International Day of Cooperatives // NFCA News July 2024


Was this newsletter forwarded to you? Subscribe here to keep up to date on NFCA News!
In this edition:

“Please Feel Free to republish these Stories in your Co-op or Organization’s Newsletter or Blog, or Link to them in Social Media, crediting ‘Neighboring Food Co-op Association’ and linking to our website at https://nfca.coop.”


International Co-ops Day

On Saturday, July 6, people around the world will celebrate the International Day of Co-ops with the theme “Co-operatives Building a Better Future for All.”

This year’s celebration of #CoopsDay offers food co-ops, credit unions, and other co-operative enterprises the opportunity to showcase their contributions to building a sustainable future, accelerating efforts to implement the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) by 2030. The theme also positions co-ops to be leaders in the upcoming UN Summit of the Future and builds momentum toward the 2025 International Year of Co-operatives.

The Co-operative Identity and our shared Values and Principles provide a strong foundation for achieving the SDGs through inclusive and sustainable growth and protecting the environment and fighting climate change.  Through democratic governance and joint ownership, co-ops set an example for more resilient communities, bringing together people from diverse backgrounds together and fostering mutual understanding and respect.

The 2023 UN Secretary-General Report on Cooperatives in Social Development acknowledged that co-ops have a track record of promoting the economic and social development of all people including marginalized groups.  Around the world, co-operatives consistently show resilience in times of social and economic crises, and the UN recognizes the movement as its key partner in accelerating sustainable development, calling on member states to support and strengthen support for co-ops.

“As we celebrate the significant and often quiet contributions of co-operatives, it is also time for us to reflect on what we have accomplished to build a better future, and what we can do better together,” says Jeroen Douglas, the Director General of the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA). “Let’s use this day to be inspired to collaborate, examine all the possibilities to reach the SDG goals, and take action to achieve them.”

For more information on how food co-ops make a difference every day, please visit https://nfca.coop/Co-opsDay.


New GM at Hunger Mountain Co-op!

Hunger Mountain Co-op Welcomes Mary Mullally as New General Manager

Hunger Mountain Co-op’s Council is thrilled to announce that Mary Mullally (mu-LAH-lee) has been promoted to General Manager for their co-operative.  With years of experience and dedication under her belt, she has proven herself a key asset to the organization.  Hunger Mountain is a founding member of the Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA), a regional federation of community grocery co-operatives, and since 2020 Mary has served on the Board of Directors, currently serving as Vice President.

With ten thousand members, Hunger Mountain is celebrating 52 years of shared values, great food, strong community, and sustainability. The co-op does nearly $30 million of business each year, and in 2023, 39% of sales were of local products, including 362 Vermont vendors.  Organic products constituted 32% of total sales.

Mary’s journey with the Hunger Mountain Co-op began almost 20 years ago, when she first joined as a cashier. She then took on more responsibilities, holding various positions including Manager on Duty and Storekeeping Manager.

Prior to her time at the Co-op, she worked at Ben & Jerry’s as a store manager and left the company in 2003, when Unilever took ownership. In the subsequent year, she started a nonprofit that supported children in Trinidad and Tobago.

During her time at the Co-op, Mary has gained valuable insights into the business while overseeing safety, security, receiving, storekeeping, and Managers on Duty. As part of the senior management team, she has played an essential role in planning and executing capital expenditures budgets and has participated in visioning and planning exercises.

Mary’s passion for healthy food access, supporting local farmers, empowering staff, and nurturing a healthy workplace culture aligns with the Co-op’s values. Her unique blend of experience and enthusiasm make her a vital part of the team while striving to serve customers better and providing delicious food options.

The Hunger Mountain Co-op Council gathered input and feedback from members and staff throughout the competitive nationwide search for a new General Manager. This collaborative approach gave a wide range of stakeholders a say in the process. Based on working with her, very positive feedback from members and staff, and our own interview with Mary, the Council vote to offer her the job was unanimous.

The Council also extends its gratitude to the entire senior management team and staff who have shown flexibility and dedication while keeping the store running smoothly throughout the transition process.

On taking up the new role, Mary said, “I’m grateful for all the support from members and staff during this transition period. I look forward to working with everyone on a positive reset at the Co-op.”

Mary succeeds Kari Bradley, who left the Co-op last year after 19 years of service.

