Co-op E-News & Updates // Supporting the Next Generation of Co-ops // May 2017 Neighboring Food Co-ops:


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Start-up Day Fuels Next Generation of Co-ops

Start-up Organizers Gather for Peer Learning 

Start-Up Organizers at NFCA’s 2017 Northeast Start-up Workshop Day

On Saturday, May 6th, over 30 organizers representing 12 Start-Up Food Co-ops across the Northeast gathered for the Neighboring Food Co-op Association‘s (NFCA) Second Annual Start-Up Workshop Day, organized in collaboration with Food Co-op Initiative (FCI) and hosted by Monadnock Food Co-op in Keene, NH.

“The progress of NFCA Start-Ups since our first event last year has been impressive,” said Bonnie Hudspeth, Member Programs Manager for the NFCA.  “Between these gatherings and our monthly peer networking calls with FCI, we are seeing exciting momentum and increased use of best development practices among Start-Ups in our region.  This, with the ongoing support and cheerleading from existing food co-ops like Monadnock Food Co-op, is creating a layered system to support the success of the next generation of co-ops in our region.”

Hudspeth worked in collaboration with Jacqueline Hannah, Assistant Director of FCI, to plan and deliver a day packed full of shared peer-to-peer learning, case studies, and workshops covering many pressing issues for the successful launch of new food co-ops.

“I continue to be wowed by the level of innovative Start-Up support happening in the Northeast under NFCA’s leadership,” said Hannah. “We learn from their work and borrow their ideas to spread them nationally, like the powerful monthly peer call support system created by NFCA, which I’ve watched transform startup projects by leveraging minimal resources strategically. At the same time, NFCA is always the first to adapt effective new Start-Up support tools created in other regions, like the Illinois Startup Workshop Day, which they’ve now been running their own version of for two years with the support of Monadnock Food Co-op.”

Michael Faber, General Manager of Monadnock Food Co-op added, “Start-Up food co-ops are alive and well in New England – just look at the most recent co-ops to open in our region: River Valley Co-op in Massachusetts, and Littleton Food Co-op and Monadnock Food Co-op in New Hampshire.  I am so grateful to have NFCA taking a proactive role by hosting an annual workshop day to continue to support this movement and strengthen our regional food co-op economy.”

Siobain Mitchell, Board President of Assabet Village Co-op Market presented on Board Development to her peers.  “The Northeast Start-up Workshop Days have been of tremendous value to Assabet,” Mitchell said.  “They provide in-depth coverage of the topics that are most relevant to us as we progress through our development. What’s more, they provide an opportunity for start-up organizers to develop relationships and learn from one another. I’m so glad the NFCA is making this an annual event.”

Attendees also heard case studies from Start-Up organizers including Darnell Adams of Dorchester Food Co-op and Philip Trevvett of Urban Greens Co-op, and Heather Wright of Wright Jones PLC on planning for hiring staff as your co-op looks toward opening day.

Thanks to our friends at Equal Exchange for helping to nourish participants, and to the awesome deli team at Monadnock Food Co-op for providing lunch.

Here’s to the next generation of start-ups organizers 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 page:


Thanks to CoBank for their support of our Neighboring Food Co-ops

Co-ops Poised to Grow Inclusive Economy 

Survey Engages Co-ops in NCBA CLUSA Visioning

Based on the results of NCBA CLUSA‘s recent survey of its membership, co-operatives nationwide are active partners in building a more equitable, participatory, growing, sustainable, and stable economy.  These factors, according to a recent report from the Rockefeller Foundation, are integral to creating an inclusive economy.

Close to 100 NCBA CLUSA members participated
in this year’s Annual Membership Meeting.

Unveiled during this week’s Annual Membership Meeting & Virtual Town Hall, the survey results inform a current effort by NCBA CLUSA to determine a “force for good,” or rallying point, that would unite the co-operative movement’s 100 million+ members in the U.S. in advancing NCBA CLUSA’s 100-year legacy of supporting co-operatives that build a better world.

