Pam Seida browses the aisle at Mariposa Food Co-op in West Philadelphia, looking for tempeh bacon, which she insists is “yummy.”
The space is cramped, but Seida, 44, has shopped here for a decade, since moving from Rosemont. And yes, she is delighted that a new building is under construction just one block away.
The $2.6 million structure, to open in January, will be five times bigger, with vertical farming, bee hives, and a demonstration kitchen on the roof; dry-goods storage and cisterns for harvesting rainwater in the basement; a cafe and a classroom on the mezzanine; and, on the ground floor, aisles and aisles of locally grown produce, dairy, beef, and Seida’s favorite, tempeh bacon.
Even as the economy bleeds jobs, the number of member-owned food co-ops is doubling – in this region and across the country.
Four established co-ops, Swarthmore (started in 1937, making it the oldest), Weavers Way in Mount Airy and Chestnut Hill, Mariposa, and Selene, in Media, are guiding the growth of Chester’s Community Co-op, which opened in March, and four more planned co-ops, in Doylestown, Elkins Park, Kensington, and South Philadelphia.