We're excited to introduce Comrade Co-op! Currently, the main emphasis of our work is hot food distribution and food waste mitigation. Comrade Co-op was born out of a desire to expand that work while building community and sharing skills. We are based in Denver, a city consistently rated one of the best places to live in the country. Best place for who though? High rises are being built on the rubble of gentrified city blocks and rents are ballooning, all while wages fail to keep up. Our unhoused neighbors are swept from one block to the next, month after month, in a never-ending cycle of inhumanity and abuse. Societies, and by extension governments, are formed to take care of one another. Because the City has so clearly failed us, we've been left with no other choice than to build the Denver that we want to live in.
As of right now, we spend 4-5 days a week delivering hot meals to residents living in the unhoused encampments in Denver. We're constantly accepting food, kitchen supplies, clothing, and hygiene donations. As the work grows, we have been able to get a better sense of what is needed in the camps and a better ability to provide those resources.
We've only just begun to grasp the immense amount of food being wasted in this city, and cannot help but wonder about the countless alternatives there are to our current food system. We deserve alternatives that don't involve excessive packaging, produce traveling from across the country, grown by underpaid farm workers, stocked by underpaid store workers. We deserve to receive food without supporting a massively wasteful grocery store or an over-priced farmers market. We plan to help tackle these problems with food and plants. Specifically, a food distribution vehicle and Denver's very first Gardener's Market!
The Gardener's Market is exactly what it sounds like. A market where gardeners from around the city can bring the produce that will inevitably be overflowing from their gardens. Anyone can come to the Gardener's Market to get produce at whatever price suits their income and needs. Folks can take produce at no cost to them, or donate what they wish for what they take. Any leftover produce will be used for meals for the unhoused, and any donations received will likewise go towards other ingredients used for those same meals. To ensure that people have the best success with their gardens, we will be providing seedling trays and seed packets to gardeners. Donations will be accepted for the seedling trays, but they will be provided for free so anyone who wants to garden has access to them! We will host workshops and provide educational literature throughout the season on all things gardening. It's not a coincidence that the food deserts in this city lie in the most diverse neighborhoods. The Gardener's Market will be held in North Denver, in the heart of a food desert north of City Park.The Gardener's Market is an anti-capitalist, community-centered opportunity to feed one another.
The second piece to our little puzzle is a food distribution vehicle. There are camps all around the city, and it can be difficult to get to all of them while only having the space of a regular vehicle. Plus, it's hard to get soup spills out of the fabric! A food distribution vehicle makes a lot of sense for us, especially as we look towards providing food for housed people in the future. There are so many ways we can help, and if that looks like delivering two heat-at-home meals to families that don't have time to cook, a food distribution vehicle would make that idea realistic. We also picture using it as a pay-what-you-will style food truck. Similar to the Gardener's Market, folks can come get meals for free, or pay what they think is appropriate. All donations from food truck meals would then go back into the fund!
Comrade Co-op is young, but we are passionate about feeding our neighbors and we definitely know how to dream. Thank you for being here with us, we can't wait to see what we are capable of when we all work together 🌱