A New Co-op Paradigm // NFCA News, November 2019

Your Neighboring Food Co-ops

Locally Owned by More Than

150,000 People Like You!

In this Month’s E-News, check out:

Enhancing Business Performance Through Co-operative Management

Are co-ops facing an identity crisis? Course engages Managers and Board Members in leveraging the co-op difference and the “New Co-operative Paradigm.”

As part of our mission of making professional development training more accessible to co-op leaders in our region, the Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA) has partnered with the International Centre for Co-operative Management at Saint Mary’s University. In October, we offered a course on “Enhancing Business Performance through Co-operative Management Practices,” bringing together 18 co-op leaders from consumer and worker co-ops for two days of interactive learning. The sessions highlighted leading thinking in co-operative management, coupled with tangible examples of how to translate knowledge into action and “strengthen identity, loyalty and participation at your co-op”. Co-op leaders left the course with ideas on how to address the “Co-op Identity Crisis” using a co-operative balanced scorecard and other tools to measure and manage priorities and engage the “New Co-op Paradigm” for long-term success in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

“The course provided a useful framework for helping me move our co-op beyond the focus on numbers,” said Kathleen Quinn, manager of Cambridge Food Co-op. “It reminded me that co-ops have unique characteristics that can help us differentiate ourselves from our competition and become a true asset in our communities.”

Special thanks to our partners from Cabot Creamery Co-operative, Cooperative Development Foundation, and National Cooperative Bank for helping make this course accessible to all of our member co-ops.

Beyond these Executive Education courses that are offered around the world, Saint Mary’s University is known for their online, part-time Master’s level courses in co-operative business.

They are currently accepting applications for the following programs:

  • Master of Management, Co-operatives and Credit Unions (online, part-time over 3 years)
  • Graduate Diploma in Co-operative Management (online, part-time over 20 months)
  • Certificate in Co-operative Management (online, part-time over 10 months)

More information at managementstudies.coop

If you are interested in participating in future courses, please e-mail Bonnie Hudspeth, bonnie@nfca.coop

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

Giving Thanks, Building Community

However you choose to celebrate this season, you can find all of the ingredients you need for a joyous time with friends and family — and a more inclusive and sustainable community. 

When you shop at your local food co-op, you’re getting more than healthy, delicious food for your celebration. You are also helping to build a better world by…

  • Keeping It Local. When you shop at the co-op, more of your money stays in the community, supporting local producers, and building shared wealth. Last year, our customers purchased over $93 million in local products.
  • Supporting Good Jobs. 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 2,300 co-op employees are also members, sharing in the ownership of their community grocery store.
  • Building Sustainability. Your purchases support sustainable agriculture, Fair Trade, reduced packaging through bulk buying, renewable energy and increased efficiency — contributing to a more healthy environment.
  • Growing an Inclusive Economy. Food co-ops are locally owned and democratically governed by their members — more than 150,000 people like you who live and work in our communities — empowering people to work together to build a more inclusive economy.

All are welcome to shop at your local food co-op, and we invite you to become a member. Together, we are working to build a more healthy, just and sustainable world.

To find a food co-op near you, please visit https://nfca.coop/members.

Now Offering Personal Impact Deposit Accounts

Open an account today and help increase access to local, healthy food, deliver health care to more people, create affordable housing and build renewable energy. Your Choices Reflect Your Values. Your Bank Should Too. Check our rates and Open an Account today.

Welcome, Wolfeboro Food Co-op!

The Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA) is proud to welcome Wolfeboro Food Co-op as our newest member!

After three years of hard work by the founding Board of Directors, the Wolfeboro Food Co-op opened in July 2017, with the mission of providing access to high quality, fairly priced, organic, local, and natural foods and products for the town of Wolfeboro, NH.

“We’re so glad to have the Wolfeboro Food Co-op as part of our community of food co-ops,” said Bonnie Hudspeth, who leads Co-operative Development for the NFCA. “Across our region, communities of all sizes are continuing to organize and open new co-operatively owned grocery stores to meet their unmet needs, just as community members in Wolfeboro have done, and we are here to support their shared success.”