The Council is delighted to have this experienced and respected employee step into the General Manager position. Exciting opportunities lie ahead for Hunger Mountain Co-op and looking forward to serving our community better than ever before.

“Mary’s dedication to Hunger Mountain Co-op and to our wider co-operative community is evident in everything she does,” said Erbin Crowell, NFCA executive director.  “We couldn’t be more excited by this announcement and look forward to her leadership as General Manager.”


Lifting Up Communities at CCMA!

Becky Colpitts, Community Outreach Coordinator, Littleton Food Co-op (NH), received a ‘Cooperative Service’ award.
Many of your Neighboring Food Co-ops were celebrated as co-operators from across the country gathered in Portland, ME for CCMA 2024! 

It was great to gather with friends and colleagues in June for CCMA, the national conference for food co-ops, hosted by NFCA Member Portland Food Co-op (ME).  Organized by the University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives and co-sponsored by the Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA), sessions brought together over 350 food co-op managers, directors, staff, and partner organizations for workshops, dialogs, and tours designed to support success, innovation, and development of the food co-op movement. 

The conference was also an opportunity for recognition of excellence, and we were particularly excited to celebrate NFCA members and their staff as awards were announced.   Doug Johnson, General Manager of Belfast Community Co-op (ME) and Becky Colpitts, Community Outreach Coordinator for Littleton Food Co-op (NH), received awards for ‘Cooperative Service,’ given in recognition of many years of dedicated leadership and exemplary service. NFCA member Assabet Co-op Market (MA), which celebrated their  one-year anniversary in May, received the ‘Start Up of the Year’ award, given to a co-op that has recently successfully opened their store and has displayed notable excellence.  The ‘Bill Gessner Start-Up Food Co-op Award’ for 2024 was awarded to Caledonia Food Co-op, organizing to open their store in St. Johnsbury, Vermont. Also recognized during the festivities was Lucy Georgeff, General Manager of High Falls Food Co-op (NY) and NFCA Board Member, receiving  the Bill Gessner GM Coaching Award.

NFCA Executive Director Erbin Crowell joined Doug O’Brien, President and CEO of NCBA CLUSA, and Kirstie Boyette, Associate Director of the Cooperative Development Foundation for a session on the 2025 International Year of Cooperatives.  Attenders heard about what preparations are being made to engage co-ops and their members and had an opportunity to share ideas and strategies for share the impact co-op enterprises have on their communities. In proclaiming 2025 the second International Year of the Cooperatives, the UN has noted that co-ops are uniquely positioned to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which include no poverty, zero hunger, and good health and well-being.

“What we’re doing in 2024 is gathering information so that that we as a community can tell the cooperative story,” noted O’Brien.  “We’re collecting that impact both quantitatively and qualitatively in hopes of helping people tell their own co-op stories.”

This year’s conference theme “Rising Tides: Lifting Up Communities Through Cooperation” drew inspiration from the metaphor “a rising tide lifts all boats,” emphasizing the idea that as co-operatives flourish, they elevate the overall well-being and prosperity of the communities they serve.  Our food co-ops have a history of sharing innovations, strategies and ways to flourish, and attenders certainly were able to bring back to their co-ops stories, new ideas, strengthened connections, and inspiration from their time together in Portland. We are thankful for the warm welcome from the Portland Food Co-op staff and excellent hosting along with other Maine co-operatives and organizations on the Host Committee.

Mark your calendars now for CCMA 2025 as the conference moves to the Midwest hosted by Whole Foods Co-op in Duluth, Minnesota!

What a treat to catch up with leaders from NFCA’s early days!
L to R Erbin Crowell (Executive Director, NFCA), Terry Appleby (former GM, Hanover Co-op Food Stores), Suzette Snow-Cobb (Associate Director, NFCA) , Alex Gyori (former GM, Brattleboro Food Co-op), and Michael Wells (Board Member, Putney Food Co-op & NFCA).

For more information on CCMA 2025, visit https://ccma.coop 


Northeast Organic Family Farm Partnership

Two More NFCA Member Co-ops Sign on to Northeast Organic Family Farm Partnership

Springfield Food Co-op (VT) and North Country Food Co-op (NY) have signed on Northeast Organic Family Farm Partnership (NOFFP) as Retail Partners.  The Partnership is focused on increasing the purchases of organic dairy products that support regional organic dairy farms.

