Mission, Principles & Bylaws

Yes, we are a Co-op. Here's what that means, in a nutshell: We are hyper-local and hyper-democratic, with values based on equality, equity, and solidarity. We are owned by 13,000 households in the community. Every owner-member has equal share, and equal say, in how the Co-op is run.


Skagit Valley Food Co-op is a not-for-profit organization whose purpose is to provide good food at a low price.

As stated in the Co-op bylaws:

“The Co-op shall promote member welfare by utilizing their united effort for the purchase and distribution of commodities in accordance with the following criteria…”

  • Maintain the not-for-profit status of the Co-op
  • Offer high quality products that contribute to good nutrition
  • Support a low-impact, non-harmful approach to the environment
  • Support local suppliers and producers
  • A commitment to building a cooperative economy and supporting others who share that commitment
  • A commitment to educational programs relevant to members and non-members in the community


The Co-op’s Bylaws were most recently reviewed and updated in May 2009. Co-op owners have voted to approve the Bylaw Updates proposed by the Board, 62 votes for, 5 against. Copies of the updated Bylaws are available to view below:
View PDF of bylaws


“A community is the mental and spiritual condition of knowing that the place is shared, and that the people who share the place define and limit the possibilities of each other’s lives. It is the knowledge that people have of each other, their concern for each other, their trust in each other, the freedom with which they come and go among themselves.”Wendell Berry

The “place” that Wendell Berry writes of – whether it be tangible or not – is essential for community building. And, more often than not, community building revolves around, interacts with, and is dependent on, food. On the farm, in the garden, at the stove, ‘round the table, these are places where many of us feel most at home, and most ourselves. I trust that it’s not a stretch to include the Co-op (this one, yours) in this list. For 41 years, your Co-op has been connecting the people of the Skagit Valley and its environs to local farmers, producers, suppliers, and those who production methods match ours — with holistic living, mindful sustainability, ethics, and community in mind.

In order to better understand just what it means to be a member-owner of the Co-op, let’s dive in to the 7 Cooperative Principles. Cooperatives are member-owned businesses that operate for the benefit of their members, or owners (that’s you!). They come in consumer cooperatives (like us, REI, Skagit Farmers Supply), worker cooperatives (PCC, Rainbow Grocery), healthcare groups (23 nationwide), credit unions, and more. Cooperatives around the world generally operate according to the same seven core principles. The roots of these principles can be traced back to the first modern cooperative, which was founded in Rochdale, England, in 1844.

When a group of people want something that is not available in the marketplace, the cooperative principles provide framework to help them get it. Like a good number of natural food co-ops across the country, our founding member-owners were interested in organic, natural, and unprocessed foods that were not readily available in grocery stores. Through the efforts of the original pioneers of natural food co-ops across the country, we now have a thriving organic and natural foods industry that is providing a market for producers who want to use earth-friendly and sustainable farming methods. What makes a co-op unique is that is it owned by the membership. Regardless of how much equity a member contributes, each member has only one vote and equal say. Although a co-op needs to remain profitable to stay in business, it also exists to serve the community. Shopping here makes the business profitable, supports local farmers, and employs your neighbors. We thank you for your member-ownership, and support.

The 7 Cooperative Principles

The following is a list of the 7 Cooperative Principles that guide Cooperatives around the world in achieving and activating their values.

  1. Voluntary & Open Membership

    We’re open to everyone who wants to use our services and who is willing to accept membership responsibilities.

  2. Democratic Member Control

    We’re a democratic organization controlled by you, our members, through votes and elected representatives.

  3. Members’ Economic Participation

    Members contribute equally to and democratically control the capital of the Skagit Valley Food Co-op.

  4. Autonomy & Independence

    SVFC is an autonomous organization controlled by our members. We won’t be bought!

  5. Education, Training & Information

    SVFC provides education and training for its members, elected representatives, managers and employees, so they can contribute effectively to co-op development.

  6. Co-operation Among Co-operatives

    We serve our members most effectively and strengthen the cooperative movement by working together with other co-ops through regional, national, and international structures.

  7. Concern for Community

    While focusing on member needs, SVFC works for the sustainable development of our community.


Cooperative Education Column for Co-op Consumer News Nov/Dec 1996
Elizabeth Archerd, Member Services Director, Wedge Community Co-op
This article was used to further explain the seven principles. The entire article is quite lengthy, but provides a comprehensive explanation of cooperative history and development.