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In this edition:
Dorcester Food Co-op Opens!
There is a new food co-op in town! Dorchester Food Co-op, one of the NFCA’s first start-up members, opened its doors in October to well-deserved fanfare.
Central to the mission of the Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA) is leveraging the resources and experience of our member food co-ops for shared success across our communities. As the saying goes, “a rising tide lifts all boats,” and we believe that this is true for our co-operatives – the more successful food co-ops there are in our region, the more likely it is that all co-ops will flourish.
A key question for our association has been how we can share our resources for more broadly, and since our beginnings our members have worked to support the next wave of start-up food co-ops, particularly in marginalized communities in our region. For example, the same year that the NFCA was incorporated in 2011, the NFCA began providing free technical support for the organizers of the Dorchester Food Co-op. Working with our partners at Dorsey & Whitney LLP, a national law firm with extensive co-op experience, we provided template bylaws and articles of incorporation and ongoing legal support for an innovative “Solidarity Co-op” model bringing together worker and consumer members in mutual self-help and self-responsibility. In 2012, we helped them to formally incorporate under Massachusetts co-operative law.
Recognizing the challenges faced by marginalized communities in accessing sufficient equity, the co-op’s articles of incorporation included the option for recruiting non-voting investment capital without giving up control by the members – the shoppers and employees of the co-operative. And in 2021, the NFCA became an investor in the Dorchester Food Co-op as part of our effort to support help grow community food co-ops across our region.
Over the years, Dorchester’s members, directors, and staff have been participated in many of the peer networking activities organized by the NFCA and our partners at Food Co-op Initiative (FCI). In the spirit of collaboration, they also shared their experiences with other start-ups at our gatherings, which received additional support from partners including Cabot Creamery Co-op, Cooperative Development Foundation (CDF), Cooperative Fund of the Northeast (CFNE), Dorsey LLP, Equal Exchange, Kapatoes Insurance, and Simply Voting, and were hosted by our members Monadnock Food Co-op (NH) and River Valley Co-op (MA).
“After 12 years of organizing, on October 14, we were thrilled to celebrate the Grand Opening of our new Food Co-op, currently the only Food Co-op in the City of Boston,” said founding member and current treasurer Jenny Silverman. “We are proud to have been one of the first start-ups to join the NFCA, and we look forward to continuing to participate in all that our association has to offer our food justice movement.”
With the celebration of the grand opening of the Dorchester Food Co-op in Dorchester, Massachusetts, we also celebrated a new era as we continue our efforts to build a more just, sustainable, and inclusive economy through co-operation. The successful launch of a food co-op is a group effort, and we are proud to have played a role in Dorchester’s progress. In the end, however, it was the tireless efforts of the co-op’s members, directors, and staff that have brough them to this point. And we are excited to continue the journey as we grow our association, together.
Do you have friends and family in the Boston area? Let them know that there is a new food co-op in town: Everyone is welcome at Dorchester Food Co-op!
Co-op Month Roundup!
Members of co-operatives and credit unions across the United States are celebrating Co-op Month!
While we celebrate National Co-op Month each October, we are thankful for the work our co-ops do year ‘round to enable people to build stronger communities.
This year, our co-ops highlighted the theme “Owning our Identity,” by:
- Growing their Membership. With incentives from Cabot Creamery Co-op, REI, and Mad River Ski Area and their own unique member drive incentives like River Valley Co-op’s fall prizes and incentives for joining and
- Highlighting Co-op Suppliers. Our food co-ops got creative this year with ways to feature co-op produced items that we see on the shelves year-round. Like Middlebury Food Co-op’s fantastic resource page and Portland Food Co-op’s special sale of co-op produced products, and Littleton Food Co-op’s podcast featuring Real Pickles Co-op producer. Great work drawing attention to the many co-op producers who are also working to build a stronger and more resilient regional food system!
- Engaging Staff. Our co-op staff take pride in their work, recognizing that while they each do their individual jobs, together they are contributing to building more just, equitable, and sustainable communities. On average, food co-op staff receive higher wages and more are employed full-time than in supermarkets in our region. Over 60% of our 2,465 co-op employees are also members, sharing in the ownership of their community grocery store. Co-op staff work hard to engage their communities on their co-op identity like Urban Greens. We had multiple fantastic photos submitted for our Co-op Month Photo contest demonstrating the pride and camaraderie they have for their co-op work. See some of them here.
