Track Descriptions for 2022 Up & Coming

This year’s Up and Coming workshop tracks are based around the four cornerstones of the four-in-three development model for startup food co-ops which represent the resources needed to organize and open our food co-ops. We’re going to explore each cornerstone to new levels, coming at each cornerstone from many different angles with content to meet the needs of and inspire every food co-op organizer, no matter which stage your co-op is in!

Like always, every Up and Coming 2022 track will offer expert presentations, active learning workshops, and case studies from your peers. What NEW this year is that we’ll have one session in every track, each day of the conference, where you’ll come together with your peers to get around a table and share experiences and learn from one another – something you’ve long been asking for at Up and Coming, more time to connect with and learn from peer conversations! We hope this new addition will take your Up and Coming experience to the next level.

Here’s a little bit about what you can expect from each of this year’s learning tracks.


The Vision cornerstone is the beating heart of your co-op in every stage of development. But how do we share that vision in a way that builds excitement about and investment in our co-op by our greater community and how do we utilize it to keep our co-ops thriving? In the Vision track, we will offer presentations and workshops that explore why we need food co-ops, how to communicate their value to our communities, and how our owners and community members help frame the vision of what our co-ops will become.


Without the people, there is no co-op. The Talent cornerstone is all about bringing together the right people with the right skills to build your co-op so it can grow and serve its community. From the board to the General Manager; from the on-the-ground volunteers to the general contractor that will build your store – all kinds of Talent are needed, and we have to know how and when to bring them into our project, as well as how to keep developing our own skills to be the organizers our co-ops need. In the Talent track we’ll explore together all of this and more!

Systems & Operations

How are you going to keep track of all that owner data? And how will our in-store department offerings get decided, before or after the store design? Oh, and who is going to keep track of all of this, do we need a project manager?! At every stage of your co-op’s development strong systems are critical and we’ll be diving into the tough question of how to build and track everything going on, as well as a new level of detail of how operational store decisions are made when we get to that stage and the fast-moving trends in food co-ops across the nation that we need to be aware of to build strong stores.


In the last few years there have been many exciting advances in how food co-ops are raising capital. From record-breaking multi-million dollar owner campaigns, to federal and state grants and mission-related donations. Our presenters will help you understand and navigate these opportunities and plan for the implications of different capital sources on your future cash flow.

Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI)

Is your co-op a truly open and welcoming organization to everyone in your community? As cooperatives, we often see ourselves as leaders in inclusiveness, yet we are just beginning to understand the full range of ways in which we often inadvertently create barriers to full engagement. How we address race, sexual/gender identity, disability, and economic access can be just some of the factors that can make our co-ops unwelcoming to the very people we want to be in solidarity with. Come explore your assumptions, listen to people with different life experiences and make JEDI a core value in your co-op.

The Big Picture

Our food co-ops live and breathe inside of a much bigger food co-op movement, which is just one piece of the cooperative movement, which is impacted by the larger economic and social trends of our world. Where do food co-ops fit within the larger movement? Why is cooperation so powerful and how can we work to forward the overall movement? What are some of the important possibilities being explored for new ways startup food co-ops can unfold to serve communities that don’t fit the old molds of what we once thought was the “ideal” type of community to suit a food co-op? How can co-ops continue to be leaders in community food access in this increasingly impersonal marketplace? Let’s talk!