Growing out of a rural farmers market and the desire to build local supply chains, MANNA Food Co-op is a grassroots success story. A dedicated band of foodies and farmers worked two years to open Minnesota’s newest retail food co-op—the first one in Detroit Lakes in the Northern part of the state. After opening their doors in August 2017, the organization has grown its membership to 700 and creatively taken on initiative after initiative to feature and educate the community about local foods. The co-op has sponsored farm tours, hosted cooking classes, built a collaborative farm stand on-site to support its local farm vendors, and launched the nation’s first meal kits which feature traditional Native foods from local Native cooks—Detroit Lakes is the gateway community to White Earth Nation, Minnesota’s largest Anishinaabe band.
Reason for Investment
MANNA is relocating from its current location in an old Tastee Freez drive thru on the Northside of Detroit Lakes to a much more visible location downtown. The current location was a good place to start, but after two and a half years of successful operations, the organization is ready to take a big step to both reach profitability and improve the shopping experience. Ryan Pesch, a certified organic vegetable farmer and a founding board member, explains, “The new space will allow us a bigger and better space, but, even more importantly, the move and visibility will help us meet our mission of supporting local farm operators, healthy foods, and wellness in our community.”
The co-op has built a supply chain with over 40 local producers within 60 miles of Detroit Lakes and would like to become an ever greater outlet for its suppliers. Competing with much larger retail establishments is tough for a store with just 1,200 square feet of retail floor space. After making it this far, however, the many engaged supporters, board members, and staff are confident that the co-op’s move will be fruitful for the store and add to the vitality of downtown Detroit Lakes.