Co-ops and Community Responding to Flooding // NFCA News August 2023

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Co-ops and Community Responding to Flooding

Deep Root Co-op member Foote Brook Farm, a diversified, certified organic produce farm in Johnson, Vermont lost 75% of their crops and 25 years’ worth of accumulated infrastructure.
In July, record rainfall flooded homes and workplaces, washed out roads, and devastated farms across the Northeast — threatening lives, livelihoods, and food security throughout the region.  

According to the Weather Prediction Center, CNN reported that the seven-day rainfall totals across much of the Northeast already at 300-500% of normal levels as of mid-month.  Many observers have pointed out that the damage rivaled that caused by Tropical Storm Irene in 2011.  Fueled by a warming climate, such storms are likely to become more common, predicts the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The flooding was particularly visible in downtown Montpelier, Vermont, the state capitol and home to Hunger Mountain Co-op.  “We were extremely fortunate that our facility escaped damage, but our community will be forever changed,” said General Manager Kari Bradley.  “I am somewhat in awe of the spirited determination of folks to regroup and rebuild for themselves and our neighbors.”

In addition to supporting staff impacted by the storms, Hunger Mountain Co-op has been focused on providing food and supplies to local food pantries, supporting volunteers involved in cleanup and mutual aid, and providing financial assistance to local farms and suppliers. 

Across our region, food co-ops and their members are working to support their communities, their neighbors, and local producers:

  • Shoppers at Hanover Co-op Food Stores (NH & VT) can donate up at the registers and the co-op will match donations up to $2,500 to go to the NOFA-VT Farmer Emergency Fund.  This fund will aid farmers in repairing the damage caused by the flood.
  • Littleton Food Co-op’s (NH) Round-up at the Registers contributions for July will go to the Vermont Farm Fund.
  • At South Royalton Co-op Market’s (VT) annual meeting last month, they had a fund-raising raffle of Vermont-made products with all proceeds to be donated to the Farmer Emergency Fund.
  • Hunger Mountain Food Co-op (VT) donated water jugs to downtown Montpelier during clean-up and had bottled water available at cost. The co-op is also a collection site for non-perishable foods and is promoting farm fundraising initiatives.
  • Buffalo Mountain Food Co-op (VT) is organizing donations for an employee whose home was flooded and aid for community members in collaboration with the Hardwick Area Food Pantry.
  • City Market/Onion River Co-op (VT) has designated their September Rally for Change donations to go to the Farmer Flood Relief via NOFA VT Farmer Emergency Fund and AALV (New Farms for New Americans Flood Fund). They also have set up a resource page:
  • Middlebury Natural Foods Co-op (VT) sent lunch vouchers to their peer staff at Hunger Mountain Co-op, supporting an affected café as well.
  • River Valley Co-op (MA) made direct donations to local farms that were impacted by the flooding and are organizing further fundraisers. On July 29th the co-op had a fundraiser for their primary organic blueberry producer who lost 80% of their crop due to the late frost.
  • Franklin Community Co-op (MA) Round Up at the registers designation for August will go to CISA’s Emergency Farm Fund and the co-op will match donations up to $500.

As the impacts of climate change are felt here in our region and around the world, we know that we need to act together.  In addition to helping their communities recover from the immediate crisis, food co-ops are helping to build a more resilient and sustainable future.   During Co-ops Day in July, co-operatives around the world committed themselves to the Sustainable Development Goals established by the United Nations.  As businesses owned by their members — the people who use them to meet their shared needs and goals rather than maximizing profit — food co-ops demonstrate this commitment every day in their partnership with local producers, promoting sustainable agriculture and reducing food waste, strengthening food security and access to healthy, affordable food, and supporting good, local jobs.

Where can you help farms and farm resource access:

Co-ops Gather in Brussels

Co-operators from around the world gathered in Brussels for the ICA General Assembly in June.

The Neighboring Food Co-op Association was represented in Brussels, Belgium, as co-operators from around the world gathered for the General Assembly of the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA).

Over 220 delegates from more than 60 countries participated in the event on June 28, 2023, which was open to attendees from ICA member organizations. The National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA) was represented by Val Roach, NCBA Executive Vice President and CFO, and Erbin Crowell, member of the NCBA Board of Directors and Executive Director of the Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA).

“It was an honor to represent NCBA CLUSA in Brussels,” said Crowell, who also serves as a member of the ICA’s Cooperative Identity Advisory Group. “Participating in the General Assembly was an inspiring reminder of the amazing diversity and unity of the international co-operative movement as we work together to build a more inclusive, sustainable and democratic future.”