- Educating Policymakers. During Co-op Month we also take the opportunity to raise awareness amongst state and local decision-makers of the contributions co-operatives make to our economy. Co-op Month has been recognized with proclamations from Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Vermont and thanks to Monadnock Food Co-op’s initiative, multiple years in the City of Keene, NH. On the national level, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack issued a USDA proclamation celebrating the vital role cooperatives play in improving economic opportunities and advancing equity in America.
From in-store events, special sales and membership drives to community activities and more, our Neighboring Food Co-ops are spreading the word about the Co-operative Difference across our region. Co-operatives leverage our shared Co-operative Identity in the face of some of the biggest challenges we continue to face: a global pandemic, climate emergency, and systemic racism. Give thanks for the numerous, strong, and resilient co-ops working every day to build and economy that works for everyone!
As we give thanks this holiday season, we especially appreciate our food co-op staff, who are working hard to keep our communities safe while ensuring access to healthy, nourishing food.
All are welcome to shop at your local food co-op, and we invite you to become a member-owner, joining with your neighbors as we work together to build more healthy, just, and sustainable communities.
To find a food co-op near you, please visit: https://nfca.coop/members
New GM at Fiddleheads!
The Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA) extends a warm welcome to Stanley Bellamy, newly appointed General Manager of Fiddleheads Food Co-op, New London, CT.
A New London local, Stanley Bellamy grew up in Montville, where he has lived for the past seven years. Stanley, who has been a part of the team at Fiddleheads Food Co-op since 2021, officially assumed the role of General Manager at the end of August.
“With Stanley at the helm, we are eager to embark on this new chapter,” noted Board President Brenda De Los Santos in the co-op’s press release. “His fresh ideas and unique perspectives promise to invigorate our co-op. Under his guidance, we are confident that Fiddleheads Food Co-op will continue to thrive, offering our community the finest products, exceptional service and so much more.”
While not at the co-op, Stanley’s two young children keep him busy but notes that Fiddleheads has become a super significant part of his life in the past two years.
“I’m really looking forward to having the co-op authentically engage with people of color in the New London community and making it more accessible to the local community as a whole,” he said.
Please join us in welcoming Stanley Bellamy in his new role and look forward to meeting him at a future NFCA gathering. For more information on Fiddleheads Food Co-op, visit their website.
Co-ops in the News
Fourth Annual Fairtrade Month Campaign Celebrates the Role We All Play in Creating a Sustainable Future
CISION PR Newswire
WMTW News 8 Portland
National Confectioners Association
WHMP Talk The Talk
The Keene Sentinel
Old Creamery Co-op: Highlight on Neighboring Food Co-op Association
By Jesse Massaro
In the picturesque town of Shelburne Falls, nestled between golden autumnal hills and overlooking the tranquil Deerfield River, is the office of a small regional co-op making a big difference. Western Massachusetts is home to people who love to help each other out, and who know how to come together for a greater purpose. That’s certainly one reason why we have such a thriving environment for Co-ops. Another reason is the hard work of organizations creating space and informing their peers and the public about the opportunities and benefits of working in co-operation.
The Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA) is a co-op that works for its members. Each of the forty-four regional food co-ops who make up its membership have access to its resources for promotion and education, as well as the generous accumulated pool of knowledge this organization represents. These resources can only come from a network of businesses in cooperation, with experienced and invested stewards. Who are these folks? What impact have they had?
For the Old Creamery Co-op, NFCA has been an invaluable resource. GMs have attended meetings and peer networking courses, as well as educational programs. We currently have board members who actively join the Board Peer Dialogue group, where board members can get together to share information, collaborate on projects, and support each other in board practices.
Suzette Snow-Cobb, Associate Director at NFCA, is even helping to facilitate the Old Creamery Co-op’s Board retreat this coming weekend, where the board will discuss its future goals and how best to support the co-op and its members. She has had a direct and positive influence on our little Co-op, and is a perfect example of what NFCA brings to the table…
Read on here!
Has your co-op been in the news recently? Send your item to email@example.com.
November Cave-to-Co-op Special
This month’s special cheese is Gore Dawn Zola by Green Mountain Blue Cheese in Highgate Center, Vermont.
