Local Co-op Reflections: 40 Years at Lakewinds

Since Lakewinds’ beginning in 1975, the local co-op has had a fruitful (pun intended) existence. The local co-op evolved from its original, small “red shack” to today’s three locations and online delivery via Instacart. With its current inventory of countless products, including thousands that are produced locally, it can be hard to remember Lakewinds’ humble beginnings.

As Lakewinds marks its 40th anniversary, it’s the perfect opportunity to reflect on the co-ops’ history and stories from original customers and founders. From learning about cooking staples to community projects, here are some favorite co-op memories.

Helen Davis | Helen Davis, one of the founders, shared memories of how the local co-op began. She writes that she would buy fresh vegetables from Edie Stodola, who had a produce stand in front of her house. From there the idea of a co-op grew:

“As I recall, it was the desire to buy whole grains and cereals that was the impetus for it all.  It was impossible to get anything but white flour and processed cereal at the grocery store no matter how many times we asked. … Edie Stodola taught me everything I know about growing and eating healthy food (organic was not even in our vocabulary). She also had the pickup truck that we would use to pack my kids in and go to North Country co-op once a week to buy 50-pound sacks of grain, beans, etc.”

Betsy Larson | Betsy wrote to us about discovering the local co-op when she was in her 20s.

“I remember finding it and falling in love with the creaky, uneven floors; the smell of old building; all the bins and the concept of weighing and writing down everything. I remember the strict rules of cleanliness and sitting behind the desk ringing people up when it was my turn to work.”

Jerry and Lynn Cox | Before the co-op even began, Jerry and Lynn met with friends to discuss simple living and divvy up items they’d bought in bulk—even peanut butter. They have fond memories of when the co-op was launched. They write:

“The cans were lined up along the inside walls of the main room and bulk bags of oats, flours, beans, rice, and other food items were dumped into those black bags inside the garbage cans, with the grain scoops in the food item waiting for use. When we came to shop, we brought our own plastic bags or take-home containers. Entering the building before handling any food, we followed the signage instructions to first ‘wash hands.’ A certain day of the week was ‘cheese day’ and we could sign up to help cut, wrap and weigh cheese into small packages. It was a merry time of community.”

Bonnie Skelton | Bonnie, another early member, also volunteered during the co-op’s early years. She writes:

“I taught 4th grade at Groveland School and occasionally brought my students to learn about good foods. Later when we moved across Minnetonka Blvd I brought my students to purchase food with their money and prepare our own lunch.”

Tamara Rogers | Tamara writes in that she was a mother of two young children when she first visited the local co-op.

“I was flummoxed by the plump burlap bags brimming with hard beans. Fortunately Cecy Knutson Faster read my mind, and said, ‘All you have to do is soak a few cups of beans in water overnight, then simmer them.’ Ah, I had some learning to do, to return to cooking techniques of my mother and grandmother. Both that idea and the rustic, rather Scandinavian hut charmed me.”

Betty Wentworth | Betty remembers working as a volunteer at the co-op.

“One of my jobs was driving into south Hopkins, picking up the notes and putting them away at the co-op. A job I had [later] was orientation. I showed new members around, talked about available foods and demonstrated how to use the scale. Back then, bags were rare. We all brought our own containers.”

Patricia and Vernon Isaak | The Isaaks took their family to the original “red shack” remain customers today. One of their favorite memories is about the Green Patch program, which remains today. They write:

“The Green Patch program has benefited countless earth-friendly organizations, including our neighborhood association, the Oaks Folks. This small group, with the help of people across the country, was successful in saving a one-acre oak forest in Hopkins, Hiawatha Oaks Preserve, bordering Highway 8, just east of Highway 169. The trees stand tall, enjoyed by many, and are a refuge and home for wildlife.”


Throughout its 40 years, Lakewinds Food Co-op has supported the community, sustainable practices, local farmers and their families and health and wellness. We hope you’ll help us celebrate 40 years on Saturday, September 19. Please join us for live music, local ice cream, various treats and deals throughout the stores (while supplies last) from 11 am to 3 pm. See you there!