Cooperative Fermentation’s began with a mission is to democraticize our food system through creating cooperatives in food and farming. Seeking to accelerate the growth of cooperatives and bring communities together to create new projects that meet the needs of the people, cooperative fermentation mimics the helpful bacteria that ferments ordinary cabbage into delicious saurkraut. Today our work continues as Cooperative Design Lab.

CDL is run cooperatively using open and collaborative project management practices. Our co-facilitators are trainers, consultants, cooperative developers, curriculum developers, project coordinators, educators and alumni who are passionate about cooperatives and building resilient local economies and communities. We often do short consults to asses the readiness companies for conversion to a co-op or facilitate an intervention to make your organization more collaborative and cooperative.

None of us make a living solely by doing this work; we are also cooks, graphic designers, parents, permaculturists, beekeepers, bookkeepers, computer systems engineers, farmers and gardeners, innkeepers, musicians, activists, and researchers.

We offer workshops, consulting, and facilitation work to aid the growth of the cooperative movement. We are focused on supporting worker and producer cooperatives and spreading this model into more Maine communities.



Rachel Lyn Rumson

Rachel Lyn’s organizational development practice is steeped in action research. Rachel Lyn loves to increase engagement and participation in groups and in the economy. She is interested in projects that creatively invest in living, social and cultural capital. She is a capacity-builder and sets containers for emergence, design, and connection to happen.  In addition to running Cooperative Design Lab, formerly Cooperative Fermentation, Rachel Lyn runs a homestead B&B with her partner Mike Joyce in Gray Maine, develops curriculum and consults for Cooperative Development Institute, and facilitates permaculture design courses with the Center for an Ecology-based Economy in Norway, Maine. This is her fourth year co-hosting CDL.

Our Founder:

Jonah Fertig
Founder, Co-Coordinator

Jonah is a cooperator, organizer, cook, teacher, facilitator, farmer, artist and father.  He co-founded Local Sprouts Cooperative in Portland, Maine and helped to develop it from an idea into a successful worker-owned cafe, catering business and learning programs.  He also started the People’s Free Space, a community space and project in Portland, and the Burdock Gathering, a community learning gathering in Central Maine.   He most recently co-founded the Machigonne Community Land Trust in Portland and the Portland Urban Agriculture Sub-Committee that is part of the Mayor’s Initiative for a Healthy and Sustainable Food System.  He teaches cooking, gardening, cooperatives and visionary art at the New School, a democratic high school in Kennebunk. He loves to cook, play with his kids, play music and create projects in communities.  He now works as a Cooperative Developer and Food Systems Coordinator with Cooperative Development Institute.

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