The history of the Lake Champlain and St. Lawrence River Valleys is the history of the French farmers who settled the region. Tradesmen, trappers, and soldiers required a secure local food source that would allow them to pursue their interests, instead of spending all their time preparing, gathering, and hunting for food. Nearly 400 years ago, the Bouchers received several allotments in New France, which eventually became Quebec, Canada. They raised meat and work animals, grew crops, and made soap, butter, and flour – both for themselves and for sale. Wealth, respect, and additional land were the rewards for supporting the local community, but the risk was very high.
During the French and Indian Wars one ancestor, Pierre Boucher, took control of Fort Trois Rivieres after it was depleted of able-bodied men and made peace with the Iroquois, a pivotal event in the history of the province. Boucherville was named in his honor and his statue stands on the grounds of the National Assembly Building in Quebec City. The French legacy remains in the religion, language, culture, and cuisine of the province.
Over the centuries many have abandoned farming, but a line of Bouchers remained in active agriculture. Today Boucher Family Farm is run by the families of Daniel and Denis Boucher. Family members perform all the daily operations on the 90-cow dairy, cropping 800 acres and maintaining over 200 acres of managed forest, which include deer yards and riparian corridors. For the past year, the Bouchers have shared the farm’s facilities with another dairying couple, a partnership that may be unique in the state; two farmers, one dairy, lots of possibilities, and lots of beautiful and delicious cheese.
Gore Dawn Zola is made in the Gorgonzola style, tangy, sharp and crumbly. The Bouchers live on Gore Road, and Dawn Boucher was the founding cheesemaker – her niece Kayleigh is learning the ropes to continue the creamery and cheesemaking into the future. This cheese is cured over a three-week period attracting naturally occurring flora to form a rind. The surface is scraped down before wrapping and further aging in their cellar. It has a unique character and bitter chocolate aroma.
Recipes using Gore Dawn Zola can be found here.
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.
New England Farmers Union
As we give thanks for the bounty produced by our local farmers and fishers this holiday season, we need your help to grow the movement for more resilient, sustainable & inclusive food system in the Northeast.
Your food co-op is committed to supporting local producers through your purchasing power, long-term partnerships, and collaboration. We can also work together by joining our voices in calling for a more just, inclusive and sustainable food system that works for everyone.
That’s why we hope you will join the New England Farmers Union!
Family Farmers and Fishers are the heart of the Farmers Union — and consumers are also invited to join as a “Friend of the Farmer” for just $15! Businesses or organizations can also join, and NFCA Member Co-ops can sign up at a special discounted rate of $100 — and when you do, we’ll send you one of these beautiful metal signs and complimentary one-year memberships to offer to your favorite local farmers!
Your support will help us build a better food and farm system in the Northeast, joining our voices with family farmers, fishers, and co-operatives from across our region to lobby policy makers on a range of issues important to our region including:
- Supporting Food Security. As we work to help our communities rebuild, families must be able to access healthy, nutritious food from local producers.
- Strengthening Rural Communities. We need reinvestment in our rural hospitals and mental health resources, improved broadband connectivity in rural areas, and repairs to the damage done to our postal service.
- Fighting Consolidation of our Food System. Our regional producers and processors need more direct access to markets, greater transparency from buyers, and more stable prices for dairy and other farm commodities.
- Combatting Climate Change. Farmers need the resources, technology, and information necessary to adapt to climate change — and a seat at the table and a strong voice in the development of climate policies and programs.
These efforts are vital for the future of our regional food system. But we need your help to grow the movement by helping us grow membership in the Farmers Union.
We hope you’ll consider joining the Farmers Union at this critical time!
Join the Farmers Union! 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. The Neighboring Food Co-op Association is an affiliate member of the New England Farmers Union chapter – and invites farmers, food co-ops, and consumers to join us! For more information, please visit www.newenglandfarmersunion.org.
Co-operative Identity Consultation Education, Training & Information
Online, Wednesday 15 Nov 2023, 8:00 AM EST
Join the global dialog on the Co-operative Identity! What does Co-operative Principle 5: Education, Training & Information, mean in 2023 and beyond? As part of the International Co-operative Alliance’s (ICA) Global Consultation on the Co-operative Identity, the Co-operative College is hosting an online consultation. For more information and to register, visit their website.