E-News // See You at CCMA! // May 2016

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



See You Next Month at CCMA, The National Food Co-op Conference!

The 60th Annual Consumer Cooperatives Management Association Conference is just two weeks away! This year’s conference, June 9 – 11 at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, is co-hosted by the member co-ops of the Neighboring Food Co-op Association, with Franklin Community Co-op and River Valley Co-op as primary local hosts. In addition to dozens of inspiring and thought-provoking sessions, workshops and keynotes, conference attendees will have the opportunity to tour the region’s vibrant co-op culture. 

The Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA) is proud to welcome the national food co-op community to a unique part of New England its members refer to as “Co-op Valley.” In collaboration with NFCA member co-ops Brattleboro Food Co-op, Franklin Community Co-op and River Valley Co-op, along with partners at Valley Alliance of Worker Co-ops, NFCA has put together a series of bus tours so you can enjoy the scenery while you get to know some of the region’s co-op businesses & organizations: https://nfca.coop/ccma2016tours

Are you a bocce fanatic? Love local food and drink? Great music? How about connecting with all your favorite co-operators from across the country? Then you’ll love CCMA’s Saturday Night Closing Party, June 11, 2016 from 6:00pm – 9:00pm, at the Fine Arts Center at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, MA in the heart of “Co-op Valley!”

Not an NCBA CLUSA member yet? Join today and benefit from the member discount on conference registration. Email NCBA CLUSA Director of Member Relations Thomas Bowen at tbowen@ncba.coop for details.

The 2016 CCMA Conference will challenge and inspire food sector leadership to address diversity and inclusion and make the case for a radical shift in thinking for food co-ops to differentiate themselves in an increasingly competitive natural foods marketplace. Session tracks include:

  • Strategies for Outdistancing the Competition
  • Succession Planning and Leadership Development
  • 2020 and Beyond: New Approaches to Co-operation
  • Participatory Governance for Success
  • Financing the Co-op Future
  • Social, Economic and Racial Diversity

The town of Amherst, our conference site for 2016, is nestled in the heart of “Co-op Valley” in Western Massachusetts. The region is home to our local host food co-ops, NFCA members Franklin Community Co-op and River Valley Co-op, as well as a diverse community of co-operatives and credit unions that reaches across sectors, many of which are working together to grow the co-operative economy.  The University of Massachusetts, Amherst, is also home to a system of student-run co-operative businesses and the Department of Economics offers an undergraduate Certificate in Applied Research in Co-operative Enterprises, in collaboration with the NFCA and the Valley Alliance of Worker Co-ops.  The Campus Center is named for Murray Lincoln, UMASS alum, founder of Nationwide Insurance (a mutual enterprise), and member of the Co-operative Hall of Fame; and the campus library is named for W.E.B. DuBois, African American Scholar, co-founder of the NAACP and promoter of co-operative enterprise as a tool for economic empowerment.

We look forward to seeing you in Western Massachusetts in just a couple weeks!


Start-up Workshop Day a Success!

Over 40 co-operators from 11 start-up food co-ops across New England gathered for Neighboring Food Co-op Association’s New England Startup Workshop Day on Saturday, May 7th in Keene, NH, hosted by the Monadnock Food Co-op.

Jacqueline Hannah (Food Co-op Initiative) and Michael Faber (Monadnock Food Co-op) helped NFCA put together a packed day full of shared peer-to-peer learning, case studies, and workshops covering many pressing issues for start-ups.

“We appreciate the peer support that member co-ops–like Monadnock Food Co-op–are providing to their neighboring start-ups. Fostering this peer support is core to our mission,” said Bonnie Hudspeth, Member Programs Manager of NFCA.  “We also really value our collaboration with Food Co-op Initiative in supporting the success of the next wave of food co-ops in our region.”

“The NFCA is doing some of the best regional work in the nation right now to support food co-op startups through peer learning and sharing of resources,” said Jacqueline Hannah, Food Co-op Development Specialist with Food Co-op Initiative. “There is a unique level of peer startup information sharing and networking happening in the northeast, and it’s clear that the direct support of mature co-ops through mentorship and their membership in NFCA are playing a huge role in this. Thank you to both Monadnock Food Co-op and the NFCA for inviting us to be a part of this event!”

Michael Faber, General Manager of Monadnock Food Co-op added, “I can’t think of anything that was more helpful to us in our startup phase than the resources and council we received from both industry experts and nearby established food co-ops.  We are committed to ensure that current and future start-ups have the same access to support the success of their projects.”

Thanks to our friends at Cabot Creamery Co-operative and Equal Exchange for helping to nourish participants, and to the awesome deli team at Monadnock Food Co-op for lunch. And, thanks to all the start-ups for rolling up their sleeves and doing the hard work to meet their communities’ needs!

Want some inspiration for growing our co-op economy?  Check out these photos on NFCA’s Facebook pagehttp://s.coop/nfcastartupday2016

We posted presentations from the day, including a Case Study of Monadnock Food Co-op, Why (Some) Start-ups Fail, Planning for Membership Growth and more on our website: https://nfca.coop/nfcastartupday2016

Let’s grow co-ops!


