Founding members of Suncoast Co-op want their business to grow.
Pasco County locals Eric Stewart, Barbara Sullo and Audrey Voss identify themselves as among the five founders of the co-op, which focuses on providing growers a venue for selling organically produced food.
They want to attract more growers and customers to the business.
“We want to reach more people,” Voss said.
The founders started the co-op in April 2012.
The founders “had a vision to provide healthy, nutritious, no-chemicals, no GMO (Geneticaly Modified Organism) foods to our community that they can afford,” said Sullo, who lives in New Port Richey.
Stewart, Sullo and Voss all grow plants at their homes, such as broccoli, lettuces, greens, tomatoes and cabbages. The co-op partners with Habitat for Humanity in New Port Richey which hosts some of its member seedbeds. Co-op products can also be picked up at the habitat headquarters,4131 Madison St.
The co-op includes more than 20 paid members and hundreds of patrons Members are also part owners of the co-op. You don’t have to be a member to make a purchase, but a 10 percent surcharge is tacked on to your order if you’re not a member. Stewart, of Holiday, said the co-op includes members in Pasco, Pinellas and Hillsborough counties.
Membership costs $25.
Plants, food and other products for sale are posted on the Suncoast Co-Op website, and people go to the website to make their orders. Stewart said the website as “basically an online farmer’s market.”
One of the missions of the co-op is “to kind of gather all these different people and encourage little home-scale growing businesses,” said Voss, of New Port Richey.
The co-op also holds educational sessions about growing.
Sullo, who has worked as a nurse and now teaches nursing, noted that the co-op fills a need for “low-cost, healthy food” in the area.
“People couldn’t afford organics in this area,” she said. “Now, we enable them to afford healthy movement.”
Voss said the area has a potential to lead the way in developing a green economy. It has a lot of unemployed people looking to work and small homes with land ripe for gardening.
Voss said founders “wanted to create the place we want to live in."
Want to learn more about the co-op? Visit its website and visit its members on pickup day every Saturday from noon to 2 p.m. at the Habitat for Humanity Restore in New Port Richey, 4131 Madison St.