The transitions of the sixties in our culture reached far and wide, even into our farming and food access; putting many family farmers at risk and out of business. New farming methods began to threaten the quality of our foods and within the decade, food cooperatives began to spring up all around the country. People wanted whole, healthy foods and their business was modeled after the Rochdale Pioneers of England who in 1871 formed the first cooperative. These pioneers had similar beginnings based wanting access to foods not available. Many co-op’s worldwide base their on these same principles that are now practiced worldwide.
Caution- these next details are fuzzy… but what we do know is that in Buffalo, in 1971 (we think around March 17th) 17 people organized themselves to order food they wanted to eat and prepare for their families. Foods like whole wheat flour, rice, grains, beans, tofu and similar foods grown without pesticides and “organically”. Organic was not a certification process then, but instead a traditional form of farming. Eventually these members wanted to sell excess food to others in our community, opening a public store.
Co-op owners did all the work and many still tell the stories of cheese cutting nights at the co-op, unloading trucks when the farmers came around or even driving their own vehicles to pick up their food. For lots of fascinating stories told by founding owners and others, watch our 40th anniversary video “Locally Grown” to the right.
By the early 2000s we were bursting at the seams in our store on Lexington Ave (hence the name) were 2500 owners strong, and our owners wanted more space. We ran one of the most successful owner loan drives in national co-op history, an exciting sign of our community’s dedication to our little store, and in 2005 we opened a brand new co-op at 807 Elmwood Avenue.
Now we are now a community owned by over 10,000! We’re working daily to fulfill our BIG Direction, our plan for making the world a better place one head of lettuce at a time. Through all the years, our owners have continued to put their faith, trust, equity and patronage into Lexington.