See you at CCMA! // NFCA News June 2024

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In this edition:

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We’re at CCMA!

The Neighboring Food Co-op Association is proud to be attending CCMA, the National Conference for Food Co-ops, gathering in Portland, ME, this week with co-operators from across the country

Are you at CCMA, too?  Stop by our exhibit table to learn more about what we do and pick up some co-op goodies while they last!

What we Do:

Food Co-ops make a difference every day, empowering people from all walks of life to work together to improve access to healthy, affordable food, support local producers, and build stronger, more resilient and sustainable communities. We are telling our stories, increasing our impact, and communicating our difference.

Rooted in the Co-operative Values of mutual Self-Help and Self-Responsibility, Food Co-ops enable people to work together to access healthy, nutritious food, support local producers, and build stronger, more sustainable and inclusive communities.  Together, we are growing our co-ops and building shared success.

Education, Training & Information” is a basic Principle of the International Co-operative Movement, equipping people to transform their lives, communities, and the economy around us. We’re providing opportunities for learning and action to support successful Food Co-ops.

Our vision is of a Co-operative Economy, rooted in a more healthy, just and sustainable food system. We’re working together to leverage the shared purchasing power our Food Co-ops to create change.

National policy influences our regional farm and food system – and the wider economy. We’re working together with partners to strengthen our democracy and influence the policies that affect us all.

The Co-operative Economy is much bigger than you may think – and its potential is even greater. We know that the best way to increase our impact is by working together.

Running a small Food Co-op or getting a new one off the ground is both rewarding and challenging.  We’re working together to support the shared success of our co-operatives.

Photo of CCMA 2024 Host Committee with John Crane, General Manager, Portland Food Co-op and NFCA Board President.

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.”

Celebrated worldwide for more than a century and officially proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly on the centenary of the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) in 1995, the International Day of Co-operatives is commemorated annually on the first Saturday of July.

The theme for this year’s celebrations, “Co-operatives Building a Better Future for All,” offers the opportunity for food co-ops and other co-operative enterprises to showcase their contributions to building a more equitable and inclusive future, and to the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) by 2030.  The day will also build momentum toward the second International Year of Co-operatives in 2025, which was declared by the UN last fall.

Here in the Northeast U.S., the Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA) and its member co-ops are spreading the word: When you shop at your local food co-op, you’ll not only find good food, you’re also Building a Better Future for All by supporting…

  • Local Food Systems. The NFCA’s annual impact survey found that on average, more than 25% of sales at our member co-ops were local products, supporting small producers and building more resilient communities.
  • Food Security. When you shop at your co-op, you’re making healthy, affordable food more accessible to everyone in your community, and ensuring reliable markets for local farmers and producers.
  • Good Jobs. You’re supporting more sustainable jobs and better wages for employees. 60% of co-op staff are also members, sharing in the ownership of their grocery store.
  • Sustainability. Your consumer dollars support family farming, organic agriculture, reduced packaging, and a business model based on meeting people’s needs rather than maximizing profits.
  • A More Inclusive Economy. Your Neighboring Food Co-ops are jointly owned and democratically governed by 185,000 members — people like you who are working together to build a better food system and economy that works for everyone.

Guided by shared Values and Principles, co-operative enterprises contribute to economic, social, and environmental sustainability across the economy and around the world. From farmer co-ops to food co-ops, worker co-ops to credit unions, housing co-ops to mutual insurance, co-operative businesses strengthen communities, enhance local resources, advocate for social responsibility, and promote sustainable business practices based on long-term well-being rather than short-term profits.

International #CoopsDay is an opportunity to learn more about the co-operative movement, and how your local food co-op is working to build a better future for all.

For more information on International #CoopsDay, visit

White House Visit

The Neighboring Food Co-op Association was at the White House in May as part of our effort to support greater awareness of the impact of co-operatives among policymakers.   

In a conversation that illustrated both the potential and existing impact of the co-operative business model and spanned sectors from finance and food to housing and worker co-ops, NCBA CLUSA board members raised the co-op flag during a May 7 meeting with senior White House officials on how the co-operative ecosystem can engage with and support the Biden Administration’s priorities.

