Cooperatives in Our Community Today
Carolina Mountain Co-operatives
In July of 1934, Carolina Mountain Co-operatives began operation of a cannery in Cranberry, NC, Avery County, a way of helping out farmers during the Great Depression, when prices for crops were very low.
According to the August 16, 1934 Watauga Democrat “Various Kinds of Berries and Garden Sass Being Bought at Cranberry for Cash. Blackberry Prices are on Upgrade, and Huckleberries Bring 30 Cents. Turnip Greens Are Now Growing Under New Program.” “Prices being paid are advancing, especially as regards blackberries, which have been bought in huge quantities from pickers in Watauga County.”
Adapted from Ross Cooper, “A Look Back: TVA Cannery Is Running Full Blast,” Watauga Democrat, August 24, 2014.
Green Eagle Rural Community Transportation Co-op
What is now known as the AppalCART came from a transportation cooperative dating from the 1960s and 70s. Archie Pierce, then Director of WAMY Community Action in Watauga County, helped organize a bus to get people into town for shopping and appointments, when many didn’t have another form of transportation.
“Everybody knew, ‘Hey here comes Big Sam up and down the holler. It’s our day to go get our commodity foods, our day to go to the doctor, or something like that, because Big Sam is coming,'” Pierce said. “I don’t know where we come up with the name Big Sam, but that was somebody’s idea and we put it on the side of the bus.”
H.C. Moretz, executive director of WAMY at the time, reports that “[The Office of Economic Opportunity] finally gave us an additional $6,000 to start a rural transportation system, which wasn’t much, but it was a beginning,” Moretz said. “And that’s where Green Eagle Transportation Co-op began. We set that up as a co-op so that the people would own it.”
“I heard the stories of Green Eagle,” AppalCART Director Chris Turner said. “In fact, the bus they got to run the Green Eagle became part of the AppalCART fleet. It was an activity-style bus. Had a four speed manual transmission.”
Adapted from Makenzie Holland, “Green Eagle,” Watauga Democrat June 22, 2014.