Lost River community co-op
The Orange County Cooperative Development Corporation is a member-owned association dedicated to serving the needs of local growers, producers, and consumers by providing goods, services, and healthy food choices at fair value. We promote community well-being, economic prosperity, and self-reliance through cooperation.
Debbie Turner: Management Team Leader, Volunteer
Kara Schmidt: Management Team, Store Operations & Buyer
Pete Johnson: Produce Manager
Jenn Stanley: Produce Manager
Gabriel Plimpton: Bulk Manager
Jeanette Shultz: Front End Manager
Brandon Query: Marketing & Media
Larry Owen: Staff
Terry Weaver: Customer Service Volunteer Extraordinaire
Corin Gnilka: Deli Manager
Janabai Raymundo: Deli Staff
Gabriel Plimpton: Deli Staff
Brandon Query: Deli Staff
Kristen Flowers: Deli Staff
Matt Kimmell: Deli Staff
Linda Barnett: Baker
Brad Pickens, Chairman
Delilah McAdams, Vice Chairman
Ted Larrison, Treasurer
Bob Turner, Secretary
History of Lost River Community Co-op
The national push to develop food cooperatives in rural areas captured the attention of the board of directors of Orange County Homegrown, a community development organization with experience in developing local farmers markets within the county. The farmers market success developed the need and support for local produce and a platform for continuing the discussion about the importance of healthful eating in a poorly nourished county. The focus on local products and their health benefits provided a catalyst for creating the food co-op.
A meeting in 2006 to discuss a possible food co-op drew over 60 people who helped form Orange County Cooperative Development Corporation and resulted in an initial goal of opening a retail food co-op. The Co-op intended to provide local residents access to foods seldom found in Orange County, such as organic, free trade and bulk items.
Early organizers believed strongly in a cooperative approach to community development. Cooperatives are based on the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity. In the tradition of their founders, cooperative members believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility, and caring for others.” It is upon these values that Orange County Cooperative Development Corporation, doing business as Lost River Community Co-op, launched a new level of self-sustaining economic development projects in the area, beginning with a retail food store open to the public while offering member benefits.
Development efforts were aided by many Co-op supporters and consultants such as Indiana Cooperative Development Corporation, Bloomingfoods, Food Coop 500 and Cooperative Development Corporation consultants. Financial support came from Hoosier Hills Credit Union, Northcountry Cooperative Development Fund, the Town of Paoli and French Lick Revolving Loan Fund. The most significant amount of financial support comes from members in the form of member loans, contributions and continuous shopping support.
The store opens!
Lost River Market and Deli opened in October 2007 after two years of development and planning. It is located in a renovated building just ½ block from the Paoli downtown square. The building was originally built in 1949 as a neighborhood grocery store.
Organizers felt it was important to locate the store downtown and become a participating member in the Paoli downtown community.
“[Lost River Market and Deli] has the potential to single-handedly be Paoli's anchor tenant. Every town needs an anchor tenant or two, just like any retail mall. Promote your anchor businesses, specifically and everyone else will benefit by association.”
Destination Development International, 2008
Tourism audit conducted for Orange County Convention and Visitors Bureau
The store opened with 344 member-owners with membership growing over 1000 members today. Members come from a large geographic area including Lawrence, Orange, Martin, Washington, Harrison and Dubois Counties with additional supporters from outside the area and state.