E-News // Build a Better World With Business You Trust // October 2015

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




[From the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA)]

October is Co-op Month in the USA, an opportunity for co-ops from across the country to celebrate their co-operative identity. As part of Co-op Month Celebrations, the Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA) is encouraging member co-operatives to use “Go Co-op” shelf tags that indicate products made by supplier co-ops and that incorporate the Co-op Marque developed by the International Co-operative Alliance to help co-ops around the world increase awareness, promote the Co-operative Identity, and differentiate co-ops from other business models.

NFCA is a network of 35 food co-ops and start-ups across New England working together to create a community of co-operative enterprises. Shelf tags are part of the association’s Go Co-op! initiative inspired by the sixth co-operative principle – co-operation among co-operatives.

Go Co-op! aims to stimulate co-operatives to trade with each other as well, purchase co-operative products and services and invest in other co-operative businesses. A long list of co-operative suppliers is available at www.nfca.coop/co-opproducts. The Go Co-op! website also features a map of food co-ops in the region. Members are directed to the Credit Union National Association’s website to find and join a local credit union.

The Go Co-op! portal includes information about co-operative funds that help co-ops grow and continue to serve their communities such as Cooperative Fund of New England and Northcountry Cooperative Development Fund.

Through the Go Co-op! initiative NFCA also works to inform customers about the wider co-operative economy. The website provides details on study groups and courses on co-operatives.

A number of resources and a list of ideas on how to celebrate co-operation during October and throughout the year are available at https://nfca.coop/go.

“The Co-operative marque is becoming the key identifier for co-ops all around the world and there are now more than 1,400 co-ops in 105 countries registered to use the marque. This example from NFCA is one of the best we have come across and it is great that the team there are putting the marque in front of consumers so that they can make a choice between products from co-operatives and those produced by other types of business,” commented Nicola Huckerby, global marketing lead for the co-operative identity.

“The co-operative marque is our opportunity to tell our story. For our food co-ops, it also enables us to communicate that we are part of something bigger. From worker co-ops to credit unions, housing co-ops to energy co-ops, and farmer co-ops to food co-ops — across our economy, co-operatives empower people to build a better world, together,” said Erbin Cowell, executive director of the Neighboring Food Co-op Association.

Read more here: http://ica.coop/en/media/news/go-co-op-logo-%E2%80%9Cmarques%E2%80%9D-co-op-month



A True Co-Operator In Our Midst: Joanne Todd

Joanne Todd, who serves on the boards of the Willimantic Food Co-op and the Neighboring Food Co-op Association, was recently honored in an article from the Credit Union National Association news.

In her day job, Todd is president/CEO of Northeast Family Federal Credit Union in Manchester, Connecticut. Todd is a, “self-described ‘credit union person.’ But she could be just as accurately described as a ‘co-op person.’”

“Todd’s belief in the credit union member-centric cooperative way of doing business led to her involvement with a local food co-op. Her story serves as a lesson in how a ‘credit union person’ can demonstrate her commitment to the cooperative business model.”

“Todd believes she serves a civic good in furthering the cooperative effort in her local community. ‘To me it’s vitally important for our community to have a locally owned, successful business that offers healthy, high quality food,’ she said. ‘It’s a special place in our community.’”

She also believes more credit unions can learn from similar types of relationships with co-ops. ‘One of the ways we can differentiate ourselves is by identifying as co-ops and constantly trying to tell our members that they are our owners,’ she said. ‘Members of the food co-op become members of credit unions because they believe in co-ops, local ownership and local control. They are good and loyal members because of that philosophy, so in that way it is a differentiator.’”

“‘Co-ops represent a different way of doing business,’ she said. ‘That model offers us both opportunities and responsibilities. It’s something that has to be nurtured and cared for.’”

Read more at http://s.coop/toddcooperator2015.

Brattleboro Food Co-op: “In Co-operation”

The Brattleboro Food Co-op is celebrating Co-op Month by promoting co-op products and acknowledging how member-owners are participating in the co-operative economy.   In a recent article, general manager Sabine Rhyne reminds member-owners and co-op shoppers about our role in the economy:

“You choose to spend your grocery dollars in our cooperative store, and by doing so, you support more organic products and produce, more local producers, higher average wages, less waste, and more healthful educational activities in the local schools and community groups.”

