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Vision is a Result of Experience

The COMOC Manifesto
(with apologies to Karl Marx)
The Community-ism Revolution
-Founder Jim Cook's vision for Crown O'Maine, written circa 2006.

Maine is a place it can happen. As we look around the world we can see that it definitely ain't happenin' in too many places. We are fortunate to live in a place of great natural resource and beauty with a population small enough and government “grassroots” enough that we can act with reasonable hope of accomplishment. In our case at hand, “IT” is a community inter-connected through a self-providing food system that results in strong and vibrant local agriculture.

Contrary to the belief that we must centralize, specialize and globalize to succeed, we see that, whatever else we need to do to survive in this world, we must be strong, sophisticated and savvy at home. This means locally produced food, shelter and fuel. To have a regionally secure food supply we must have a strong farming base and strong support at home. Your support at home is what we term “co-production” for without it, nothing happens.

Just as farmers might cozy up to the fire in January and order the inputs for spring planting, your production planning input happens when you can tell your farmers what you like and how much you would like to purchase. We call this “co-production” because you are valued partners in our vocation of raising crops for our livelihood.

As the distribution vehicle for many Maine farms (some of them also your more local farms) we are in a great place to interface information about the “big picture” and coordinate efforts for the next year's production. While it is our philosophy and policy not to compete or interfere with direct farm to customer sales, our job is to enhance each farm's ability to produce and serve wider markets both in State and New England.

Over the last ten years we have witnessed and taken part in the keen interest Maine residents have for their rural roots and maritime traditions. The farming and fishing sectors of our Maine economy, however, are struggling. They are struggling because the existing food distribution system is all about forcing farmers to commodity pricing and maximizing corporate profit.

As small farmers, distributors and neighbors we have a unique opportunity in Maine to do business “as un-usual”.

The most frequently expressed equivocations to buying local products are “I can’t find it” and “I can’t afford it”.

The unspoken excuse is, “it's just too much trouble.”

As we look around the Maine landscape we see the need to take the steps to improve access to local foods at affordable prices. The link COMOC is trying to forge is improved access to affordable local foods state wide.

Mainers have given enthusiastic reception to the field crops (see Products for complete list) we have been able to provide, including Maine grown and milled wheat flour. Coordinating production with overall demand is somewhat of a “chicken and egg” magic trick because we are not (merci a dieu) a large corporate entity with deep pockets. However, we have learned through hard won experience that by working together we can conceive and produce supply of both our traditional Maine crops and innovative “new crops” such as winter greens and specialty items for the restaurant trade.

Continuing to work together we expect to meet the demand for these products and enable production to go to the next dependable level. The net result of spending your money to purchase local products is a stronger and more independent local economy.

State-wide Delivery to Buying Clubs at Wholesale Prices.

How this works: Our retail partners do great job providing 7-day a week access to our products. To provide this service they need to be able to pay the help, the rent, the taxes, the insurance, etc., etc. Furthermore they have provided Maine’s small family farms with a viable return for their efforts.

The seeming price disparity, between locally produced, small farm raised organic products in comparison with the food giant’s commodity based produce and products, is easily dispelled. If we take into account the real cost of industrially produced commodity food including subsidies and hidden health and environmental costs, locally produce organic food can be seen for the genuine value that it is.

In order to provide people in all walks of life with broader access at a different price level an alternate type of service must be employed. This service we will call Farm Direct Delivery to Buying Clubs. Implicit in this mechanism is the desire to work in harmony with your local CSA’s to augment selection and extend seasons for each and every farm.

Order deadlines and delivery schedules will be posted.

Considerations: Experienced buying club members know that managing bulk purchases of perishable and semi-perishable items requires some forethought and preparation. If you are not equipped and prepared to receive perishable and semi-perishable foodstuffs, it is less expensive to entrust this responsibility to your neighborhood retailer than to manage the food supply yourself.

We have learned through experience that no one is better equipped or understands storage requirements better than the farmer. COMOC can facilitate the club members storing and using these items by ensuring a regular delivery schedule. At the outset, we envision delivering every two weeks to any given area. As we get progressively busier, we may be able to offer certain areas weekly deliveries. We hope this will allow club members to order on a more short-term basis and help minimize losses.

We started providing this service on Nov.1, 2006. If your CSA offers a winter share we urge you to advocate with them to source what items they do not produce through us.