About Manzanita Cooperative

Manzanita Cooperative is driving a fundamental shift in how Californians produce and consume food. For more than 150 years, agriculture in California has meant adapting the landscape to grow non-native crops that require summer irrigation. The damage to our wild rivers, wetlands, and groundwater from this approach has been catastrophic. 

A map of California's river systems

We are taking the opposite approach and finding ways to produce food at scale, while working with the natural environment.

Beyond impacts on water, agriculture is responsible for more than a third of climate change causing emissions globally, but innovation to address this has drawn a fraction of the money thrown at electric cars and other shinier solutions.

Our approach not only eliminates emissions, it has the potential to be carbon negative as we rebuild soil and replace farms with cultivated wilderness across northern California.

Invest in Sustainability

Native foods aren’t just good for humans and the environment, they’re good business. While the majority of Manzanita Cooperative’s shares are owned by our worker-owners and community stakeholders, we are authorized to sell a minority stake to investors to raise funds. To fully fund our first harvest, we need to raise $300,000 through crowdfunding and direct investment.

The work we are doing to produce nutritious climate-adapted foods while cutting carbon emissions and preserving habitat is essential. Bringing living wage jobs to North Coast communities that have long been neglected is just as important to people living here.

Like any new business though, it takes money to get off the ground and so we are seeking Angel investors who share our vision to support our launch.  We expect to provide very strong ROI and a full investor kit – including financial projections and terms – is available on request. Please contact invest@manzanita.coop

Chart of projected dividends per share through 2030

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A precarious Status Quo

Commercial agriculture is dangerously centralized. There are around 30,000 known edible plant species, adapted to every biome that supports human life, and yet only 170 are grown commercially. Of these,  30 provide over 95% of human nutrition. 3 (wheat, rice, corn) make up the absolute majority of calories consumed by humans, and 1 (soybean) is 3/4 of the plant based protein for humans and livestock globally.  Putting all our eggs in so few baskets creates real risk, and crop failures are already increasing as the climate changes. Just in the US, USDA crop failure insurance payouts have increased by 15% a year or more for three years running. It’s no wonder that groups from the UN to the World Economic Forum are now urging industry to diversify food supplies and find new crops.

Manzanita Cooperative is answering that call by bringing the native foods of California and the West back to the mainstream. In addition to our work with existing native superfoods like Acorn and Bay Nut, we are the only company in North America doing the hard work of domesticating new crops. Our cutting edge breeding process allows us to do so in a fraction of the time that domestication used to take – all without using genetic engineering.

A different approach to business

Chart of projected restoration efforts through 2030

Traditional Corporations are required by law to put profit margins for their shareholders first. As a worker-owned company, Manzanita puts people and our environment first.

In partnership with tribes, local governments, and community investors; we are developing a biodiverse approach to sustainable organic polyculture that can produce healthy and delicious food at scale with little or no summer irrigation. By doing so, we can restore habitat for native pollinators and other species and provide real food security in a changing climate.

In the short term, we are working with landowners across the North Coast and North Bay to sustainably harvest Oak and Bay Laurel trees that have gone unharvested for generations, while being sure to leave enough behind for wildlife. Active monitoring of our impact on local biodiversity ensures there are no unpleasant surprises down the road. Modern processing techniques allow us to make traditional foods like Acorn flour available at affordable prices and at scale for the first time since colonization.

Over the long term, we want to do more than just harvest wild forests, we want to purchase former forests that have been cut down or burned and restore them as cultivated wilderness. Instead of monoculture farms that kill pollinators, destroy rivers, and deplete aquifers; we will plant carefully tended polyculture forest-orchards that combine multiple species to produce food while providing habitat.

So what does that look like?

Planting trees like Oak and Bay Laurel in fields alongside other crops stabilizes soil against erosion, meaningfully reduces carbon emissions and draws water up from deep underground. They also provide delicious, healthy, and abundant nuts. Native legumes, domesticated through a partnership with the National Science Foundation, provide a nitrogen-fixing cover crop that enriches soil and produce plant based protein.  Native currants, hazelnuts, and manzanita berries provide additional high quality foods, while hedgerows grown with dense flowering natives like lilac and wild rose provide plentiful forage for pollinators – and provide a barrier against the spread of pollen from domesticated varieties to their wild cousins elsewhere. Regular controlled burns, conducted in partnership with indigenous experts, return nutrients to the soil, prevent the spread of disease, and protect our working forests against destructive wildfires. With a variety of crops grown together, fluctuations in weather may hinder one crop while helping another; but there will always be a harvest.