Our Harvest Awarded 2017 LFPP Grant from USDA, Adds new UC Weekly Harvest Box Site

Our Harvest found out that they are recipients of a 2017 Local Food Promotion Program grant from the USDA (application submitted by Green Umbrella; Our Harvest and Ohio Valley Food Connection are subawardees):

"The Green Umbrella Regional Greenspace Alliance will bring together two food hubs in the region to increase producer sales, increase the number of Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certified or “Produce Rule” compliant farms and food hubs, and increase the consumption and access to locally-produced agricultural products by institutions and households. Specifically, it is intended to increase farm sales that market through local food hubs to $1.4 million; to provide farm safety planning to over 30 producers and 2 food hubs; and to increase consumption of local agricultural products to over 1,200 household and wholesale clients by the end of the project. To fulfill these outcomes, project staff will develop new institutional market opportunities by developing relationships with new large institutional clients, creating a customized crop plan for each institutional client, managing ongoing ordering and distribution for institutional clients, and measuring the scale and impact of sales. Additionally, effort will be made to improve the market opportunities for partner farms and food hubs by helping producers and the food hubs meet new federal food safety guidelines as well as building warehousing and transportation capacity to manage increased volumes" (source: https://www.ams.usda.gov/sites/default/files/media/2017LFPPDescriptionOfFundedProjects.pdf)

Additionally, Our Harvest opened up a new Weekly Harvest Box pick-up on the University of Cincinnati Medical Campus, reached out to their communities and customers about becoming Community-Owners, and spread the work about their programs at several events:

  • PEDCO High Performance Building Seminar about local farm-to-work opportunities
  • Interact for Health’s Thriving Communities about Harvest Day
  • Cincinnati State’s Horticulture Occupations class about careers in urban and sustainable farming
  • First Ladies’ Family Health Day event at Allen Temple
  • Fall quarterly meeting of the Ohio and West Virginia Statewide Food Hub Network 


... What's up next?

Co-op U

CUCI’s mission is to create a collaborative network of worker-owned businesses that sustain families and build communities. In order to achieve this mission, CUCI has been doing new co-op development and education from its inception, however, never in a scalable format. Over the years, we have spent countless hours mentoring individual co-op entrepreneurs and developing our educational resources. Since 2011, we have had over 500 individuals reach out to us, inquiring how to launch worker cooperatives. Currently, we have 20 groups that are on a waiting list for our assistance in co-op development. We regularly receive visitors from around the country wanting to replicate the model.  We do not have the capacity to work with each of the groups individually yet we know the collective financial impact these co-ops could offer their communities.

In 2015, CUCI completed a strategic planning process that included the creation of an education arm, called the Co-op U, in order to increase CUCI’s impact by more efficiently meeting the demand for union co-op education. By creating an education arm, groups will be able to attend a 12-week course 2-3 times per year.  We will help more potential co-ops go through the feasibility, business planning, and accessing capital phases, getting more worker-owned businesses off the ground in Cincinnati. Additionally, Co-op U will help us better meet the demand from around the country by providing programming such as multi-day boot-camps, seminars, retreats etc. to teach groups from other cities the best practices regarding cooperative business development.

Excitingly, the Greater Cincinnati Foundation has provided significant support to bring Isabel Uribe, a renowned Mondragon cooperative development specialist, to Cincinnati to help us launch CUCI’s Co-op U training institute that will address this backlog in Q1 of 2018.


We are also looking to scale up our ability to save family sustaining jobs by converting existing businesses to co-ops. Did you know that in the manufacturing sector alone there are more than 700 companies in Cincinnati with owners ready to retire? Historically 80% of these companies will close their doors. Think of these jobs, these families. Our co-op model can save these jobs, and sustain these families by helping the owners sell the companies to the employees. We’re working with 2 of these companies right now.


Read more about this work at: https://www.cincinnatiunioncoop.org/succession-planning/

CUCI and GDUCI Hosted First Succession Planning Workshops.

In late May, CUCI and GDUCI hosted workshops in Cincinnati and Dayton on succession planning for retiring small business owners, with a focus on engaging manufacturing businesses.  Chris Cooper from the Ohio Employee Ownership Center led these workshops, which were also co-sponsored by Ohio Means Jobs, the Ohio Small Business Development Centers, Montgomery County, and the law firm of Pickrel, Schaeffer, and Ebeling.  Attendees included small business owners, service providers such as CPAs and financial planners, and representatives of county economic development agencies. Participants got an overview of the process of planning for retirement as an owner of a small business, as well as concrete tips on tax incentives, timelinesand options. Conversion to worker-ownership, and specifically cooperatives and ESOPs, were discussed in detail.

GDUCI ED Wins Prestigious Ecohing Green Fellowship

GDUCI is proud to announce that Executive Director Lela Klein has been selected as a 2017 Echoing Green Fellow! Echoing Green provides unrestricted seed-stage funding and strategic foundational support to emerging leaders working to bring about positive social change. Past Echoing Green Fellows include the founders of City Year and Public Allies as well a First Lady of the United States. In May, GDUCI elected five new Board members. In June, it held its first Board mini-retreat to engage in annual and longer term planning.  GDUCI's Gem City Market continues its share drive, with over 400 shares sold in the first six weeks of sales.