Welcoming delegates, ICA President Ariel Guarco said, “I want to thank you for being here and for having travelled from all over the world to take part in this Assembly — such an important moment for all co-operatives — where members meet democratically to evaluate the tasks accomplished and plan the way forward.”

In addition to regular business, delegates approved revisions to the ICA’s Articles of Association and approved newly elected representatives of sectoral organizations on the ICA Board of Directors. Dr. Graciela Fernández Quintas, President of Co-operatives of the Americas, was ratified as ICA Vice President, having been recently elected by the ICA Regional Assembly for the Americas.  The gathering was also addressed by Illia Gorokhovsky, President of the Ukrainian co-operatives organization, who expressed his heartfelt thanks to co-operators around the world for their support for Ukrainian co-ops during the war.

While in Brussels, Crowell also took the opportunity to tour local co-ops with ICA staff and members to learn more about the many ways that people are working together to build more a more sustainable and inclusive communities.  After all, who can visit Belgium without a visit to Co-Hop, Brussel’s first co-operative brewpub?  Also on the itinerary was Smart co-op (Société Mutuelle pour ARTistes), founded in 1998 to provide independent freelancers, creatives, and artists with a way to pool risks and resources to create more sustainable working conditions.  Today, the co-op has more than 40,000 members and independent offices in six countries in Europe.

A highlight of the visit was a tour of Bees Co-op, Brussel’s first “participative supermarket.”  Launched as a buying club in 2014, the co-op opened its retail storefront in 2016 and today has 1,700 members, nine employees, and annual revenues of about €3.5 million.  Building on the experience of other food co-ops including Park Slope in the U.S., members are required to not only shop at their co-op, but also contribute a modest number of working hours each month, helping to keep costs down, making healthy food more accessible, and offering an opportunity for people to build community.  Like food co-ops in our region, Bees Co-op is committed to providing healthy, affordable food, and to partnership with local producers and their co-operatives. 

“A core strength of the co-operative movement is its diversity and the fact that our business model empowers people from all walks of life and sectors of the economy,” said Crowell.  “There is so much we can learn from each other and so much to gain from collaboration as we work to build a more inclusive, sustainable economy and society.”

To learn more about the International Co-operative Alliance and the global co-op movement, visit  

Green River Festival

The Neighboring Food Co-op Association was proud to fly the Co-op flag at Green River Festival this summer!

For the second year the Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA) was pleased to sponsor the Green River Festival, held at the Franklin County Fairgrounds in Greenfield, MA from June 23-25. Our tent was a hub of activity where we flew the co-op flag and gave away frisbees and swag from co-ops across our region.

All ages had an opportunity to spin the wheel and were presented with a co-op question like “Who is a co-op owned by?” or “Name something that food co-ops do besides sell good food?” and “Name a co-op, are you a member?” “Can you find your co-op on the map?” and win a prize. Attendees were delighted to take a chance and thanks to Equal Exchange, Cabot Creamery Cooperative, Organic Valley, Real Pickles, PV Squared, Artisan Beverage Cooperative and The Compost Cooperative we gave away multiple hundreds (we lost count!) of items and sparked LOTS of conversation. We also gave out NFCA branded frisbees with a QR code connected to our NFCA Member co-op map.

“It was a joy to be able to hear a fantastic line up of music and enjoy the co-op camaraderie” noted Suzette Snow-Cobb, NFCA Associate Director. “Having volunteers and support from our co-ops made the weekend a successful outreach endeavor!”

Nearby Member Co-ops including Old Creamery Co-op, Quabbin Harvest Co-op, Brattleboro Food Co-op, Franklin Community Co-op, and River Valley Co-op provided staffing and support to make the weekend possible.  As a sponsor, our logo was prominently displayed next to the main stage and on the festival volunteer t-shirts. You can find more photos on our Facebook page.

Co-ops in the News

July 14, 2023
Nightly News

Boston Neighborhood Network Media (8:17 mark)

July 14, 2023

City Market, Onion River Co-op Celebrates 50 years

Burlington, VT. – City Market, Onion River Co-op, is a community-owned food co-operative with two locations in downtown Burlington. The co-op strives to provide a critical service to the residents of Burlington and the larger community by providing a wide variety of local, organic and conventional products at a fair price to all. This fall, City Market is celebrating 50 Years of Food with Purpose.

