Local Sprouts Cooperative started in June of 2007, although our roots extend back to the start of the People’s Free Space in Portland in 2002. Organizers with the People’s Free Space started Local Sprouts to build a sustainable local food cooperative. We incorporated as worker-owned cooperative in July of 2008 and have grown into a dynamic member of the local foods movement in Portland and Maine.
Local Sprouts Cooperative is based at our Cafe at 649 Congress St. in Portland. We have a large commercial kitchen, offices and our community cafe. In 2010, Local Sprouts with the help of close to 200 volunteers renovated the Cafe, which was a former University of Southern Maine Cafeteria.
Local Sprouts Cooperative focuses on cooking local food and connecting people through sharing food, mutual support, and knowledge and developing local self-reliance. We have six branches: Local Sprouts Cafe, Community Food and Learning Projects, Catering, Community Supported Kitchen, Local Foods Retail and Vending.
Local Sprouts Cafe: Local Sprouts Cafe opened in June of 2010 and is a place for people to enjoy delicious local food, get adrink, work on projects, access free wi-fi, purchase local food products and enjoy community programs and entertainment. Local Sprouts Cafe is also home to the Bomb Diggity Bakery, a baking and creative arts program for adults with intellectual disabilities. There is a strong learning component at the Cafe as people come into the kitchen to learn and share cooking. In the past year, Local Sprouts Cafe has become a home for local foods and community in Portland.
Community Food & Learning Projects: Local Sprouts connect people through providing local foods, organizing community meals, and creating learning opportunities. We work with schools and organizations to create local foods dinners, programs, and classes that teach cooking, entrepreneurship, geography, math, reading, and organizing in a holistic environment. Since 2008, we have taught local foods programs to over 500 people in the Portland area.
Catering: Our Catering provides delicious, creative, local and organic food for events, seasonal dinners, meetings, parties,
weddings, conferences, trainings, gatherings and more. Our Catering started in August 2007 and has continued to grow since that time serving over 100 non-profits, businesses, foundations, governments and individuals in the Portland area.
Community Supported Kitchen: Our Community Supported Kitchen (CSK) originally provided a weekly menu of locally grown seasonal meals, salads, soups, breads, sweets and more available to our members. Now, the CSK provides a membership structure for the Cafe and helps to provide affordable access to prepared local foods. The CSK started in July 2008 and grew from an initial 20 members to over 80 members in January 2011.
We are advocating for a strong local foods system and providing delicious cooked food to organizations and people through out Maine. We are also one of Portland’s first worker-owned cooperatives- as workers we own the business together and make decisions democratically that benefit our workers and our community.