For example, in Morgantown, West Virginia—a 45-minute drive from Asheville—an innovation hub called The Industrial Commons is rebuilding a diverse working class based on locally-rooted wealth. Partnering with textile co-operatives, other employee-owned businesses and local research institutions, The Industrial Commons is leading the broader textile industry’s embrace of recycled and repurposed materials while providing high quality, well-paying jobs and kickstarting American manufacturing in the region.

Thanks to advocacy efforts by NCBA CLUSA and the U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives (USFWC) that ensured co-ops were eligible for the Biden Administration’s CHIPS and Science Act, the Industrial Commons won a grant to drive advances in smart textiles, wearable technology and other innovations.

Stories like this one are exactly what the Administration wants to hear, said Kelliann Blazek, Special Assistant to the President for Rural and Agriculture Policy in the Domestic Policy Council; and Will McIntee, Director of Strategic Engagement in the Office of Public Engagement. Blazek and McIntee were joined by Laurie Schoeman, Senior Policy Advisor for Housing and Urban Policy in the Domestic Policy Council; and Kate Balcerzak, Director of Private Sector Engagement in the Office of Public Engagement.

“Our focus right now is lifting up the success stories, but also lifting up opportunities for communities to access resources from the federal government,” McIntee said. “We want to make sure that communities that have historically been left out of these opportunities are really in the driver’s seat going forward.”

In the retail food and agriculture sector, grocery co-op impact is growing. “Because they are rooted in their communities, food co-ops are economic engines for local economies,” said Erbin Crowell, Executive Director of the Neighboring Food Co-op Association and a member of the NCBA CLUSA Board of Directors. On average, local products make up 25 percent of sales at member co-ops, compared to just 2-5 percent at grocery chains, he added. Still, food co-ops face challenges complying with the requirements of SNAP, WIC and other federally funded nutrition programs. “But by working together, they’ve created Healthy Food Access programs that provide discounts to people who qualify for food assistance,” Crowell said.

LaDonna Sanders Redmond, a DEI consultant with Columinate with deep experience in the retail food and agriculture industry, amplified the need for food co-ops to recoup the discounts they offer customers. “With the market share being as tight as it is, co-ops can’t really compete with Whole Foods or major grocery chains. But the advantage they do have is they can sink deeply into a community and impact that community in ways that don’t cause gentrification,” Sanders Redmond said. And that’s something worth investing in.

It’s a challenge, McIntee agreed. “How do you build a food system that provides healthy, nutritious food to people regardless of their zip code while also bringing wealth to those who grow and produce that food and provide opportunities—especially for younger folks who are entering the agricultural field?” All of the White House officials reiterated that closer partnership between co-op advocates and the Biden Administration can help surface solutions moving forward.

Christina Jennings, Executive Director of Shared Capital Cooperative, a national CDFI loan fund that connects co-ops and capital to build economic democracy, shared how her co-op empowered a group of immigrant and refugee business owners. Against a backdrop of absentee landlords and investor owners in commercial real estate, these women embodied a growing desire for community ownership of real estate. “Just this past year, we provided a loan together with a CDFI to help them purchase a strip mall in suburban Minneapolis-St Paul where they live. They also got some state funding—resources that were passed on by the federal government—that were critical in making that happen,” Jennings said.

There are similar opportunities to leverage existing federal funding—or advocate for more—in other sectors. NCBA CLUSA member ROC USA® is leading efforts to transfer ownership of manufactured home communities to their residents. “That sector is one of the most notorious for private equity coming in and just extracting whatever value they can,” said NCBA CLUSA president and CEO Doug O’Brien, adding that ROC USA recently received a HUD grant to accelerate their work.

Sylandi Brown, Communications Manager for the U.S. Overseas Cooperative Development Council, shared remarks informed by her work with a rural electric cooperative serving 4,800 members in central Georgia. There, access to broadband remains a huge challenge; students often drive to distant parking lots with insecure public Wi-Fi to do their homework, she said. Some rural electric cooperatives are told they need to wait for more federal funding for broadband; meanwhile, “our communities can’t wait,” Brown said.

