E-News // Co-ops & Sustainability: It’s In Our DNA! // April 2015

Stay in the loop on the latest innovations in New England’s co-op movement: www.nfca.coop/signup




With Earth Day right around the corner, it’s a great time to focus on how our food co-ops help build a more sustainable future. This message is also at the center of the International Co-operative Alliance’s (ICA) “Blueprint for a Co-operative Decade,” which seeks to promote co-ops as builders of social, economic and environmental sustainability, and to establish the co-op model as the fastest growing business model by 2020.

“By combining financial health, concern for the environment and social purpose, co-operatives are the ultimate sustainable enterprise,” says Dame Pauline Green, President of the ICA. “They can take a multitude of shapes and forms and the important thing to remember is that they are a proven self-help model in both good times and bad.”

How do food co-ops contribute to sustainability?  It’s built into our DNA! For a start, the basic co-operative structure puts people before profit, focusing on meeting member needs and less on growth for its own sake. Co-operative principles and values emphasize fairness, equality and concern for community, as well as sustainable economic development. As a result, food co-op policies tend to represent member concerns, including healthy, organic, and sustainable products, providing good jobs, and developing environmentally sound business practices. In these and other ways, the co-operative model represents a more sustainable form of business.

Your Neighboring Food Co-ops work every day to contribute to a more healthy, just and sustainable food system and environment.  For example, check out City Market/Onion River Co-op’s recent newsletter focusing on their “Sustainability & Environment” work in Burlington, VT.  General Manager Pat Burns shines a light on some of the co-op’s initiatives, from waste diversion and alternative transportation, to putting programs in place to source more sustainable seafood.

How does your food co-op contribute to a more sustainable future?

Learn more about City Market’s programs, and their plans to celebrate Earth Day: http://www.citymarket.coop/news/coop/2015/03/26/sustainability-springs-forth



Have you noticed the “Cave to Co-op” signs in the cheese section of your neighboring food co-op? April’s “Cave to Co-op” special artisan cheese is “Mad River Blue” from Von Trapp Farmstead in Waitsfield, VT.

“Mad River Blue” is a natural rinded blue made with certified organic unpasteurized cows milk.  This blue is very approachable with a mild blue bite but interestingly complex flavor profile and unique creamy texture.  It is wonderful on its own, but also great in recipes.  Find out more about the cheese, including simple recipes that take the bite out of a chilly spring day: https://nfca.coop/CaveToCo-opApril2015

Cave to Co-op is a partnership between Provisions International and the Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA) to support local, artisanal cheese producers in our region and make their products more easily available to co-op shoppers. For more information on the program, please visit www.nfca.coop/CaveToCo-op.



The New England Farmers Union was proud to be represented at the Annual Meeting of Neighboring Food Co-op Association member Franklin Community Co-op, which operates Green Field’s Market and McCusker’s Market in Western Massachusetts. The event in March was an opportunity for members to have a say about the workings of their co-operative, and to meet some of their local producer partners. That’s where farms and New England Farmers Union come in.

New England Farmers Union tabled alongside food businesses, farms and organizations that see the value of membership in our policy work. Many Farmers Union members were present, including Bart’s Homemade Ice Cream; Our Family Farms (Pioneer Valley Milk Marketing Co-op), whose Bree-Z-Knoll Farm is a farm member; Real Pickles Co-op; the Valley Alliance of Worker Co-ops. Franklin Community Co-op is also a business member, and the Neighboring Food Co-op Association is itself an affiliate member.

Throughout the afternoon, many Franklin Community Co-op members came by our table to learn more about what we do. It was exciting to be part of an event where the connections among those who grow our food, prepare our food, sell our food, and eat our food are so evident. Food co-ops are an important part of a healthy food system, and Farmers Union is proud to support their work.

This month, Farmers Union also tabled at the biennial conference Harvest New England, where we gave a workshop on farmer co-operatives, and at the Maine Dairy Industry Association, an affiliate member.

If you want to support farm policy that benefits family farmers and fishermen, you can join New England Farmers Union as an individual, business or organization. And if you’re a member of a NFCA-member co-op, you can join for a discount! Membership is only a few clicks away here: www.newenglandfarmersunion.org/membership/join.

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 information on our partnership and how you can become a member, please visit: www.newenglandfarmersunion.org/co-operation.



May 4-6, 2015: NCBA CLUSA Annual Meeting & Co-op Hall of Fame, Washington, DC

For more information, visit http://www.ncba.coop/acc-2015-schedule-of-events.

June 3-5, 2015: Slow Living Summit, Brattleboro, VT

The Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA) is a sponsor of the Fifth Annual Slow Living Summit, June 3 – 5, 2015 in Brattleboro, Vermont. The theme this year “Food, Mindfully,” an exploration of the journey of food, from farming and food entrepreneurship to food systems to nourishment to food justice and policy.

June 11-13, 2015: CCMA 2015: “Breaking Through,” Boise, Idaho

This years Consumer Cooperative Management Association (CCMA) conference will be held in Boise, Idaho.  The Boise Co-op will join NCBA CLUSA in hosting the conference, which will be held at the Riverside Hotel. This spacious venue provides the ideal setting for collaboration and networking. Indoor and outdoor venues will be used for breakout sessions utilizing the best commodity Boise has to offer…fresh air and lots of sunshine!

Neighboring Food Co-op Association staff will be there, and will be presenting with partners about our co-ops’ collective work to make healthy food and co-op ownership more accessible to all.  For more details on this workshop and the conference schedule, visit: https://www.ncba.coop/ccma-2015-schedule-of-events

CCMA 2015 provides an unprecedented opportunity for managers and board members of food co-ops (big and small) and their support communities to “Innovate, Grow and Lead” collaboratively.  The conference theme, Breaking Through, is a call to action for food co-ops to lead the industry through innovation and collaboration.  Come to CCMA 2015 and be part of a game-changing national conversation that will reshape the future of the food co-op sector!

Add your voice to the conversation: Register and attend CCMA 2015! https://www.ncba.coop/ccma-2015

October 24, 2015: Neighboring Food Co-op Association Fall Member Gathering

Member co-ops of the Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA): Save the date for our annual Fall Gathering, including workshops, presentations and peer to peer networking opportunities.

Neighboring Food Co-op Association
PO Box 93, Shelburne Falls, MA 01370

email: info@nfca.coop
website: www.nfca.coop
facebook: http://www.facebook.com/neighboring