In September of 1973, Members of the Onion River Co-op came together to provide good food to our community. Across four storefronts, two names, 12,000 Members and 50 years, we’ve continued that mission. We invite the community to help us celebrate this momentous occasion. “We are excited to celebrate the Co-op with an in-person gathering to convey our appreciation of our Members, staff, customers and broader community,” says General Manager, John Tashiro. Join us on September 23 at Hula Lakeside to celebrate our 50th Anniversary! We’ll be there from 1:30pm – 4pm along with lots of great local food from Sherpa Kitchen, Pitchfork Pickle, McKenzie, Ben and Jerry’s, Cabot Creamery Co-op, Feeding Chittenden, O Bread, Krin’s, Stewart’s Bakery and – of course! – food from City Market’s Prepared Foods department. We’ll have drinks from Brio Coffeeworks, Plink, Young at Heart, and Queen City Kombucha. The Dusk Quartet will be performing live music, and we’ll have plenty of family-friendly activities for cooperators of all ages! This is a free event; no tickets or entrance fees are required!

Has your co-op been in the news recently? Send your item to

Partner Profile: ECRS

ECRS provides a front-to-back retail automation solution suite built with a class-leading technology platform. 

As the leading point of sale system provider to food co-ops in the United States, ECRS maintains a value-focused, customer-centric approach. Our solutions are ideal to handle the unique nature of co-operative grocers. Because we value community engagement and partnership, ECRS is uniquely positioned to add value in thought leadership to partner organizations and individual retailers. ECRS is proud to work alongside NFCA to support co-ops across the Northeast, helping to develop programs facilitating features such as Double Up Food Bucks and partnering on numerous start-up projects. We are particularly proud to be working with NFCA members Assabet Co-op Market, which opened in June, and Dorchester Food Co-op, which will open later this summer!

ECRS is an established food and beverage retail solutions provider serving over 4,000 retail locations across North America. ECRS’ revolutionary CATAPULT® system is the industry’s only truly unified point of sale platform. With CATAPULT, the point of sale, self-checkout, e-commerce, inventory, customer loyalty, member management, back office, and enterprise management all share a single transactional logic, called Unified Transaction Logic™. This business logic empowers our retailers by providing actionable business intelligence across the operation. Unifying hardware, software, and services, ECRS offers a holistic retail solution that will increase engagement and improve the consumer experience.

ECRS is committed to perpetual development, expanding value through constant innovation. To that end, CATAPULT is fully-configurable. Optional plug-and-play modules work seamlessly with core applications, offering co-op retailers freedom and flexibility in designing their point of sale platform. Retailers can easily expand platform functionality as their business grows. Exhaustive research, intelligent design, and rigorous pre-market testing ensure that ECRS products integrate smoothly into existing retail environments. And a commitment to partner engagement ensures those products are the solutions retailers need to stay ahead of the game.

The Neighboring Food Co-op Association partners with organizations like ECRS to support the collaboration and shared success of our member food co-ops.  To learn more, visit

August Cave-to-Co-op Special

This month’s special cheese is Sky Ranch by Ice House Farm, Goshen, VT

We are excited to announce the arrival of this month’s Cave to Co-op cheese – Sky Ranch! Produced by Chad and Morgan Beckwith on their farm in Goshen, Vermont. Sky Ranch is a raw goat-milk tomme with each wheel being aged five to eight months.

Ice House Farm’s milk is 100% grass and forage fed, certified Animal Welfare Approved, and they’re working towards organic certification. The soil, pastures, and quality hay are their best tools for creating healthy, delicious milk. The goats have outdoors access 24/7, 365 days a year. The goats are rotationally grazed during the growing season, where they have access to new forage and browse; the herd is moved to new grazing areas once or twice a day, depending on the size and quality of the pasture.

This cheese is a true expression of the Vermont terroir, with its bright and tangy flavor profile, excellent for any cheeseboard. It pairs perfectly with a crisp white wine or a hoppy IPA.

We are proud to offer these exceptional cheeses through our Cave to Co-op program and support the hardworking farmers behind them.