One idea gaining traction is co-ops and the inclusive economy. The Rockefeller Foundation report, which helped frame the survey, defines the inclusive economy as one that provides, “expanded opportunity for more broadly shared prosperity, especially for those facing the greatest barriers to advancing their well-being.”

“That definition immediately rings a bell for what co-ops are here to do,” said Erbin Crowell, chair of the NCBA CLUSA Board of Directors’ Strategic Task Force II and Executive Director of the Neighboring Food Co-op Association.

“It moved the conversation from how we could tackle economic insecurity to how we could include people and empower them to provide economic security for themselves,” Crowell told the close to 100 NCBA CLUSA members who attended the May 2 meeting either in person or – for the first time – virtually.

This idea also seemed to resonate with NCBA CLUSA members nationwide who are already contributing to a more inclusive economy. A majority (68 percent) said they build a more equitable economy by offering “fairness and equity in ownership.” The second most popular answers-each garnering more than 50 percent-were “offer fair access and equity in ownership/control to a broad community” and “offer upward mobility.”

On contributing to a more participatory economy, more than 70 percent of respondents said their co-ops help people “access/participate in markets as workers, consumers and business owners.” They also cited access to ownership and equal participation in governance as factors.

NCBA CLUSA members are also focused on growing a more inclusive economy. More than 74 percent said “democratic control based on one person/one vote rather than ownership of capital” was the biggest contributor to growth. Opportunities for good jobs and member-ownership also factored high.

A resounding 84 percent of respondents said they contribute to a more sustainable economy by “prioritizing service to members over maximization of profit.” Regarding a more stable economy, answers were split fairly evenly between the choices (of which respondents could select more than one), but “collaborating with other co-op sectors for a more integrated and community-owned economy” edged out at 68 percent.

Using this information, NCBA CLUSA will continue to hone its vision, narrowing the best opportunities it has to make the most impact going forward. There’s also work to be done in raising the profile of cooperatives within the broader inclusive economy movement.

“People don’t necessarily recognize co-ops in the way we see them contributing, and we often have to connect the dots,” Crowell said. “In many ways, that’s an affirming process. We can see what other people prioritize and identify and amplify the role we already play there.”

(This article was reprinted from NCBA CLUSA’s “Co-op Weekly,” May 3, 2017.)


Thanks to Dorsey & Whitney LLP for their support of our Neighboring Food Co-ops.

Brattleboro’s Co-op: Designed For Community

Brattleboro Food Co-op Plaza Featured in Upcoming Book

The intentional, community-led design of Brattleboro Food Co-op‘s plaza is featured in Philip Langdon‘s new book, Within Walking Distance: Creating Livable Communities for All, out May 16, 2017, which looks at six walkable communities, including Brattleboro, Vermont.

Sited at the town’s major intersection, the Co-op Plaza caps the end of Brattleboro’s vibrant, four-story downtown presence at its most visible point. Every aspect of this site was developed with the local community in mind.  The first floor houses the Brattleboro Co-op and outdoor cafe, while the second floor is occupied with office space and the commissary kitchen, as well as a pocket park open to the public and the residents of the third and fourth floor housing. This design has led to a building that Co-op General Manager Sabine Rhyne describes as a microcosm of [the] community” itself.

The co-op plaza was designed by gbA Architecture & Planning. This new book is not the first time the design of the Brattleboro Co-op Plaza has garnered attention. The site has received numerous state and national awards for both architecture and sustainability, including the AIA Vermont Excellence in Architecture Award (2015), the AIA/HUD Secretary’s Award for Creating Community Connection (2015), and the EPA’s National Award for Smart Growth Achievement (2012).


“Cave to Co-op” Local Artisan Cheese

May’s Local Artisan Cheese: “Hi-Land Chèvre”

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 special cheese is Hi-Land Chèvre from Hi-Land Farm, Franklin, VT.  The chèvre is milky and clean, creamy and wonderfully versatile. At its simplest, spread on toast with a smear of honey, it serves as a perfect breakfast.

