Organically Grown Company

40 years protecting its mission and independence

Founded in 1978, Organically Grown Company (OGC) has been a pioneer in sustainable, organic agriculture for over 40 years. From its roots as a farmer-run non- profit, OGC has grown into one of the largest independent organic produce distributors in the United States. In 2017 the company transitioned to steward-ownership to protect its mission and remain independent into the future.

OGC understands the impact ownership can have on an organization’s mission, and has utilized multiple ownership structures over the course of its existence. It began as a non- profit set up to help farmers implement organic growing methods; a few years later, however, the founders realized that selling the goods farmers produced would be a more effective way to support both them and the larger movement. The company became a farmers’ cooperative, and later an S-Corp that worked to include employees in its ownership structure. Eventually, OGC created an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP).

A few years ago the company was faced with a common business challenge: How does a mission-based company scale and transition its founders and early employees without selling or going public? OGC needed a long-term ownership solution that would allow it to remain purpose-driven and independent. Presented with this challenge, OGC sought a steward-ownership structure and recapitalization that would enable the company to responsibly exit owners and employees while preserving its mission.

OGC’s steward-ownership structure enables the company to remain permanently independent and to continue to deliver on its positive environmental, social, and economic goals without pressure to demonstrate short-term quarterly profits or produce exit-value for shareholders. And it enables the stewards of the organization, who represent a broad range of stakeholders – including farmers, employees, customers, investors, and the wider community – to realize the company’s purpose while sharing in its profits.

Purpose Evergreen Capital (PEC) supported OGC’s transition to steward-ownership and its recapitalization through a non-voting equity investment. Together with our co-lead investor Candide Group and the OGC team, we developed a profit-sharing waterfall structure that ensures that the business’ core stakeholder groups participate in economic upside alongside investors. Our patient, purpose-aligned investment supports OGC’s stewardship and independence.