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Co-op Education: Reaching the Next Generation
“Why study the Co-operative Movement? What is a co-op and how is it different from other business models? What were the historical conditions that gave rise to the Co-operative Movement and how do they compare with our own times? What relevance does co-operative enterprise have to contemporary economic challenges such as globalization, social inequality and climate change?”
These are some of the questions posed in “Introduction to the Co-operative Movement,” a course being offered this Spring by the Economics Department at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, presented by adjunct lecturer Erbin Crowell, Executive Director of the Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA).
“This is the third year that we’ve offered the course at UMASS,” said Crowell. “And we are excited that we have the maximum of 150 students enrolled again this year.” The course is part of certificate program developed by the UMASS Co-operative Enterprise Collaborative, which includes faculty and graduate students from the UMASS Economics Department, the Valley Alliance of Worker Co-ops (VAWC) and the NFCA.
“I’m delighted that the UMass Amherst Economics Department, working in close collaboration with co-operative networks, can prepare our students for a lifetime of meaningful participation in co-operative enterprises,” said Michael Ash, Department Chair. “Co-ops, with a long history of empowering workers and consumers, have excellent prospects for helping people take back control of their economic lives in the 21st Century.”
This introductory course presents the historical context and philosophical ideas that gave rise to the co-operative movement, the evolution of sectors and industries, global development, and case studies in co-operative enterprise. Students are invited to explore the relevance of the movement to their own lives and concerns, and the degree to which co-operation offers a viable economic alternative and tool for advancing social justice, economic democracy and ecological sustainability.
“I am excited to be the grader for this course on co-operatives,” said Eric Hoyt, a doctoral student in the UMASS Amherst Graduate Program in Economics who lived in housing co-ops while an undergrad at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he also worked with the Center for Cooperatives on the 2008 national census of co-operative enterprises. “I’m especially interested in this topic as I see co-ops as important economic institutions that can help remedy many of the downsides of modern capitalism such as unemployment, alienation, inequality, hyper competition, and lack of community.”
To view the first week of the course, please visit: http://nfca.coop/coopdifference
Co-op Food Stores’ Terry Appleby to Retire
Terry Appleby, longtime General Manager of the Co-op Food Stores of New Hampshire and Vermont (Hanover Consumer Co-operative Society), has announced his plans to retire at the end of the year. In addition to his 24 years
Terry Appleby of service to one of the largest and most successful food co-ops in the United States, Appleby previously worked for 12 years at the Puget Consumers Cooperative in Seattle, WA. His distinguished career in the co-operative movement extended beyond the co-op he managed, including service on the board of directors of National Co+op Grocers and invaluable support to start-up food co-ops. Terry has also been a strong proponent of the principle of co-operation among co-ops, playing a key role in the founding and development of the Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA), a regional federation bringing together 35 food co-ops and start-ups to support their shared success and the growth of the co-operative economy.
In a recent article in The Valley News Ed King, NFCA Board Member and General Manager of Littleton Food Co-op (NH), commended Appleby for his early support for his co-op, then in its start-up phase, giving organizers access to the Co-op Food Store’s staff to help them better understand co-operative operations. “He’s the Grand Poobah of co-operatives in New England,” said King.
Rosemary Fifield, the Co-op’s education director from 1998 until her retirement in September, noted Appleby’s commitment to member education, citing efforts to support consumers’ ability to make informed choices about dairy products created from milk from cows injected with bovine growth hormone: “He always put the benefits to the members ahead of the need to sell a product.”
In the same article, Kate Read Villars, Co-op Food Store’s former membership and marketing director, commented on Appleby’s special “combination of commitment to co-operative principles as well as the business experience,” noting his leadership in paving the way for the successful opening of a new location in Lebanon, NH, in 1997. More recently, Appleby guided the establishment of a new storefront in White River Junction, VT, working with Upper Valley Food Co-op to ensure that the departure of a conventional supermarket did not leave the community without a full service grocery store. Don Kreis, Board Member at Upper Valley Food Co-op and a former Board Member at Co-op Food Stores, described the new location as “the crowning success” of Terry’s tenure as General Manager. “For one thing,” he said, “it undermines the perception that the Co-op is just for wealthy people who like fancy foods.”
“Terry has been an inspiration for me and for co-operators in New England and across the country,” said Erbin Crowell, NFCA executive Director. “We hope that he is looking forward to a well-deserved retirement and know that he will continue to be an active leader in the movement for a more co-operative economy.”
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Monadnock Food Co-op Features NFCA Farm to Freezer Vegetables
From Monadnock Food Co-op “Co-op Updates”:
We’re excited to announce our participation in the Farm To Freezer program – a program that supplies us with frozen fruits and vegetables from small family farms in the Northeast, packed by the Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA).
“Our member food co-ops purchase an estimated $50 million in local products annually,” said Erbin Crowell, NFCA executive director. “And by working together, we can do more to grow a more healthy, sustainable and co-operative regional food system.”
Our Farm to Freezer fruits and vegetables are easy to find in our freezer section – they’re packed with a simple black and white label and a clear package so you can see what’s inside:
- Blueberries: Our delicious highbush blueberries were grown by Greig Farm, a diversified fruit and vegetable farm in Red Hook, NY, in operation for over 60 years. Greig Farm practices Integrated Pest Management (IPM) to maintain healthy, productive blueberry bushes.