At the same time, the co-operative business model is resonating with younger generations, she added, leaving White House officials with a challenge: “What we see is that co-op businesses are really attracting this new generation in a unique way. How can we ensure that [co-op] initiatives not only take root, but also flourish in the diverse and dynamic environment of our rural communities?”

This story is adapted from an article in NCBA CLUSA’s Co-op Weekly.  For more information about the shared impact of your Neighboring Food Co-ops, visit

North Country Food Co-op

The Neighboring Food Co-op Association is proud to welcome North Country Food Co-op as a new member in May! 

We are excited to welcome North Country Food Co-op in Plattsburg, NY, as our newest member of the Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA)!  

“North Country Food Co-op staff and board members have jumped right into our Peer Dialogs.” said Suzette Snow-Cobb, NFCA Associate Director.  “It is terrific to have their participation, sharing their experience and connecting with other co-ops.”

Founded in 1974 as a buying club, North Country celebrates its 50th anniversary of operation this year.  In 1995, the co-op moved to its current location in downtown Plattsburg. With a focus on local and organic, and an extensive bulk department, the storefront has become a vital downtown business as well as a community gathering spot.

At their Annual Meeting last month, they hosted a plant swap and as the growing season gets going in northern New York state are anticipating the increase of local produce offerings on their shelves.

“Reaching our 50th year in operation, the North Country Food Co-op remains one of the few retail food co-ops in New York’s north country. As a ‘small medium’ sized establishment, one of the best things we can do to grow, learn, and shape our environment is to join larger co-operative networks available in our region.” said Stephen Belcher, Operations Manager for North Country.  “We are grateful to have this opportunity provided to us by the Neighboring Food Co-op Association, and look forward to learning from the skills of other food co-ops as well as to offering our own unique insights and experiences to the rest of the network.” 

Please join us in welcoming North Country Food Co-op to our community of Neighboring Food Co-ops and visit their website at

Partner Profile: DotCooperation

We aim to unite and empower co-operatives online – our mission, our singular goal that drives everything we do.

Since 2001, DotCooperation has united the co-operative community through a shared online identity where co-operative organizations can participate, inform, educate, and pioneer a path for others to join and support the global co-operative network. 

As we look toward the second International Year of Co-ops in 2025, Neighboring Food Co-op Association members can take advantage of a special promotional offer in partnership with Domains.Coop.  Get started with one free year on a new .Coop domain name and be part of the global celebration!  Use the promotion code “NFCA24” when you checkout at

Every co-operative that uses a .coop domain name as the primary address for their website elevates their Co-operative Identity, principles, and purpose.  It unites the co-operative movement online with a shared identity.  It transforms an organization’s value from a lone contributor to an active participant of a global online community of co-operatives.  And it puts your co-op on the map at .Coop’s Global Directory.

DotCooperation empowers co-operatives to participate and thrive in the digital economy with identity tools and resources. Identity tools include .Coop and .CreditUnion sector domain names, plus the Cooperative Marque.  Resources include the .Coop Global Directory and the platform.

Why not see what fantastic names are still available? Unlike other domains, .Coop has a wealth of valuable options still available only to co-operative business.  Use “NFCA24” at  Terms and Conditions apply, offer open until December 1, 2024.  Please email for any comments, queries or feedback.  Thank you for supporting the online home of co-operatives.

DotCooperation is jointly owned by the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) and NCBA CLUSA (National Cooperative Business Association-CLUSA International).  For more information, please visit  

Co-ops in the News

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June Cave-to-Co-op Special

This month’s special cheese is Rupert from Consider Bardwell Farm, West Pawlet, 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.

Consider Bardwell Farm in West Pawlet, Vermont is a producer of award-winning handmade cheese. Spanning the rolling hills of Vermont’s Champlain Valley and easternmost Washington County, New York, 300-acre Consider Bardwell Farm was the first cheese-making co-op in Vermont, founded in 1864 by Consider Stebbins Bardwell himself.

