P.O. Box 582
Hopkins Park, IL 60944
In 1999, a group of farmers created the Pembroke Farmers Cooperative with support from the Illinois Cooperative Extension Service, USDA, and other entities. It is the only organization of this kind in the whole Kankakee County. Pembrokes consists of around 30 farmers who produce specialty crops as well as free-raised poultry and other products. Most of the members are African-American, all of them follow chemical-free agricultural methods. Some facilities are certified organic.
Pembroke Township is located 60 miles south of Chicago, close to the Indiana border. Historically, this region has been economically depressed and it continues to fight with unemployment and weak education. Pembroke farmers often have a hard time with bad roads, water scarcity, limited agriculture and marketing skills. But thanks to the Cooperative, these small farms can now join resources and overcome the hurdles together.
The Kankakee County USDA-Farm Service Agency (FSA) has been particularly supportive in the early days of the Coop. Local FSA Director Merrill Marxman helped the group to acquire major funding and assisted with locating a processor, designing a label, and logistics.
Basu is the Cooperative’s president. He believes that local agriculture contributes to the healthy community and a strong economy. The Iyabo is one of Pembroke’s founder-families, still takes care of it’s development and prosperity.
Today, the Pembroke Farmers Cooperative supplies its products to farmers’ markets, healthy food retails, and restaurants.