Both the Springfield Food Co-op and North Country Food Co-op have been community staples for decades, building relationships with family farms and supporting a regional economy.   As part of being a Retail Partner with NOFFP, the co-ops are committed to carrying organic brands sourcing Northeast milk, such as Butterworks Farm, Champlain Valley Creamery, Miller Milk, Organic Valley, Strafford Organic Creamery, von Trapp Farmstead, Sidehill Farm, and Stonyfield Organic. To help raise awareness, shoppers will see new signage and promotions in-store to help identify brands committed to the organic farms in the region.

"We first heard about the NOFFP through an event held by the Neighboring Food Co-op Association. As a co-operative, one of our purposes is to be a part of the connective tissue of our local regions, and by virtue of already having sold some of the products of brand partners of the NOFFP, signing on made perfect sense.” - Stephen Belcher, Operations Manager, North Country Food Co-op

“Olga Moriarty (NOFFP Executive Director) made becoming a retail partner easy. We are thrilled to be formally teaming up with this non-profit that seeks to unite organic dairy farms throughout New England and to continue do our part and grow in supporting local industry.”

NOFFP was created to help solve the crisis of disappearing family farms in the region. A collaboration of farmers, processors, retailers, activists, and government agencies, the organization invites consumers to pledge to purchase at least one-fourth of their weekly organic dairy purchases from brands that have committed to sourcing their dairy from Northeast organic family farmers. A central goal of the effort is to increase demand for dairy produced in the region, creating market stability to help at-risk farms and build greater food system resilience for the future.

Springfield and North Country join the 22 other NFCA member co-ops who have signed on to the partnership.

“Our co-ops have seen their members and consumers respond positively to the message that they play a role in supporting our regional dairy farmers,” says NFCA Associate Director Suzette Snow-Cobb. “Having additional co-ops sign on to the Partnership increases the opportunity to tell the farmer’s stories and continue supporting a regional food system for everyone.”

In addition to regional organic dairy contract terminations in 2022 that prompted the formation of NOFFP, area organic dairy farmers now face new challenges: exorbitant feed costs and unpredictable grazing and pasture conditions that threaten forages, key components for grass-based operations. These conditions are hitting farmers in this region in unprecedented ways but are disproportionately impacting organic dairy farms.

“Some of our best, most innovative farmers saw severe financial losses this last year, threatening their ability to continue,” says Gary Hirshberg, former Stonyfield Farm CEO and NOFFP founder. “The effects of losing such farms include a devastating economic loss to our rural communities, loss of ecosystem services such as crucial carbon sequestration and habitat conservation, and increased reliance on products made from consolidated farms thousands of miles away. The food system needs to rally around these farmers to prevent the organic dairy products we enjoy – milk, cream, yogurt, butter, ice cream, and cheese – from becoming scarce.”

The Northeast Organic Family Farm Partnership also encourages consumers to sign a consumer pledge and learn more about its efforts via its website, at www.saveorganicfamilyfarms.org.


Reaching Out Co-op Style

High Falls Food Co-op in High Falls, NY.
We’re excited to share this story by Lucy Georgeff, General Manager at High Falls Food Co-op in New York State, on the NFCA and her participation as a member of the NFCA Board of Directors from their e-newsletter.

On May 9, I had the opportunity to spend the day in beautiful Shelburne Falls, MA at a board retreat for the Neighboring Food Co-op Association. NFCA, of which High Falls Food Co-op is a dues-paying member, is a co-operative federation of food co-ops across the Northeast whose stated purpose is to support the shared success and increase impact for our communities. We do this primarily through peer to peer networking and public engagement.

I joined the NFCA board in Spring of 2023 because I wanted to participate in this work on a deeper level. I believe that our longevity and value lies in our ability to co-operate, and that we can draw strength from the entire co-operative region, in addition to our High Falls Food Co-op community. 

The NFCA board is comprised of 9 regional co-op board members and management. NFCA staff include Erbin Crowell, executive director, and Suzette Snow-Cobb, associate director, both of whom have long and diverse careers in the co-operative field. The board meets monthly to review activities & financials, as well as plan for the association’s future. At our retreat in May, we reviewed board policies and discussed initiatives planned for the rest of the year as part of the overall strategic plan. 

