Rebuilding Together // NFCA News February 2023

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In this edition:

Assisting Selma
January 14, 2023 FSC/LAF Forestry Outreach Specialist, Corey Bacon, assists with clean up after a devasting tornado hits Selma FSC/LAF Archival Images 

On January 12th severe weather plowed through the Deep South. Selma, Alabama, took a direct hit from what has been rated an EF-2 tornado by the National Weather Service. The Federation of Southern Cooperatives / Land Assistance Fund (FSC/LAF) responded by quickly mobilizing a disaster relief team and headed to Selma to assist the community in efforts to cover roofs with blue tarps as many residents sheltered in place to save their belongings. The team was comprised of Alabama-based staff and spearheaded by the Director of the FSC/LAF Rural Training & Research Center (RTRC).  

While in Selma the FSC/LAF disaster relief team offered support by assisting with clean-up, cutting and clearing trees and brush. The temporary team also answered phone calls, prepared lunches, mended fences, served dinners. Additionally, the team provided guidance to resource locations. 

During this time, the Federation is also offering temporary housing at our RTRC Center in Epes, Alabama, to families impacted by the tornado in Eutaw and Selma.  

Historically, rural communities have less developed infrastructure, greater distances between people & services, and fewer resources. These communities suffer more because the impact of disaster hurts twice as much when limited resources can’t support the assistance needed and whatever support there is available takes twice as long to reach those in need. 

Thus, family farmers, co-operatives and community-based organizations, like the Federation, are usually positioned to assist communities and populations severely affected by disasters, and other economic hardships. The greatest needs during times of disaster are food, water, and shelter. 

“Disaster relief & recovery is a major part of our overall co-operative economic development, land retention, and advocacy efforts. We understand there are various challenges of rebuilding rural communities after a major disaster; the community itself — including farmers, landowners, and co-operatively owned businesses — must be part of the relief and recovery efforts in order to create resilient communities,” said Cornelius Blanding, Executive Director of the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund. 

“Farmers Are First Responders and have always been.” 

The FSC/LAF is a 56-year-old co-operative association of black farmers, landowners, and co-ops.  Our mission is to be a catalyst for the development of self-supporting communities through cooperative economic development, land retention, and advocacy. We envision sustainable rural communities supported by a network of farmers, landowners, and co-operatives based on local control and ownership. 

The Federation of Southern Cooperatives and the Neighboring Food Co-op Association are partners in supporting equitable trade, co-operative development, policy advocacy, and racial and economic justice.  For information on the Federation and making a donation to their work, visit  

The Federation of Southern Cooperatives and the Neighboring Food Co-op Association are partners in supporting equitable trade, co-operative development, policy advocacy, and racial and economic justice.  For information on the Federation and making a donation to their work, visit  

Congressman McGovern to Address NFCA Annual Meeting 

A longtime advocate for justice, food security, and an economy that works for everyone, Congressman McGovern is also a member of the Congressional Cooperative Business Caucus. 

The Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA) is honored to welcome Congressman Jim McGovern, U.S. Representative for the 2nd District of Massachusetts, as the keynote speaker for our 12th Annual Meeting, coming up on March 18.  Mr. McGovern was first elected to Congress in 1996 and currently serves as a senior member of the Committee on Agriculture’s Subcommittee on Nutrition and Oversight, is the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Rules, and is a member of the bipartisan Congressional Cooperative Business Caucus.  With Farm Bill negotiations on the horizon, we’re looking forward to Congressman McGovern’s comments on the role and potential of our food co-ops in helping to build a more just, sustainable, and inclusive food system and economy. 

NFCA Member Co-ops, look for more information on our 12th Annual Meeting coming soon!  

Image above: Congressman McGovern issuing a statement following an announcement from President Biden that he would convene the second ever White House Conference on Food, Nutrition, Hunger and Health in September 2022.
Source: In Fight Against Hunger, McGovern Secures Historic White House Win

Co-ops: An Alternative to Consolidation

Co-ops offer an alternative to corporate consolidation of our food system and economy. 

In an article published in January in the online magazine Civil Eats, “As Grocery Stores Get Bigger, Small Farms Get Squeezed Out,” the author asks whether the proposed merger of major retailers Kroger and Albertson’s will “put more money in the pockets of retailers, making it even harder for small and mid-sized farms to access markets?”  The short answer that, yes, the consolidation of corporate supermarkets will increase returns for investors, limit consumer choice, and exclude more family farmers.  Fortunately, there are alternatives including agricultural co-ops that enable producers to build scale and compete in the marketplace, and food co-ops that empower communities to have more control over the food they buy and the impact of their choices on the wider food system and economy.   

