Full Circle Organic Growers Cooperative Records, 1986-2011

Summary Information
Title: Full Circle Organic Growers Cooperative Records
Inclusive Dates: 1986-2011

  • Full Circle Organic Growers Cooperative
Call Number: Mss 1208

Quantity: 0.8 cubic feet (2 archives boxes)

Archival Locations:
Wisconsin Historical Society (Map)

Records, 1986-2011, of Full Circle Organic Growers Cooperative, a cooperative of organic farmers from Minnesota and Wisconsin that was based in Lake City, Minnesota, documenting an organic producer cooperative in its years of active operation. Included are administrative records, newsletters, correspondence, and sales records (2003-2004). Also included are sales records (2008-2011) for Earthen Path Organic Farm, operated by Steven Schwen.


Forms part of the Organic and Sustainable Agriculture Collection.

Language: English

URL to cite for this finding aid: http://digital.library.wisc.edu/1711.dl/wiarchives.uw-whs-mss01208
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In January 1985, a small group of organic growers met and began forming a cooperative over the next few years. Full Circle Organic Growers Cooperative was based at Oak Center General Store, which was operated by Nan Hiers and Steven Schwen, in Lake City, Minnesota. Members joined as either working or participating members (with different levels of responsibility and voting privileges), shared information and expertise with one another and the community, and participated in joint marketing and purchasing.

Schwen also served on the Board of Directors of the Organic Growers and Buyers Association (OGBA), which offered an organic certification service. In 1990, largely due to the cost of organic certification, Full Circle members decided to form a Minnesota chapter of Organic Crop Improvement Association (OCIA), which had its own organic certification program. The Minnesota chapter of OCIA was established and met as an official chapter in November 1994.

Full Circle grew from its original few members to around twenty-five, and supplied produce primarily to food cooperatives and a natural foods café. In 2007, Full Circle growers in Wisconsin formed another cooperative known as Wisconsin Growers. Full Circle Organic Growers Cooperative continues as an informal entity, but sales records after that point use individual farm names.

Scope and Content Note

The Full Circle Organic Growers Cooperative records are arranged in three series: ADMINISTRATIVE, CORRESPONDENCE, and FINANCIAL. While not comprehensive, the Full Circle records document a small producer cooperative over its years of operation. The by-laws, brochures, and newsletters provide the best narrative in the records about the cooperative, and the apprenticeship program and poultry collaborative are well represented. Over half of the collection consists of sales records, organized by year, of which 2003-2004 are under the Full Circle name. The sales records from 2008 to 2011 are for Earthen Path, the organic farm operated by Steven Schwen. Also of note is a folder of correspondence with state legislators regarding a proposed radioactive waste storage facility near the Prairie Island nuclear plant.

Related Material

Organic and Sustainable Agriculture Publications (M2018-024)

Administrative/Restriction Information
Acquisition Information

Presented by Steven Schwen, February 23, 2017. Accession Number: M2018-022

Processing Information

Processed by Julia Wong, March 2018.

Contents List
Mss 1208
Series: Administrative
Box   1
Folder   1
By-laws, cooperative policy, 1986, circa 1987
Box   1
Folder   2
Brochures, produce list, 2001, undated
Box   1
Folder   3
Community supported agriculture (CSA) information, 1994-1995, undated
Box   1
Folder   4
Full Circular: newsletter, 1987-1993
Note: Also food co-op newsletter with article on Full Circle.
Box   1
Folder   5
Funding sources, 1993, undated
Box   1
Folder   6
Mailing lists, 1992-1993, undated
Box   1
Folder   7
Applications, growers list, 2001-2002
Box   1
Folder   8
Contracts, 1992 February
Box   1
Folder   9
Notes to consumers, produce buyers, 1987, undated
Box   1
Folder   10
Organic agriculture articles, 1983, undated
Box   1
Folder   11
Producer cooperatives lists, 1990, 1996, undated
Projects and events
Box   1
Folder   12
Apprenticeship program, undated
Box   1
Folder   13
Home on the Range Poultry Collaborative, 1996-1997
Box   1
Folder   14
"Natural Orcharding" seminar, 1994 February-March
Box   1
Folder   15
Organic Day, 1986 June 29
Box   1
Folder   16
Small Farm Gathering, 1994, undated
Series: Correspondence
Box   1
Folder   17
General, 1986-1994, 2003
Box   1
Folder   18
Regarding proposed radioactive waste storage facility near Prairie Island nuclear plant, 1994 January-February
Series: Financial
Box   1
Folder   19
Bedding plant price list, 1997
Box   1
Folder   20
Register and summary reports, 1993
Box   1
Folder   21-23
Sales records, 2003-2004
Box   2
Folder   1-7
Sales records, 2008-2011
Box   2
Folder   8
Time and expense sheets, 2002-2003