Our History

We’d like to give you a little background information on the Co-op; how and when it got started, and how you can make your term on the Board a rewarding and fulfilling experience.

The Co-op began as a grass root organization in 1970 with about a dozen families in the Kingston area participating. Its primary purpose was to provide high quality natural food to its members at affordable prices. In 1970, there were no natural food stores in Rhode Island and Co-op members took turns driving to the now defunct Erewhon Natural Food Distributors in Boston for their food. They loaded their cars or trucks with grains, beans, nuts and other foods that the members may have requested. The food was distributed on a weekly basis, usually at the home of the member doing the purchasing that week.

After a year, the Co-op expanded to the community, moving its working operation to the basement of St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church on Lower College Road in Kingston. A scale, paper and pencil and adding machine were the Co-op’s only store equipment. At this time the Co-op was operated for members only and all work was volunteer.  As URI faculty and student participation increased, the Co-op was able to acquire space in the basement of Roosevelt Hall at the University of Rhode Island. We fixed up our basement quarters there, expanding and growing, offering a wider selection of foods and other related items. We remained in Roosevelt Hall for over 20 years.

Our move (on Labor Day!) in 1994 to Kingstown Road in West Kingston was the next step in our evolution. We were still the original grass roots organization at our core, but we had grown into a larger natural foods market serving the whole community and offering ever-expanding variety of foods.

Our Current Location

We moved to the current location at 357 Main Street, Wakefield in January of 2000. With generous donations of labor and supplies, the storefront was rewired, the checkout counter built, the floor installed, storage shelving constructed and the store repainted. Member loans and gifts along with some bank financing made our move here, with all the improvements and equipment needed, possible. The final moving day  was an all volunteer effort. The back of the station wagon days were indeed over.

The Cooperative Belongs to Us

The Alternative Food Cooperative belongs to us. It is our Co-op. Each of us is responsible for a part of it. We can make of the Co-op what we want it to be. It can be as important and special as we make it. You, as an individual, can give your time and talents. Working together toward common goals, the Co-op becomes the best it can be; a special place to work, shop and socialize. We each have a stake in the outcome.

A Lot of Fun

Another benefit of becoming a member is an opportunity to meet other Co-op members and work with them in a congenial, relaxed atmosphere. It’s a lot of fun combining work and social interaction.


From time to time, the Co-op offers workshops on health-related topics led by knowledgeable community members. The dates of the workshops are posted on our bulletin board and in our newsletter. In the past, we have offered workshops on macrobiotic cooking, herbal therapies, Reiki, homeopathy, and exercise programs, just  to name a few. Please take advantage of all the Co-Op has to offer.