Community food co-ops emphasize making healthy, affordable groceries more accessible for their members and shoppers.  But this is just part of their mission.  Central to the vision of the Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA) is a thriving co-operative economy, rooted in a healthy, just and sustainable food system, and working together to support family farmers and local producers is a vital part of this work. 

For example, NFCA member food co-ops sold more than $100 million dollars in locally grown and produced products last year — or nearly 25% of total sales!  And by working with producer co-ops such as Cabot Creamery Co-op, Deep Root Organic Co-op, and Organic Valley, we help strengthen the position of family farmers in the marketplace.  We also partner with farmer-led organizations such as the Federation of Southern Cooperatives / Land Assistance Fund to advocate on policy issues affecting farmers and land access, and the Farmers Union on initiatives such as the Fairness for Farmers campaign to challenge corporate monopolies that negatively impact family farmers and their communities.   

Because they are designed not to maximize returns for investors, but rather to meet the needs and aspirations of their members, co-operatives can think bigger.  And because food co-ops are collectively owned and governed by their members – the people who live and work in the communities they serve – they are not likely to pick up and leave or be bought out by investors. Together, more than 168 thousand food co-op members in communities across the Northeast are working to build an alternative to corporate consolidation — a better, more inclusive food system that works for everyone. 

You can read the full Civil Eats article at this link. 

Image above: Congressman McGovern issuing a statement following an announcement from President Biden that he would convene the second ever White House Conference on Food, Nutrition, Hunger and Health in September 2022.
Source: In Fight Against Hunger, McGovern Secures Historic White House Win

Love Your Food, Love Your Co-op

Your local food co-ops can help you share the love!  

Here’s just a few ways your local food co-ops are helping to share the love this Valentine’s Day and helping build a more healthy, just and sustainable food system: 

  • Love Your Local Farmers & Producers. Your food co-ops work hard to support our local farmers and love that they grow a variety of fruits and vegetables to offer shoppers.  
  • Love Good Food. Celebrate with a loved with gifts and lovingly prepared food from your co-op’s delis and bakeries. Check out these ideas from Brattleboro Food Co-op, Hanover Co-op Food Stores, and Littleton Food Co-op
  • Love Local Cheese. Try a new regionally-sourced cheese. Our co-ops have great cheese selections! Including the Cave to Co-op program with recipe ideas and producer background of each featured cheese. 
  • Love to Learn. City Market/Onion River has Valentine’s themed virtual classes and a variety of in-person classes to inspire creativity and wellness. Co-op Food Stores have a plethora of culinary classes lined up. 
  • Local Love. Monadnock Food Co-op is hosting a Local Love Party, an evening of sampling, tastings, and art activities.  
  • Love Chocolate! And, of course, our co-ops have extensive collections of locally produced, fair-trade and organic chocolates and treats!  Check out these ideas from Middlebury Natural Foods Co-op

How is your local co-op sharing the love?   

Find a food co-op near you at

Simply Voting

Simply Voting Inc. is a specialized provider of secure, hosted online elections.  

Since 2003, Simply Voting has supported thousands of organizations in running millions of voting events across several industries and sectors – from universities to labor unions, to professional membership associations, to corporations, to municipalities, and cooperatives across the spectrum. We have been a proud partner of the Neighboring Food Co-op Association and its member cooperatives for several years, providing an online platform to assist in democratic endeavors. 

Whether an organization is voting on revised by-laws or electing a governing board or a slate of officers, or anything in between, e-democracy and elections are often some of the most important activities an organization undertakes internally. Online voting helps organizations maintain up-to-date electronic contact information for their membership, increase member engagement and enfranchisement by allowing members to participate on their own terms, and reduces operating costs associated with election administration, without compromising security or auditability. 

Successful cooperative elections typically incorporate four fundamentals of electoral legitimacy: inclusivity, transparency, accountability, and competitiveness. Ensuring that all stakeholders are involved in the process goes a long way towards building trust among all parties – whether that is a voter participating in an election, a candidate running in an election, or the staff administering an election. By incorporating these fundamentals, elections can withstand any tests to electoral legitimacy. 

More than ever, agile cooperatives that adapt rather than run from an ever-increasing digital world, achieve their goal of providing value and serving their members in meaningful ways. And at Simply Voting, we are always ready to be an essential partner in helping cooperatives accomplish their missions. 

