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New Central Illinois Farming Co-Op Gets Off To A Better-Than-Expected Start

FarmFed Co-op
Local builders and architects meet with the FarmFED co-op organizers on the proposed site of their new building in Mount Pulaski, about an hour and 15 minutes southeast of Peoria.

The newly formed Central Illinois FarmFED Co-op in Logan County met its $100,000 initial fundraising goal in just one month.

In fact, they've now raised more than $130,000 overall. That's good news for small farmers across the region looking for a place to package and process their products. But co-manager Jeff Hake says there's a tiny hang-up with small pledges stemming from their articles of incorporation.

"We're actually behind on our goal for Common B shares," Hake said. "So we actually are not done with our ownership campaign yet, because we still need 50 more pledges for Common B shares."

Common B shares are the least expensive shares available, at $100 a pop. More expensive shares sold more quickly to people across Central Illinois, as well as some buy-in from other states like California, Texas and the New England area.

Hake said he doesn't think the co-op will have a problem hitting its goal.

"We've moved fast enough that I think we can keep up that pace. We're just going to keep pushing," he said.

Hake said they're looking to have all shares sold by Oct. 1 to begin moving onto the next phase, but he's optimistic that might happen as soon as Sept. 15.

Hake says they already have a commitment to purchase a building in Mount Pulaski once they hit their fundraising goal. But Hake says the COVID-19 pandemic and construction material market disruptions may cause delays in getting up and running.

"We're trying to be realistic with ourselves that a lot of what we're trying to do will not happen in a useful timeframe for the 2022 season," Hake said. "But if we can even just get our commercial kitchen established next year, then we can start working with our community and making a difference."

Hake said the co-op will also begin looking for a permanent manager soon.

The new co-op will serve small-scale farmers over a wide swath of Central Illinois, stretching from Peoria to Springfield.

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