Rockingham Cooperative Celebrates 100th Anniversary

By JESSICA WETZLER
Daily News-Record 2/20/21
 
On Feb. 23, 1921, more than 1,000 farmers from across Rockingham County met to discuss the price of fertilizer sold in the area.
The day marked the first cooperative effort by area farmers, which led to the founding of the Rockingham Cooperative on Oct. 29, 1921.
One hundred years later, the cooperative is ready to celebrate.
On Tuesday, each Rockingham Cooperative store located in the county and surrounding areas will offer exclusive deals to its members to show its appreciation for lasting 100 years.
“We want the community to know how appreciative we are of them,” said Adam Ford, marketing and social media specialist for the Rockingham Cooperative.
Tuesday’s event will be the start of a year-long celebration.
Ford said toward the summer and fall months, Rockingham Cooperative locations will hold more events and exclusive deals, but
for now the cooperative is thankful to start its celebration early. “We are excited to utilize this as a starting point,” Ford said.
Although the list of savings has not been released on the events Facebook page, Ford said farm supply items will be reduced in price and giveaways will be held at all locations.
“We wanted to offer up similar deals for customers to take advantage of as they did back then,” he said.
There will also be a virtual component to the celebration as Ford said social media posts and emails will be sent to cooperative members recognizing the organization’s history and highlighting the resolutions passed in several towns.
Elkton, Bridgewater and Timberville all passed resolutions within the last few months recognizing the 100th anniversary.
Celebrating Rockingham Cooperative’s history is something Ford began working on in 2019.
To gather ideas on how to celebrate not only the cooperative, but the agriculture industry, Ford formed a committee of members from all locations and employment levels to brainstorm. It was concluded that a book would be printed to share the stories of the cooperative’s founders, C. V. Smith and Elmer B. Kaylor.
Smith was the first employee and general manager of the Rockingham Cooperative Farm Bureau, now Rockingham Cooperative. Smith and Kaylor were the only two employees at the time.
After its first year of business as the cooperative, Ford said it gained 268 members and has since grown to more than 5,000.
Throughout the years, the cooperative learned to adapt from being a less than $20,000 business to a $100 million company.
The ability to fit the community’s needs allowed the cooperative to grow and, with support from its members, it became a staple in the agriculture industry.
“This doesn’t happen without community support,” Ford said. “They made it possible.”
Tuesday’s celebration begins at 8 a.m. and will last until 5 p.m.