As part of our partnership, NFCA Member Co-ops can receive a special discount on Simply Voting’s services.  Numerous of our member co-ops are using Simply Voting to meet their election needs. For more information, contact Suzette Snow-Cobb at  

February Cave-to-Co-op Special

This month’s special cheese is MT ALICE from Von Trapp Farmstead, Waitsfield, VT 

Each month, your Neighboring Food Co-ops feature our region’s artisan cheesemakers by offering a specially selected cheese at great price. The Cave to Co-op program is possible because of the partnership between distributor Provisions International, NFCA Co-ops and the many cheese producers in our region.

Since 1959, when Werner and Erika von Trapp purchased the von Trapp Farm, the farm has transitioned (over the course of three generations) to a certified organic dairy and in 2009 added cheese making to the value-added operations. Striving for high-quality standards, the von Trapp Farm produces some of the sweetest organic milk for premium cheese production and have some of the happiest cows in Vermont.

Mt. Alice is named after a distinct mountain peak southeast of the farm. This bloomy rind Camembert-style cheese is an elegantly smooth, milky delight made from the farm’s organic pasteurized cows’ milk and aged for three to five weeks. Mt. Alice is perfect on a cheese plate and makes a great easy lunch, thickly smeared on a crusty baguette. If you are feeling more adventurous however, here are a few recipes that highlight its mushroomy and milky flavor.

Here are a couple of excellent recipes featuring the creamy-ness of Mt Alice. We featured MT Alice in 2018 and again in 2021. You can find more recipes here and here

Savory Tart with Broccoli, Guanciale and Mt. Alice

  • 1 sheet puff pastry
  • 14 oz. broccoli florets
  • 9 oz. of Mt. Alice
  • 1 thick slice guanciale or bacon
  • 1/4 cup fresh cream
  • 1/3 cup grated Grana Padano
  • 2 eggs
  • Nutmeg
  • Salt & Pepper
  1. Boil the broccoli florets in salted water for 4-5 minutes, then drain, cool in cold water and chop. Cut the guanciale into strips, fry in a dry pan on high heat for a couple minutes, so they brown and release their aroma.
  2. Cut the Mt Alice into cubes, without removing the rind. Beat the eggs with the cream, a little grated nutmeg and a pinch of salt and pepper.
  3. Trim sheet of puff pastry to a larger diameter than the pan you’ll be cooking it in. Line a baking pan with parchment paper, then with a round sheet of puff pastry, letting the extra dough hang over the sides.
  4. Add the broccoli, Mt. Alice and guanciale, then pour the eggs in. You can use the scraps from the sheet of puff pastry to create a lattice on top of the tart. Grate some Grana Padano over the top.
  5. Bake the tart at 350 °F for 40 minutes, covering if browning too quickly, then remove from the oven, wait 10 minutes and serve.

Mt. Alice Suffed Garlic Bread

Mt. Alice Stuffed Garlic Bread

  • 1 loaf of your favorite bread
  • 6 tbsp. butter, melted
  • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • 8 oz. Mt. Alice
  • 1 c. shredded mozzarella
  • 1/4 c. grated Parmesan
  1. Preheat oven to 350° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a serrated knife, cut slits 2″ apart in bread, being careful not to cut all the way through.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together melted butter, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, salt, and red pepper flakes. Brush over and inside bread. Place bread on baking sheet.
  3. Slice Mt. Alice into small pieces, then stuff bread with shredded mozzarella and Mt. Alice slices. Sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake until bread is toasted on top and cheese is melty, about 15 minutes.
  4. Garnish with parsley and serve warm.

Strengthening our local and regional farmers and producers by supporting artisanal cheesemakers is a key goal of the Cave to Co-op program. For more information on Cave to Co-op, contact Suzette Snow-Cobb at

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

New England Farmers Union

Spreading the word at the NOFA/Mass Winter Conference. 

The 2023 NOFA/Mass Winter Conference brought together farmers, gardeners, educators, and organizations sharing resources and ideas to support our regional farming community. The New England Farmers Union was there, sharing a table with partner The Neighboring Food Co-op Association. Suzette Snow-Cobb, NFCA Staff and NEFU’s Local Food Safety promoter talked with folks about NEFU’s activities and membership and food safety educational opportunities and resources.  The winner of the locally-grown food basket, Andrealis, expressed thanks and enthusiasm at having the opportunity to learn more about co-operatives and farmer resources. 

Find out more about Produce Safety trainings, rules and resources: 

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.  Farmers are invited to join the New England Farmers Union chapter – and consumers can join as a “Friend of the Farmer” for just $15.  For more information, please visit 

Workshop: Taking Action on Principle 6

Join fellow co-operators for an interactive short course to take a deep dive on Principle 6 from diverse perspectives — from the role of associations and federations to business partnerships and supply chains, to the development of new co-ops. NFCA member co-ops receive a discount on registration. For more information, visit

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