Welcome Portland Food Co-op!

logo.PortlandFoodCoop.pngThe Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA) is proud to welcome Portland Food Co-op in Portland, ME, as its newest member! The Co-op held its grand opening on December 10, 2014, making it one of the youngest food co-ops in New England.

“After attending two NFCA events, I knew that this was an association that we wanted to join,” said John Crane, General Manager.  “We already appreciate the collaboration, sharing of ideas and networking that have been provided and look forward to more in the future.”

The momentum for the Portland Food Co-op started in 2006 in response to the closure of the only locally-owned natural foods store in the city. Community members organized several meetings to create a shared vision for a co-operative grocery store. Now, with more than 3,600 Member-Owners and first year sales of $3 million, the Co-op has already become the “go to” place to find local foods in the Greater Portland area.

“We’re so excited to have Portland Food Co-op join the NFCA,” said Erbin Crowell, Executive Director. “Across our region, food co-ops are working together to support our shared success, and Portland Food Co-op is a model for the kind of collaboration that is growing our movement.”

The NFCA includes over 35 food co-ops and start-ups across New England that are working together toward a vision a thriving co-operative economy, rooted in a healthy, just and sustainable food system and a vibrant community of co-operative enterprise. For a map of your Neighboring Food Co-ops, please visit https://nfca.coop/members


Co-op Education: UMASS Course Wraps Up!

As the semester came to a close at colleges and universities across the country, something unique was happening at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst: 150 undergraduates were turning in their final papers for “Introduction to the Co-operative Movement,” a course being offered by the Economics Department and presented by adjunct lecturer Erbin Crowell, Executive Director of the Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA).

Central to the theme of the course is that the co-operative movement is a relevant topic of study because of its scale (more than a billion people are members of co-ops worldwide); its relevance to contemporary issues such as the global recession, sustainability, and equality; its flexibility (co-ops operate in nearly all sectors of the of the economy); and its unique history, philosophy and structure as a member-owned, democratically governed enterprise. For all of these reasons, students should be able to learn about the model as part of a deeper understanding of the world: both as it is, and as it could be in the future.

For their last assignment, students were asked to focus on the basic question of the relevance of the co-operative business model to the challenges and opportunities in contemporary society. Paper topics ranged from the lessons of co-operative complexes such as Mondragón and Emilia Romagna, Italy, to our own region, the potential for co-operatively owned sports teams in the US, and how the co-operative business model could be applied to the “sharing economy” and corporations such as Uber.

“The course gave me a better understanding of how co-ops offer solutions that I would not have imagined possible to the issues that I have been studying as a sociology major,” said Laresa Wood. In her final paper, Wood explored the relevance of food co-ops to food security in low income communities. A graduating senior, she has recently taken a job as a case worker in Greenfield, MA. “I believe that co-ops can be useful to families in difficult financial situations and want to explore how they could be integrated into the services offered.”

The course, which draws students from across disciplines, is part of the NFCA’s wider effort to expand educational opportunities on co-operative business. Working in collaboration with partners such as the UMASS Economics Department and the Valley Alliance of Worker Co-ops, the NFCA has helped develop a Certificate in Applied Research in Co-operative Enterprise, which includes internship opportunities with nearby co-ops.

“We’re particularly excited by the number of interns participating in the co-operative certificate this summer,” said Crowell. “There is clearly an interest among students in the co-operative movement and we’re proud that the Neighboring Food Co-op Association is investing in the next generation of co-operative leaders.”

To view slides from the first week of the course, please visit: https://nfca.coop/coopdifference


Farm to Freezer Blueberry Recipes

As we navigate the changing weather patterns and the cold, wet days of spring, we can get restless waiting for the local fruits and veggies in our region.  A solution?  Serve up some Farm to Freezer, regionally grown frozen fruits and vegetables from your local food co-op!

Next time you are planning a dessert, why not wow them with “Kay’s Famous Farm to Freezer Lemon Lavender Blueberry Sauce” or “Best Blueberry Pie” made from delicious highbush blueberries grown right here in the Northeast? Here are a couple of recipes to try, offered by Kay Litten, Board Member of Hanover Consumer Co-op and the NFCA: https://nfca.coop/blueberryrecipe

The NFCA’s Northeast Grown Frozen Fruits & Vegetables – including Blueberries, Organic Broccoli, Organic Edamame, Organic Green Beans and non-GMO Sweet Corm – are easy to find in our freezer section of your Neighboring Food Co-ops: They’re packed with a simple black and white label in a clear package so you can see what’s inside.


May’s Local Artisan Cheese – “CRAWFORD”

Have you noticed the “Cave to Co-op” signs in the cheese section of your local food co-op? The project is a partnership between Provisions International and the Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA) to support artisanal cheese producers in our region and make their products more easily available to co-op shoppers. Each month, a delicious local cheese is featured at a great price.

