News Release

For Immediate Release, January 6th, 2021

Contact: Leah Smith, Director of Agriculture,

Sow True Seed Transitions to Worker Cooperative

Well-known supplier of open-pollinated seeds is now worker-owned, setting the stage for long term success for the company, the workers, and the community

Asheville, NC — Founded in 2008 by lifelong gardener and food activist Carol Koury, Sow True Seed provides gardeners with open-pollinated and heirloom seeds while actively working to create better access to healthy food in a regenerative, sustainable, and inclusive environment. At the new year,  the company transitioned to a worker owned cooperative, a move that has been in the works for some time. “We have been operating as a non-hierarchical, ‘all voices heard and equal’ organization for a while now,” says Leah Smith, Director of Agriculture, “so a worker cooperative structure is a natural next step for the company. Each and every employee at Sow True Seed is here because they believe wholeheartedly in the mission, so we believe that worker ownership is the best way to ensure that the company continues to be guided by its original principles.” Co-op founders Chloe Grund, Brooke Lovingood, Leah Smith, and Elsa Stanton look forward to welcoming several more employee-owners in the coming years.

The transition allows company founder Carol Koury the ability to focus on other things while knowing that the company she started 13 years ago will continue to grow and sustain itself. “I am proud of the company we built together,” says Koury. “A worker cooperative is a wonderful legacy and a terrific way for Sow True Seed to continue meeting its mission to encourage seed saving for a resilient food system.”

Worker cooperatives are known for creating and sustaining good jobs with the opportunity to build local and personal wealth while reducing economic inequality. They are values-driven businesses that put “worker and community benefit at the core of their purpose,” according to the Democracy At Work Institute.

Thomas Beckett of Carolina Common Enterprise, North Carolina’s cooperative developer, helped frame the legal structure of the transaction and provided business guidance to the new worker owners. “This transition is a triple-win for all involved,” said Beckett. “Ms. Koury has created a legacy of sustainable gardening with Sow True Seed. The new employee-owners now have a personal investment in perpetuating that legacy for themselves and future generations of workers. On top of that, Asheville and the gardening industry retain an economic asset that might otherwise have disappeared upon the founder’s exit.” 

Anne-Claire Broughton, Principal of Broughton Consulting and Founder of the North Carolina Employee Ownership Center (NCEOC) provided guidance and support for Carol Koury pre- and post-transaction, and Stephen A. Brown of Young, Moore Attorneys provided legal support and review. 

“We’re excited for Sow True Seed to join the approximately 465 worker cooperatives in the U.S. and 18 in North Carolina,” says NCEOC’s Anne-Claire Broughton. “When private business owners sell to their workers, it’s a win for them, for the new worker owners, and for the community.”

The Sow True Team expressed excitement with this new beginning. "We are thrilled to make this long-awaited transition to a worker-owned cooperative, and to continue to honor our mission of promoting seed-saving and education for a sustainable future. We are excited for the opportunity to continue to serve our current and future customers, our team, and our community as a whole.”