Try one of these seasonal recipes that highlight its remarkable adaptability to succeed, from appetizers to dessert:

For more information on the program, visit:


USDA Rural Development Mission at Risk

Farmers Union, Coalition of Rural Organizations Oppose Elimination of Rural Development Mission Area

Highlighting the important work carried out by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDARural DevelopmentNational Farmers Union (NFU) and a diverse coalition of rural organizations are calling on Congress to prevent any attempt to eliminate the Rural Development Mission Area (RD) and the Office of the Under Secretary for Rural Development.

The groups outlined their concerns in a letter to members of Congress today. The letter follows a proposed reorganization of USDA by the Trump Administration, which would eliminate Rural Development as a core mission area and replace the Under Secretary for Rural Development with a Special Assistant.

“The USDA’s Rural Development mission area is critical to improving rural communities infrastructure, including expanding broadband access and providing direct support and loans to farm and food businesses and co-operatives,” said Roger Noonan, President of the New England Farmers Union (NEFU). “We are hopeful that Congress will recognize the many benefits of RD and not diminish it’s role or funding.”

Rural families, businesses and co-operatives need efficient transportation infrastructure, high-speed broadband, affordable water, quality schools and public safety for rural communities to prosper. USDA’s Rural Development Mission Area allows underserved rural communities to be competitive in the national and global marketplace.

“Rural America is much more than production agriculture,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “Family farmers and ranchers need vibrant rural communities because they provide desirable amenities and jobs. Underfunding, understaffing or demoting the Rural Development Mission Area within USDA would cause real harm to programs that benefit farming and rural communities.”

Rural Development is currently a core USDA Mission Area. It is overseen by an Under Secretary, and is therefore part of the USDA subcabinet. The reassignment would remove Rural Development from the subcabinet and rescind both the decision-making power that comes with being a core USDA Mission Area and the ability for Congress to have direct oversight.

“RD has a $216 billion portfolio with over forty different programs,” noted the coalition’s letter. “Programs under the Rural Development portfolio provide critical resources and technical assistance for some of the most underserved communities in the country – a responsibility demanding the highest caliber of leadership and accountability.”

“The Administration highlights the shift as an ‘elevation of rural development’ as the new assistant would report directly to the Secretary of Agriculture,” noted the letter. “Yet all Under Secretaries already report directly to the Secretary, and indeed serve as part of his subcabinet, so the assertion this would better position RD is deeply misleading.”

The letter also noted the USDA reorganization is the result of a congressional directive included in the 2014 Farm Bill, which instructed USDA to create a new Undersecretary of Trade. Although Congress directed USDA to create a Trade Under Secretary, USDA was under no legal obligation to eliminate any other mission area or Undersecretary to accomplish the directive.

“Rural America should not have to choose between production agriculture and critical economic development investments. We need core services and programs aimed directly at addressing the unique and diverse needs of rural communities,” concluded the letter.

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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. For more information on our partnership & how you can become a member, visit:


Co-op Calendar

For More Co-op & Food System Related Events, Visit:


Jun 1-2, 2017

Slow Living Summit, Brattleboro, VT

FREE this year!  Space is limited, so register now:

Jun 5-13

Tour of the Co-operative Movement of Emilia Romagna, Italy


Jun 8-11, 2017

CCMA – The National Food Co-op Conference, Minneapolis, MN 



Jul 1, 2017

International Day of Co-ops


Jul 18-22

Tour of the Co-operative Movement of Croatia 


Aug 11-13, 2017

Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA) Summer Conference

Hampshire College, MA 

Aug 17-19, 2017

Federation of Southern Co-operatives 50th Annual Meeting, Birmingham & Epes, AL 


Sept 30 – Oct 1, 2017

Co-op Festival, National Mall, Washington, DC 



Oct 18-27

Tour of the Co-operative Movement of Mondragón, Spain 


Nov 4, 2017

Co-op Cafe, Keene, NH (Co-Hosted by the NFCA) 


March 18, 2018

Neighboring Food Co-op Association 7th Annual Meeting


The Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA) is a co-operative federation of 35 food co-ops and start-up initiatives across New England, working together toward a shared vision of a thriving co-operative economy, rooted in a healthy, just, and sustainable food system and a vibrant community of  co-operative enterprise.