Crown O’ Maine Organic Cooperative

CREATIVE FINANCING

CROWN O’MAINE

Marada and Leah Cook are sisters, entrepreneurs and the dynamic leaders of several food infrastructure businesses. In 1995 their father Jim created Crown O’ Maine Organic Cooperative (COMOC) as a distribution company serving Aroostook County farmers, and his daughters chose to continue the business after his death in 2008. Northern Girl is a spinoff company focused on vegetable processing, with facilities in Limestone & Van Buren.

The Cook sisters recently purchased Fiddler’s Green, a 20-year old mail order company, with an array of organic products from grains and hot cereal mixes to dried fruits and teas.

Since 2010, SMM’s network has provided significant connections for Marada and Leah to receive financial support from individual, Foundation and institutional investors, as well as technical assistance from varied mentors.

In the early stages of assuming full management of COMOC, with encouragement from a SMM participant, the Cooks received free business planning help from the Small Business Development Center. Kennebec Valley Council of Government served as an early SMM economic development partner and facilitated grant opportunities during the transitional period for COMOC. Another SMM participant chose to provide financial mentoring for the Cooks and went on to become not only an investor in Northern Girl but moved from Portland to Caribou to become the company’s manager. With the help of grant writers in the SMM network, Northern Girl received $300K from the Finance Authority of Maine in 2011 to cover equipment and startup costs. Additional SMM connections have helped the Cooks find loan guarantors and loans with Coastal Enterprises Inc., Fair Food Network, Rudolf Steiner Social Finance and the Coop Fund of New England to meet needs for inventory, lines of credit and working capital.

As these inspiring young women further expand, refine and enhance their businesses, Marada and Leah continue to live a family legacy reflecting not only pioneering entrepreneurship but a deep commitment to personally serving Maine growers, producers and consumers. Their caring and cooperative approaches will undoubtedly support their intentions to build community while meeting food distribution needs in Maine and the northeast region.

Photos c/o Crown O’ Maine

Crown O’ Maine Organic Cooperative

Contact Info:

960 Main St
Vassalboro, Maine 04989
Phone: (207) 877-7444
Web: www.crownofmainecoop.com

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.