These sustainable business co-ops, governed locally with the technical support of MFES staff, will work together to coordinate collaboration and investment in the following:
Infrastructure: The land, buildings and utilities will be shared through a lease agreement with either the Farm Trust or other entity that owns that land, or in cases where the local investors buy and/or donate land, with the resulting Trust.
Equipment: Vehicles, tools, office equipment, and other items that can be reasonably shared will be. Simple examples are tractors and trucks that are used occasionally by several partners. Costs will be apportioned based on hours used.
Central Services: Marketing and Design, Accounting, Payroll and Benefits, and Maintenance and Repair will all be shared on a “fee for service” basis and be operated by MFES staff. Some operations may be at each site, others at another MFES location to facilitate apprenticeships and reduce duplication.
Site-based enterprise links: Depending on the site, the community, and the enterprise mix, we expect each business to have built in markets/customers at each site: the farmer may sell milk to the artisanal cheese-maker, wool to the spinner, meat to the butcher. The green builder may design, build, and link to the grid structures for other enterprises, using timber cut and milled by the forester.
Apprenticeship/employment links: Each for-profit business will sign an agreement to provide specified apprenticeship and work opportunities to MFES students. MFES students will also serve as a flexible, seasonal work force for enterprises, with older students working in the fields, shops, offices, and farm summer camps during the summer.
Health and Liability Insurance: Our goal is for MFES employees and Enterprise partners to be part of the same insurance pool, ensuring that high quality coverage is provided to all adult workers and their children.