Our Story

We started as a seed…


In 1932, two years into what would soon be known as the Great Depression, a few women in the Swarthmore community were determined to find a solution to the lack of quality and fresh produce. Gathered in houses of local Swarthmoreans, wives of Swarthmore College professors planted the beginnings of a produce-buying club. The buying-club gave Swarthmore families access to fresh produce at an affordable price, while supporting the local farmers and boosting the Swarthmore economy. News of the buying club grew rapidly and by 1937, the roots of the third oldest food cooperative in the nation were settled.


After some necessary pruning over the years, the Co-op prospered in the late 80’s. It was clear a new location was no longer a desire, but a necessity. Our finances, however, presented a serious barrier. Planning for a new plot began in 2002. With the help from our founding members, we were able to recruit 720 new members and raise over $640,000 in member loans, just enough to transplant the Co-op’s storefront. Two years later, on October 14, 2004, the new Co-op opened its doors.


Now more than a seed…


We have ripened into the richness that is the Swarthmore Co-op today. The Co-op offers its members and shoppers the fruits of their consistent care, including a full service butcher and seafood counter, a delicatessen with prepared foods by our Chef, extended produce and grocery departments, and a variety of local cheeses and specialty products. Just like our founding members, we are committed to providing the Swarthmore community with fresh and quality products at an affordable price, while supporting the local economy.


The Swarthmore Co-op has survived truly due to its members’ patience and commitment to buying local. As our community of members and farmers expand, we continue to grow into a vibrant and sturdy addition to the Swarthmore community. Together, through our commitment to local, our strong roots can revive the future of the global food system.


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