In early October of this year, the co-op moved from its initial location to a new storefront with increased visibility. Having found a good spot, the co-op family stepped up generously, helping to fit-out the store and participating in the physical relocation of goods and store set-up during the weekend of the big move. “Our new store has been met with delight by our customers and staff are finding the space much easier to work in,” said Board President Corinne Ferguson. “Sales and customers continue to grow.”

In the Spring of 2019, Corinne attended NFCA’s Startup Workshop Day, an annual event presented in collaboration with Food Co-op Initiative (FCI) to support new food co-op development. “Even though we were no longer in a startup stage, I learned so much about good practices and what we should be doing going forward,” said Corinne. “NFCA’s advice and insights have been invaluable during this challenging time of trying to grow our business in a tight market, while moving the entire operation to a new location. It’s great to be able to call upon the generously-minded NFCA folks for advice. They have such a deep expertise and great relationships in Co-op the world and the Wolfeboro Food Co-op is delighted to have become a member.”

The NFCA includes almost 40 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

Thank You, Robyn!

Warm thanks to Robyn O’Brien, an integral part of our food co-op community, as she starts on a new journey.

Robyn O’Brien, long-time co-operator and recent general manager at Putney Food Co-op, is the embodiment of the vibrant community of co-operation in our region, bringing together local, regional, and national peers for mutual learning, caring, and fun. Robyn was also an early visionary of the Neighboring Food Co-op Association and served as a founding member of our Board of Directors.

Friends, colleagues, and co-workers gathered in October for a joyous celebration to wish Robyn well. Pictured at right at Robyn’s farewell celebration in Bellows Falls, VT are Erbin Crowell (NFCA Executive Director), Robyn O’Brien, Bonnie Hudspeth (NFCA Co-operative Development), Suzette Snow-Cobb (NFCA Sourcing Coordinator, NFCA), and Michael Wells (Putney Food Co-op President & NFCA Board Member).

We thank you, Robyn, for your generous spirit and all that you have contributed to the growth and success of our movement, and for all of the joy you brought to our work. Best wishes on your next adventures!

Thanks to Cabot Creamery Co-operative for their support of our Neighboring Food Co-ops

Farm to Freezer: Corny Bread

Corny Bread with Northeast Grown Corn

Your co-op has the ingredients you need for making your holiday meals special, including regionally grown frozen vegetables. Over the last year, co-op shoppers have purchased nearly 6,000 pounds of frozen non-gmo corn, peas, green beans, edamame, and blueberries made available through Neighboring Food Co-op Association’s frozen project. Your co-op is a part of a vision of a thriving co-operative economy, rooted in a healthy, just, and sustainable food system. Having regionally grown fruits and vegetable year-round is part of that sustainable food system helping our family farms be viable and farm families thriving all year long.

Preparing for holiday meals can be overwhelming, so using basic recipes and adding tasty variations can help take the pressure off. Corn bread is a great accompaniment to hearty every-day meals as well as special holiday dinners. Try adding NFCA frozen corn to your favorite cornbread recipe. Before baking, just evenly distribute defrosted corn over the top of the batter. Bake as directed. This vegan and gluten-free recipe from A Saucy Kitchen received rave reviews with corn, jalapeno, and cilantro added.

We are thankful to have hard-working farmers bringing us fresh fruits and vegetables throughout the season, let’s keep supporting family farms by choosing regionally sourced Neighboring Food Co-op Association frozen vegetables all year long.

For more Farm to Freezer information and recipes visit: www.nfca.coop/farmtofreezer.


Thanks to Cooperative Fund of New England for their support of our Neighboring Food Co-ops

November’s Cave to Co-op Cheese Special

Good Old Gouda, Cobb Hill Farm, Hartland Four Corners, VT

Good Old Gouda is a washed curd cheese extra-aged 10-12 months and is based on a Dutch Gouda recipe. This complex and nutty natural rind cheese is made with rich and creamy raw Jersey cow milk, which imparts a smooth and buttery flavor.

Recipes using Good Old Gouda: https://nfca.coop/cave-to-co-op-november-2019/

All of their cheeses are made from raw milk from pastured Jersey cows that are bred and raised at Cobb Hill by their dairy enterprise partners Cedar Mountain Farm. From May to September, the herd grazes on pasture maintained without artificial pesticides or fertilizers. During the non-pasture season, the Jerseys eat hay from our own fields and neighboring farms.