Baked Ratatouille with Sky Ranch

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 red onions, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 eggplants, diced
  • 2 red peppers, seeded and diced
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 500ml passata
  • 200g Sky Ranch, shredded
  • 4 zucchini and/or summer squash) thinly sliced

For the Cheese Sauce

  • 400 ml milk
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 50g plain flour
  • 80g Parmigiano-Reggiano, finely grated
  1. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a heavy frying pan and gently cook the red onion and garlic for 5 mins until just starting to brown. Scatter over the eggplant and red pepper and sizzle for another 4 mins, adding more oil if you need to. Season well and stir through the paprika, then splash in the vinegar and soy sauce. Pour over the passata, then simmer for 5 mins until glossy and thick. Turn off the heat. Can be made up to two days ahead and kept in the fridge.
  2. To make the cheese sauce, heat the milk in a heavy saucepan until simmering. In a separate pan, melt the butter and add the flour. Stir to make a paste. Slowly whisk in the hot milk and simmer gently for 2-3 mins, stirring continually until thickened slightly. Stir in the Parmigiano-Reggiano and season.
  3. Tip the ratatouille into an ovenproof dish, then completely cover it with the cheese sauce. Spread the shredded Sky Ranch and arrange the squash slices on top in concentric circles, alternating between green and yellow if you have them. Can be assembled several hours before cooking.
  4. Heat oven to 425oF. Brush or drizzle the remaining oil over the squash slices and season with sea salt. Bake in the oven for 25-30 mins until the squash are cooked through and starting to brown. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 20 mins before serving.

Each month our Cave to Co-op partnership between Provisions International and the Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA) offers a delicious regional cheese featured at a great price. Strengthening our local and regional farmers and producers by supporting artisanal cheesemakers is a key goal of the Cave to Co-op program. 

Look for the “Cave to Co-opsign in the cheese section at your local food co-op. To find one near you, visit

New England Farmers Union

Speak Up for a Farm Bill for America’s Families!

The Farm Bill is reauthorized every five years, with current legislation expiring on September 30, 2023.  Together, we can ensure our food system remains thriving and sustainable for all Americans, for generations to come — but we need your help!

“The extreme weather conditions we’ve seen this year are all too fresh reminders of the importance of a Farm Bill that includes everything it can to support our family farms and foster a resilient food system.” said Roger Noonan, President of the New England Farmers Union (NEFU)

The Farm Bill is the most significant piece of legislation that affects farmers in the Northeast and across the country, playing a critical role in protecting rural livelihoods and making sure Americans have access to safe, nutritious food.  The Farm Bill also funds nutrition programs like SNAP, formerly known as food stamps, supporting people in our communities who are facing hunger.

Unfortunately, over half of the current Members of Congress have never voted on a farm bill, and a large portion of Americans say they are not familiar with the farm bill and the positive impact it has on our communities.  So, the Farmers Union is proud to be a part of the launch of the “Farm Bill for America’s Families” campaign, which is bringing together agriculture, environmental, forestry, wildlife, nutrition, and anti-hunger organizations to education and advocate for a Farm Bill that works for everyone.  Together, we are working to educate consumers and lawmakers about the importance of the Farm Bill around a unified message focused on food security, job creation, conservation, risk management, and addressing hunger.

As a member of the House Agriculture Committee, Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, 1st District of Maine, is helping to draft the Farm Bill.

“Climate change is one of the most pressing issues for farmers and our food system as we head into the next Farm Bill. Across the U.S., farmers are on the frontlines of the climate crisis – dealing with severe drought, flooding, wildfires, and other extreme weather conditions.” notes Pingree “Farmers are an integral part of the climate solution, and as we negotiate the next Farm Bill, I will be fighting to give farmers more resources.” 

These resources are laid out in Congresswoman Pingree’s Agriculture Resilience Act. The main pillars of which she is working to integrate into this Farm Bill include:

  • Protecting existing farmland
  • Supporting pasture-based livestock systems
  • Boosting on-farm renewable energy
  • Reducing food waste
  • Increasing research
  • Improving soil health

We hope you’ll join us!  To learn more about the Farm Bill for America’s Families campaign, visit and check out the Facebook and Twitter pages.  And if you are not yet a member of New England Farmers Union, we invite you to join and help strengthen the voice of our farmers, workers, and consumers as we speak up for a better, more inclusive and sustainable food system!

Join the Farmers UnionThe National Farmers Union advocates on behalf of nearly 200,000 American farm families and their communities. We envision a world in which farm families and their communities are respected, valued, and enjoy economic prosperity and social justice.  The Neighboring Food Co-op Association is an affiliate member of the New England Farmers Union chapter – and invites farmers, food co-ops, and consumers to join us!  For more information, please visit

Co-operative Governance: Democratic, people-centered, and transformational practice

Register for this engaging in-person knowledge building and networking opportunity ahead of the NCBA CLUSA Co-op IMPACT Conference in Washington, DC, October 4 & 5.  This training will take place at the National Cooperative Bank in Arlington, Virginia, a short commute from downtown DC.  For more information, visit:

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