idea was born out of a few of your neighbors talking about the lack of available food choices locally and the difficulty in attracting a franchised market to the area. The more we talked, the more we liked the thought of being members of a cooperatively owned store that would employ local residents, purchase foods from local farmers and local producers, and give us a say in what products could be offered. The idea soon became a very exciting and attractive prospect. Several community conversations and an initial feasibility study showed there were enough interest and dollars to support a co-op in the area.
In late 2017 a steering committee was formed to see once and for all how far we could take the idea. After months of careful study, attending trainings and workshops, and learning from the top Food Co-op associations in the country, we see clearly what a cooperatively-owned grocery store would mean for our area and what needs to be done to establish a successful store.
We incorporated in late 2018, and began an open membership drive in December, 2019. Now we just need you and other potential member-owners to join us in turning a well-planned idea into a reality.
2020 – 2021 proved to be a challenging time to safely be out in the community and gather together. We did our best to connect with current and prospective AFC member-owners online and at the local Gorham Farmers Market. Our “For the Love of…” membership drive in early 2021 provided a positive boost for all as well!
2022 was a slow year for our membership growth, a common theme for developing co-ops around the country. Inflation and other societal issues seemed to be on people’s minds more than building a future for their communities. However, in July, the pace picked up and continued into 2023.
In January, 2023, we welcomed 9 new Members to the Co-op. The first of those 9 Members brought our total membership to 300! That’s halfway to 600 — and 600 members is when we can start putting together a site search committee.
We know you’re all as excited as we are for the real-life, brick-and-mortar location of all our dreams, but we need your help to get us there.When you become a Member-owner, you invest in a future that connects you and your neighbors to socially conscious, healthy, locally and regionally sourced, quality food.
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