Cobb Hill is an intentionally planned community in Hartland Four Corners, begun by Donella Meadows, renowned founder of the Sustainability Institute (now called Academy for Systems Change). In 1997 two local dairy farms were purchased and merged into a 260-acre co-operative community and farm. The community members are all dedicated to living in ways that are socially and ecologically responsible.

Cave to Co-op 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.

For more information on Cave to Co-op, visit: www.nfca.coop/CaveToCo-op


Thanks to New England Farmers Union for their support of our Neighboring Food Co-ops

Farmers Union: Giving Thanks, Growing the Movement

As we give thanks this holiday season for the bounty provided by our local producers, let’s also join our voices together to advocate for policies that support a stronger, more diverse and sustainable food system that works for everyone.

Please join the New England Farmers Union and add your voice to this call. Members of food co-ops that are part of the Neighboring Food Co-op Association can join at a special “Friend of the Farmer” rate of just $15.

Our food co-ops are committed to supporting local farmers and fishermen through our purchasing power, long-term partnerships, and collaboration. We also know that the work of building a thriving regional food system requires partnership among producers and consumers. That’s why the Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA) is an affiliate member of the Farmers Union. Together, we are supporting the success of our family farmers and fishermen, growing co-operative business, and influencing the food and agriculture policies that affect us all.

Just this fall, representatives of NFCA Member Co-ops Hanover Co-op Food Stores and Willimantic Food Co-op participated in the National Farmers Union’s Fall Legislative Fly-In to DC. There they joined family farmers from across the country to lobby policy makers on a range of issues important to our region including:

  • Climate Change and legislation that would provide farmers and forest landowners with tools and resources to help them adapt to, and mitigate the impacts of a changing climate.
  • Dairy Policy and solutions to the crisis being faced by our family dairy farmers such as supply management and fair dairy prices.
  • Local Foods & Affordability Programs such as Double Up Bucks that connect local farms with, and improve health outcomes for, underserved populations.
  • Co-ops & Small Business Administration (SBA) programs that currently exclude co-operatives from participating in lending programs that could help them grow.
  • Immigration and support for the Agricultural Workers Program Act of 2019 which includes a pathway to citizenship for undocumented and documented farm workers.

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

Please consider joining the Farmers Union as a “Friend of the Farmer” for just $15. When you do, you’ll be joining your voice with the voices of our region’s family farmers and fishermen as we work to build stronger, more diverse and sustainable food system that works for everyone.

*       *       *       *

The New England Farmers Union Needs You!

If you care about where your food comes from and want to support the people who produce it, consider joining NEFU as a Friend of the Farmer for just $15. Your membership will help ensure that our region’s producers and consumers are heard by policy makers here at home and in Washington, DC. For more information, please visit www.newenglandfarmersunion.org.

Our Neighborhood Co-op Calendar

33rd NOFA/Mass Winter Conference

Saturday, 11 January 2020

Worcester State University

Worcester , MA

The keynote for the 33rd NOFA/Mass Winter conference will be the award-winning journalist Carey Gillam. Gillam is a former senior correspondent for Reuter’s international news service and veteran journalist with over 25 years of experience covering American corporations and agribusiness. She specializes in biotech, pesticide development, and the environmental impacts of food production in the United States. Her articles appear regularly in The Guardian, the Huffington Post, Environmental Health News and the US Right to Know.

The Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA) is a proud sponsor of NOFA/Mass as part of our vision for a healthy, just and sustainable food system.

For More Co-op Events, Visit https://nfca.coop/calendar


Nov 28

Thanksgiving Day

Visit your local Food Co-op for all you need to celebrate with family & friends!



Dec 21

175th Anniversary of the founding of the Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers, 1844.



Sat, Jan 11

NOFA MASS Winter Conference



Thurs-Sun, Jan 17-19

NOFA NY Winter Conference




Sat, Feb 8

NOFA NH Winter Conference



Sat-Mon, Feb 15-17

NOFA VT Winter Conference



MARCH 2020

Sat, Mar 7

NOFA CT Winter Conference



Mar 21

9th Annual Meeting of the Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA)

Join us for full day of presentations, workshops, and networking for member food co-op board members & staff.

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.