The goals of the strategic plan that I am most excited about are about facilitating networking, collaboration and innovation, and providing education. Here in the store, we have used NFCA materials in developing our training programs on membership. NFCA hosts peer networking calls that have helped us develop our economic solidarity programs, helped our board understand their role and meet other food co-op board members, and helped department managers solve problems with each other’s help. I’m especially looking forward to a new group that is forming this year particularly for small food co-op networking. Sharing resources is one of the best ways to grow co-ops! The NFCA Annual Meeting, held each year in March in Greenfield, MA, is a fun day with breakout sessions and the chance to share ideas and inspiration with co-operatives from all over New England and New York.

To learn more about the good things happening at High Falls Food Co-op, visit their website


Co-operating Across Borders

NFCA Executive Director Erbin Crowell presenting in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.
In June, the NFCA joined Canadian co-operators for the National Congress of Co-operatives & Mutuals Canada and participated in a training on Co-operative Governance with the International Centre for Co-operative Management at Saint Mary’s University.  

“The 6th Principle of Co-operative Identity, ‘Co-operation among Co-ops,’ is not just about co-operatives being nice to each other,” said Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA) Executive Director Erbin Crowell.  “It is the recognition that we serve and empower our members most effectively and grow our movement by working together through secondary co-ops, federations, and associations to protect our core difference, influence government policy, and support shared business success.”

Crowell was speaking as part of a training on Co-operative Governance with the International Centre for Co-operative Management (ICCM) at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.  

Delivered in collaboration with Karen Miner, ICCM Managing Director, and Anne-Marie Merrien, Postdoctoral researcher and Lecturer (School of Management) with the Research and Education Institute for Cooperatives and Mutuals of the University of Sherbrooke, Québec, and facilitated by Erin Hancock, Education Manager for ICCM.  More that forty participants from across Canada, Africa, and around the world participated in presentations and dialogs on best governance practices, highlighting how strategic governance enables organizations to lead deeply on social justice, economic resilience, and the climate emergency, to name but a few challenges facing co-operatives today. A key message was that individual co-operatives cannot do this alone; working together and across sectors is key to our collective future.

The short course was offered in advance of the 2024 Congress of Co-operatives & Mutuals Canada, which Crowell attended as a representative of the Board of Directors of the National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA CLUSA) along with Doug O’Brien, President and CEO, and Esteban Kelly, chair of the Board and Executive Director of the US Federation of Worker Co-ops.  In addition to the opportunity for international networking, the gathering offered dialogs on innovation, economic inclusion, and climate change.  Many sessions focused on the relevance of the Co-operative Identity to the issues of our time.

“With so many challenges before us, and opportunities to empower people to create positive change, it’s as important as ever for co-operators to work together across our organizations, sectors, and borders,” said Crowell.  “It was an honor to be invited to the Co-operatives & Mutuals Canada Congress to learn from one another, share ideas, and look toward the International Year of Co-ops in 2025.”

For more information on degree programs and classes offered by the International Centre for Co-operative Management, visit https://ManagementStudies.coop.  


Partner Profile: National Cooperative Bank (NCB)

Your Choices Reflect Your Values. Your Bank Should Too.

National Cooperative Bank (NCB) has over 45 years of dedicated service to food co-ops and is committed to providing you with the best loan and deposit products to make your business thrive. Whether you would like to refinance your existing debt or plan for larger capital investments, NCB has loan options to meet your needs. Financing programs are available for new store development, acquisition, store remodels, equipment/infrastructure/technology, and energy efficiency upgrades.

NCB has been a long-time partner of the Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA) as we have worked together to grow the co-operative economy in the Northeast.

NCB is the One Source for All Your Banking Needs:

  • Acquisition and Expansion Financing.
  • Term Loans and Working Capital Lines of Credit.
  • Real Estate Loans
  • SBA Loans
  • Deposits
  • Full-Service Cash Management with Online and Mobile Banking
  • Personal Banking including deposits and online banking

For more information, visit www.ncb.coop or contact Dami Odetola at dodetola@ncb.coop.


Co-ops in the News

co-ops in the news logo
Has your co-op been in the news recently? Send your item to info@nfca.coop

July Cave-to-Co-op Special

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

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.