In the late 1860s, the farm changed hands. The Nelsonville Cheese Factory purchased the property, where they continued the same service that Bardwell had started until the late 1930s, when the Great Depression brought it all crashing down.

A century later, Angela Miller and Russell Glover, with the help of cheesemaker Peter Dixon, revitalized the tradition of cheesemaking on the farm. After years of both accolades and challenges – today’s line up of cheeses are made using the milk from neighboring Indian River Farm to craft cheeses that are both friendly enough for everyone but nuanced enough for the discerning palate.

Rupert is a regal whale of a wheel of cheese from Consider Bardwell Farm. Each 35-pound wheel of Rupert is stamped with a whale shape as well as the batch number when the curds are being pressed, no doubt an homage to its grandeur and heft. The cheese is a dense, fruity, butterscotchy, and nutty experience, with a well-honed flavor profile that extends on the palate long after the last bite. The wheels are aged for a minimum of nine months to ensure the development of the cheese’s dignified, lingering flavor.

Check out this recipe using Consider Bardwell Farm’s featured cheese this month and in past months: January 2023 and January 2022.

Jalapeño-Rupert Beer Bread

Image sourced from Curly Girl Kitchen

Makes 1 loaf

  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 fresh jalapeños, seeded and chopped
  • 1 cup shredded Rupert (about 4 oz)
  • One 12-ounce can or bottle lager, pilsner or IPA-style beer, at room temperature 1 fresh jalapeño, seeded and thinly sliced into rounds
  1. Preheat oven to 375° F. Brush an 8-by-4-by-2 1/2-inch loaf pan with some of the melted butter.
  2. Whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, garlic powder, sugar, chopped jalapeños and 1⁄2 cup Rupert in a large bowl.
  3. Pour the beer into a medium bowl. Add half of the remaining butter and whisk together.
  4. Pour the beer-butter mixture into the flour mixture and fold until just combined, until the batter is thick and shaggy. Transfer to the prepared loaf pan, smoothing the top evenly. Pour the remaining butter over the batter and top with the remaining Rupert and the jalapeño slices.
  5. Bake until a toothpick inserted comes out clean and the top is golden brown, 50-60 minutes.
  6. Let cool in the pan on a rack for about 15 minutes. Invert the bread out of the pan and eat warm or at room temperature, with or without a pat of butter.

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: Farm, Food and National Security Act of 2024

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!

National Farmers Union (NFU) President Rob Larew issued the following statement after the passage of the Farm, Food and National Security Act of 2024 out of the House Agriculture Committee on May 24:

“A successful farm bill needs broad bipartisan support. We applaud today’s progress, but we know that significant improvements will be needed to advance this bill,” said Larew.  “H.R. 8467 includes a number of Farmers Union priorities, but those positive steps can’t come at the cost of the broad support that’s needed to pass a bill on the House floor.  We look forward to further activity in the farm bill process and will continue to advocate for family farmers and ranchers as the Senate Agriculture Committee develops its draft.” 

At the NFU Convention held in March 2024, delegates approved a special order of business outlining the organization’s priorities for the 2024 Farm Bill, including:

  • Advancing NFU’s Fairness for Farmers campaign priorities focused on increasing competition in the marketplace.
  • Maintaining and improving the farm safety net.
  • Strengthening conservation programs and expanding renewable energy opportunities.
  • Expanding and enhancing permanent disaster assistance programs, and
  • Strengthening the dairy safety net.

In addition, we want to encourage Congress to strengthen the Rural Cooperative Development Grant program, support food security for all in need, and ensure that co-operative grocery stores can fully participate in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) programs, making healthy, local food available to more people.

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. Join the Farmers Union and strengthen the voice of Northeast farm and food system in DC!  NFCA food co-ops and their members can join at a special discount. 

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

Upcoming Events

See you at the Green River Festival!

Join us as we fly the Co-op Flag at the Green River Festival, June 21-24, in Greenfield, MA!