May’s “Cave to Co-op” special artisan cheese is “Crawford” from Twig Farm in West Cornwall, VT.  Crawford is a semi-soft cheese made from raw cow’s milk and it has a rich, sweet, milky flavor, with a hint of tanginess with grassy and earthy tones.

Find out more and get some recipes: https://nfca.coop/CaveToCo-opMay2016

For more information on the program, please visit www.nfca.coop/CaveToCo-op.


 Farmers Union: Opposition to the TPP Grows 

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has become a divisive issue in the nation’s capital, and criticism intensified after 161 food, farm, faith and rural organizations, including the New England Farmers Union and the Neighboring Food Co-op Association, sent a letter to Capitol Hill in April, urging lawmakers to reject the trade pact.

“The main beneficiaries of the TPP are the companies that buy, process and ship raw agricultural commodities, not the farmers who face real risks from rising import competition. TPP imports will compete against U.S. farmers who are facing declining farm prices that are projected to stay low for years,” the organizations wrote. Signers to the letter also included Farm Aid, the Federation of Southern Co-operatives, Northeast Organic Farming Association, Real Pickles Co-operative, Rural Vermont, the Valley Alliance of Worker Co-operatives, and New England Food Co-ops including Buffalo Mountain Co-op (VT), Franklin Community Co-op (MA), Middlebury Natural Foods Co-op (VT), Monadnock Food Co-op (NH), and Willimantic Food Co-op (CT).

The White House has promoted the TPP as an export-boon for farmers to generate support for the agreement, but past trade agreements have not always delivered on export promises, the letter noted. For example, the United States’ total combined exports of corn, soybeans and wheat have remained steady at about 100 million metric tons for the last 30 years despite a raft of free trade agreements since the mid-1990s.

“Trade deals do not just add new export markets – the flow of trade goes both ways – and the U.S. has committed to allowing significantly greater market access to imports under the TPP,” the groups explained. Especially “alarming” to the organizations is the agreement’s complete lack of enforceable provisions against currency manipulation, a substantial cause of America’s debilitating $531 billion trade imbalance.

New England Farmers Union President Roger Noonan stated, “Unfortunately, the TPP is not just about market access for U.S. producers – we also give up market access to other countries. That access has resulted in falling prices in fruits and vegetables that undercuts family farmers and their livelihoods.”

Across the country and in New England, consumers are more interested in knowing where their food comes from and what it contains. Farmers and eaters have banded together to rebuild local food economies through farmers markets, community supported agriculture and neighborhood co-ops. The TPP investment and procurement rules can facilitate foreign ownership of farmland and food industries and the procurement rules could ultimately be used to unravel domestic and local farm purchasing programs.

“Food co-ops dedicate substantial purchasing power to buying from family farmers in our region because our shoppers care about where their food comes from,” said Erbin Crowell, Executive Director of the Neighboring Food Co-op Association, a federation 35 food co-ops across New England. “They want their food dollars to both nourish their families and support healthy, just and sustainable food systems and strong local economies. We are concerned that the TPP will undermine these efforts, and the livelihoods of our farmer partners.”

The TPP also covers important agricultural policy areas such as labeling, food safety, animal health and crop disease. The stringent rules and dispute system under the TPP make it easier to successfully challenge and overturn domestic laws, as happened last year to country of origin meat labels.

“Farmers know that the Trans-Pacific Partnership will weaken environmental, health and food safety protections, and depress farm prices,” said Alicia Harvie Advocacy & Issues Director at Farm Aid. “For eaters, the recent repeal of Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) is an example of how corporate-written trade deals deny transparency and erode local food systems. The bottom line for farmers and eaters is that the TPP will strengthen the stranglehold of corporate agribusiness over our food system – here in Massachusetts, across the United States and abroad.”

Read the letter and complete list of signers here

Want to strengthen the voice of New England’s farmers and fishermen in DC? Become a Friend of the Farmer: Join the New England Farmers Union today!

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



Neighboring Food Co-op Association’s EVENTS calendar:



June 9-11th 2016: 60th CCMA – The National Food Co-op Conference, Amherst, MA


Hosted by the Neighboring Food Co-op Association in Amherst, MA, the 2016 CCMA Conference will challenge and inspire food sector leadership to address diversity and inclusion and make the case for a radical shift in thinking for food co-ops to differentiate themselves in an increasingly competitive natural foods marketplace.


July 2nd 2016: International Day of Co-operatives


Celebrated on the first Saturday in July since 1923, this year’s theme is “Co-operatives: The Power to Act for a Sustainable Future,” a nod of support to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. On the 2016 Day let us speak out loud, on the value of co-operatives’ unique approach to sustainable economic, social and environmental development.


August 12-14, 2016: NOFA Summer Conference, UMass, Amherst, MA


Cultivating The Organic Grassroots Movement. The Northeast Organic Farming Association’s Summer Conference is the community learning hub of the NOFA universe. We learn, we play, and we enjoy a weekend of skill building, inspiration and entertainment. It is our opportunity to get together and inspire one another during a family friendly weekend with people living the same lifestyle, holding the same vision and working respectively in many ways toward the same goals.


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