The Sound of Music has made “von Trapp” a household name across generations. The family didn’t traverse the Alps on foot with all their instruments, but they did leave Austria to tour around Europe and the United States, eventually settling in Stowe in the 1940s.


Werner and Erika von Trapp started the von Trapp Farm  in Waitsfield, Vermont in 1959. Erika (lovingly called Oma, like the cheese made in her honor) had studied agriculture in Austria and was a main force behind establishing and growing the farm.


Now over 60 years later, von Trapp Farmstead produces sustainably raised meat and dairy; live-culture yogurt, and award-winning artisan cheese from their own milk. Until his recent passing, Martin, one of Werner and Erika’s six children, and his wife Kelly operated the organic dairy. Now Martin and Kelly’s eldest son Sebastian and his wife Molly run both the farm and the cheesemaking side.

Savage is a pasteurized, organic cow milk cheese with a natural rind. This Alpine Style cheese is aged for one year and is named for Samuel S. Savage, who settled the von Trapp Farm in the 1700s. Check out this recipe, great for family or friends gatherings.

  • 2 cups grated Savage (about 8 oz.)
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature 2 tablespoons dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds (pepitas) and/or sunflower seeds
  1. Process Savage, cream cheese, wine, and thyme in a food processor until smooth; season with salt and pepper. Place cheese mixture on a piece of parchment paper or plastic wrap and use paper to shape into a ball; chill until firm, about 2 hours.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350°. Toast seeds on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing occasionally, until golden brown, 6–8 minutes. Let cool.
  3. Roll cheese ball in pumpkin and/or sunflower seeds. Let sit at room temperature 30 minutes before serving.
  4. DO AHEAD:Cheese ball (without seeds) can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled. Roll in seeds 30 minutes before serving.

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


New England Farmers Union: Farm, Food and National Security Act of 2024

Zoe Fox, NEFU Member, attended the National Farmers Union Advocacy and Leadership Training in Washington, DC
The House Agriculture Committee has approved the Farm Bill, and the Farmers Union is seeking further improvements before Farm, Food and National Security Act of 2024 comes to a vote in Congress.  You can help!

Family farmers, ranchers, and our communities not only need a farm bill now, but they also need the right farm bill now. Since 2017, approximately 150,000 farms have gone out of business. Farmers Union members from across the country have been in Washington, DC this spring to advocate for a strong farm bill that addresses the monopoly crisis in agriculture, bolsters the farm safety net, and helps family farmers and ranchers tackle climate change. 

One opportunity for engagement was through the National Farmers Union Advocacy Leadership Training held in DC.  Zoe Fox, New England Farmers Union Member participated, which included hearing from NFU President Rob Larew about the important role both historically and in recent events that leadership, and advocacy has had. Part of the training included valuable meeting time with Representatives as well.

“In April, I had the opportunity to attend the National Farmers Union Advocacy and Leadership Training in Washington, DC, as part of the New England Farmers Union’s collaboration with the Neighboring Food Co-op Association and CoBank on policy advocacy,” Zoe reported. “We learned valuable strategies and tips about communication and public speaking from Emily Oehler and were trained on board leadership for Co-operatives.  It is evident how much the National Farmers Union, along with state and regional chapters like New England Farmers Union, does to support its members in each of these areas, and I am honored to be even a small part of that.”

Zoe had the opportunity to meet with Representative Jim McGovern and his legislative assistant, John Swords, and Eleni Neyland, legislative assistant to Senator Ed Markey where she shared some priorities from New England, including farm succession and land transfer, responding to and preparing for extreme weather patterns, and the importance of USDA-NRCS programs.

How You Can Help:

  1. Reach out to your Representative in Congress and encourage them to act for a better farm bill by advocating for the above priorities.  Take action at this link.
  2. Share this story with your food co-op community and local farmers and in social media.
  3. Learn more about the National Farmers Union Spring 2024 Policy Priorities here.

You can make a difference: Join the Farmers UnionThe Neighboring Food Co-op Association is an affiliate member of the New England Farmers Union – and invites farmers, food co-ops, and consumers to join us!  NFCA Member Co-ops and individual members can join at a special discount.  The 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. For more information, please visit www.newenglandfarmersunion.org.


Upcoming Events