The Wedge Co-op has been a feature of its South Minneapolis neighborhood since it started in 1974 on Franklin Avenue, in the basement of an apartment building just up the hill from Lyndale Avenue. A group of neighbors met that summer to organize a cooperative store to provide themselves with whole and natural foods, preferably in bulk quantities to save money.
The co-op name comes from the popular nickname for the Lowry Hill East neighborhood, called "The Wedge" due to its shape. In fact, we have been in Whittier Neighborhood since we moved to the east side of Lyndale in 1979 - but no one seems to mind. It was a community effort from the start, and the founders were stunned at how quickly the store became successful.
From that humble start The Wedge grew to have over 15,000 members from all over the Metro Area and beyond. We continue to pioneer ways to bring delicious organic and sustainable food to our community. A local magazine once called The Wedge "the crowning achievement of a local co-op movement that, challenged by some of the nation's best mainline grocers, evolved beyond marginalia and dogma to real relevance." Here are some of the things we do in addition to running our successful co-op grocery store.
In 1994, the Wedge and Mississippi Market Co-op in St. Paul co-founded Midwest Food Connection, a program that presents lessons about food and farming to thousands of area school children.
In 1999 our wholesale distribution department, Co-op Partners Warehouse, grew out of a project that had begun to meet our own needs for access to organic produce. CPW is now a major distributor of perishable products to co-ops in six states, and works closely with local and regional producers to help get their products to market.
In 2002 the Wedge became the first Certified Organic Retailer in Minnesota. Co-op Partners Warehouse was Certified Organic at the same time. In 2009 our Deli passed its first Organic Certification inspection with flying colors, bringing all the retail departments under certification.
In 2007 the co-op leased land at Gardens of Eagan, one of the oldest local certified organic farms that served the Twin Cities area, and began operating the farm in 2008. We also started a not-for-profit Organic Field School, to offer education and other services to the organic farming community.
In 2012 the co-op bought land to transition to organic production, and will move Gardens of Eagan to that land in time for the 2013 growing season. Greenhouses on the new site are already producing certified organic starter plants.
While we teach school children, run a farm, deliver food all over the Midwest, work to protect organic integrity and teach organic farmers, we never lose our primary commitment to our membership. The foundation of all our work is and will always remain service to our community of members and the values they hold dear.