By Jackie Variano, Slow Food member and Special Contributor
This article is part of a series highlighting our sponsors’ contributions to the community.
Enter the Organically Grown Company, which was started in 1982 as a growers’ cooperative to mitigate competition between struggling organic farmers.
“Bringing organic produce to the people” has become their unofficial slogan, according to Tonya Hayworth of OGC.
“We are not your typical produce distributor-wholesaler,” says Hayworth.
“We are actively involved in environmental and agricultural politics and walk the talk of sustainability. OGC works to not only be a player in the discussion about the big issues. We are committed to pushing ourselves to always do more, be more, expect more-in terms of our values, the values of our growers and customers.”
They source 35 percent of their products directly from PNW farms, and contribute to Slow Food’s goal of good, clean, and fair in a number of ways.
“Organically Grown and Slow Food are very much aligned through the basic fundamentals of our business structures. OGC is an employee and grower owned organization that prides itself on not taking the easy road with everything from grower relations to distribution,” says Hayworth.
They’ve partnered with B-Line delivery in Portland in order to still access smaller, centrally located customers through a cleaner transportation model.
In addition, they’ve made great strides to give back to communities.
“Since 2005, we have purchased our bananas exclusively from Organics Unlimited GROW program, resulting in almost $700,000 contributed back to the communities where the fruit is grown. We contribute at least 2.5% of our previous year’s profits to 501c-3 non-profit organizations that are also in alignment. Our efforts towards a more sustainable food system are continual,” says Hayworth.
How can you support OGC? Let us count the ways.
“Buying organic (& LADYBUG brand) produce is a wonderful direct way to support our business, but our involvement in the communities we serve and the organic trade expands well beyond that.”
“We host many events including our big, biennial Organicology conference, Organically Grown in Oregon Week and more that folks can be a part of. We are very active in political efforts to keep our food supply, farmland, water, seed, food safety and so many other issues and appreciate everyone that takes the time to write a congressman and vote on these topics.”
And no matter how big OGC’s world view is, they always honor their commitment to small and local.
“Our customer base has evolved at the same time we see many larger scale growers transitioning to organic growing practices. We see balance in that equation through staying strong to our roots; we still work with many very small scale growers and deliver to many of the same small Co-Ops and Independent Retailers that we did when the company was formed,” she says.
Be sure to find OGC through social media channels like Twitter and Facebook to be kept up with all events and news.