- Organic Broccoli: Established in 1818, Hepworth Farms is a seventh-generation family farm in Milton, NY, in the Hudson Valley. Today, the farm includes 250 acres of NOFA-certified land yielding more than 400 varieties of organic vegetables.
- Organic Edamame: New this year, our organically grown edamame is grown by Markristo Farm in Hillsdale, NY. Active board members of Berkshire Grown, Martin and Christa Stosiek are committed to healthy food systems and sustainable agriculture.
- Organic Green Beans: Martin and Christa Stosiek started Markristo Farm in 1988 on the land where Martin was raised in Hillsdale, NY. Active board members of Berkshire Grown, the Stosiek’s are committed to healthy food systems and sustainable agriculture.
- Sweet Corn: Our delicious, non-GMO sweet corn is grown by Altobelli Farm, a third generation farm in Columbia County, NY. John Altobelli has been farming on this land for over 30 years, using minimum tillage, drip irrigation, cover cropping, and no chemical fertilizers or pesticides.
We hope that you will try these regionally grown and processed fruits and vegetables – available exclusively at our Neighboring Food Co-ops! Please let us know what you think.
CavetoCoop January’s Local Artisan Cheese – “EIDOLON”
Have you noticed the “Cave to Co-op” signs in the cheese section of your local food co-op? The project is a partnership between Provisions International and
the Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA) to support artisanal cheese producers in our region and make their products more easily available to co-op shoppers. Each month, a delicious local cheese is featured at a great price.
January’s “Cave to Co-op” special artisan cheese is “Eidolon” from Grey Barn in Martha’s Vineyard, MA. Eidolon is a certified organic, bright, grassy cheese that smells of freshly tilled earth and has a creamy layer topping its dense cake like center.
Find out more: http://nfca.coop/CaveToCo-opJanuary2016
For more information on the program, please visit www.nfca.coop/CaveToCo-op.
NEFU New England Farmers Union: Supporting New Farmers
The New England Farmers Union (NEFU) recognizes that the future of our food system depends on the next generation of family farmers and fishermen. As part of our investment in this future, NEFU joined with partner organizations in convening the First Annual Northeast New Farmer Winter Gathering in December. The conference brought together about 150 people from all over New England, New York state, and even Canada at the Arts Block in Greenfield, MA, for network, learning and collaboration.
The conference began with an anti-oppression training facilitated by representatives of Springfield-based Gardening the Community. Farmers were asked to reflect on the challenges and opportunities for dismantling structural racism in the food system. In the afternoon, participants attended workshops on policy advocacy, led by the National Young Farmer Coalition’s Eric Hansen and Sophie Ackoff, and co-operative organizing.
It was standing room only for the panel on agricultural co-operatives and how producers can work together to achieve scale and build a more just and sustainable regional food system. Speakers for the session were Roger Noonan, President of the New England Farmers Union and a member of Local Harvest Co-operative CSA, Faith Gilbert from the Letterbox Farm Collective, and Warren Facey of Our Family Farms (Pioneer Valley Milk Marketing Co-operative).
Attendees discussed the benefits of co-operation, the basic structure of co-operative enterprise, and resources for organizing, including NEFU’s Growing a Food System for the Future: A Manual on Co-operative Development. Noonan noted that the three “legs” of sustainability – economic, environmental, and social justice – are all included within the co-operative values and principles.
Several discussion groups followed the panels, and after a long and fulfilling day of networking, organizing, and learning, farmers got to kick back and listen to live music and enjoy pizza donated by Guiding Star Grange #1. NEFU organized a raffle with prizes donated by co-op members Real Pickles and Artisan Beverage Co-op, and the NYFC. Organizing the event were New England Farmers Union, Young Farmer Network, Beginning Farmer Network of Massachusetts, National Young Farmers Coalition, New Connecticut Farmer Alliance, and the Harvard Food Literacy Project.
The Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA) is an affiliate member of the New England Farmers Union (NEFU), representing our commitment to collaboration among consumers and our region’s family farmers and fishermen to influence food system policy and build a more vibrant, resilient and co-operative food system in New England. NFCA Executive Director Erbin Crowell serves as Vice President of NEFU, and many of our Neighboring Food Co-ops are organizational members. For more info on our partnership & how you can become a member, visit: www.newenglandfarmersunion.org/co-operation.
Neighboring Food Co-op Association’s EVENTS calendar:
Jan 30th 2016: Northeast Organic Farming Association NH Winter Conference
Feb 13-15th 2016: Northeast Organic Farming Association VT Winter Conference
March 5th 2016: NFCA 5th Annual Meeting
March 10-12th 2016: Up & Coming, Up & Running
March 12-13th 2016: CT Northeast Organic Farming Association Winter Conference
May 12 – 14, 2016: 3 Day Executive Education Course, Co-operative Management Practices to Strengthen Identity, Loyalty and Overall Business Performance
This is an interactive professional development opportunity focused on leading thinking in co-operative management coupled with tangible examples of how to translate knowledge into action. The course will take place from May 12 – 14, 2016 at the Lord Nelson Hotel in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Daniel Cote will remain as the lead instructor with Karen Miner and Sonja Novkovic acting as facilitators. There will also be Executives in Residence presenting throughout. For more info: http://www.smu.ca/academics/sobey/cme-executive-education.html
June 9-11th 2016: CCMA 2016
Hosted by the Neighboring Food Co-op Association in Amherst, MA.
Neighboring Food Co-op Association
PO Box 93, Shelburne Falls, MA 01370