And, taking it a step further, what happens when you purchase products in your co-op that are made by co-operatives?  The Brattleboro Food Co-op puts up the Go Co-op! shelf talkers provided by the Neighboring Food Co-op Association to invite shoppers to check out the products in their store that are made by “producer co-ops throughout the world or worker-owned coops both near and far.”

“And then, there are the benefits of our local Co-op consumers purchasing products from cooperative growers and producers. It’s the ultimate fair-trade, where more of your dollar actually gets to the producers and their communities. Our friends at Equal Exchange, a worker-owned co-op, source nuts, cocoa, coffees, tropical fruits, and so much more from cooperative farmer organizations. Nearby co-ops like Real Pickles and regional Organic Valley dairy farmers value their Co-op customers. And this year, we, along with many other co-ops across the country, are offering a cooperative wine from Argentina. La Riojana Cooperative is the largest cooperative of wine grape growers, with 500 members and annual production of around four million cases. They are the world’s largest producer of organic, fair-trade wine, and our Co-op customers will now have an opportunity to purchase this high quality wine for a very good value price! The added volume that our Co-op will give this organization will enable more growers to receive “fair-trade premiums” that allow for community projects such as solar pumps and panels, in addition to schools and access to drinking water.”

Rhyne raps the article up by reminding us of the impact of our shopping decisions.  “The power of cooperation is great, and we sometimes forget what those small decisions in the aisles truly mean up the supply chain. This month allows us to remind you of this, and also to thank you for participating in our own cooperative economy.”

Read more about how Brattleboro Food Co-op is celebrating Co-op Month: http://s.coop/bfccoopmonth2015

Springfield Food Co-op GM Receives Award for ADA Employment Practices

On October 7, Neomi Lauritsen, general manager of the Springfield Food Co-op, received the 2015 Spirit of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Employer award and Special Recognition award by the Vermont Governor’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities.  For the last two years, the award has been presented to individuals and businesses that reflect “the spirit of the ADA in employment practices, including accessibility, recruiting, hiring, accommodating and support of a person(s) with disability as an overall employment strategy.”

The Eagle Times covered the award in a recent article.  “‘What [employees with disabilities] do is really valuable to the store and also to my staff,’ said Lauritsen after receiving the award from several members of the 23-person committee.”

Lauritsen was nominated for the award by Amanda Moore of Health Care and Rehabilitation Services (HCRS) of Southeastern Vermont.  Amanda nominated Lauritsen for being, “…‘The epitome of what we seek’ in working with and in hiring clients.”

Read the full article here:




WASHINGTON (October 1, 2015) – National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson today hailed the nation’s many and varied co-operatives, noting that they have brought both political and economic might to family farmers, ranchers and rural America for over a century.

“Since the founding of our organization 113 years ago, Farmers Union members have demonstrated that they not only believe in and belong to co-operatives, the co-operative concept is at the very heart of who we are and how we think as an organization,” said Johnson.

Johnson noted that October is National Co-operative Month, a point on the calendar when more than 29,000 co-operatives from across the nation undertake some form of educational outreach to ensure that people better understand the co-operative business model and how it can improve life for rural Americans.  Johnson noted that co-operatives are more important than ever in rural America, given the fact that agriculture is increasingly highly concentrated on both the supply and demand sides of the equation.

“For Farmers Unions across this great nation, co-operatives are not only considered an effective business model, their founding principles go right to the heart of who we are as an organization,” said Johnson. “And honestly, they are one of the best tools we have to cope with and fight the continued economic concentration in agriculture,” he said.

Farmers Union’s roots in co-operatives go all the way back to the organization’s founding in Point, Texas, in 1902, when farmers began to see an increase in both political strength and visibility through strength in numbers.

“Our organization’s founders responded to sundry business practices that not only placed farmers and ranchers at a disadvantage, but actually pitted us against one another,” said Johnson.

After that realization, Farmers Union members went on to organize co-operatives that focused on storage warehouses, supply and marketing, purchasing, rural electric and even credit unions. Today, they’ve expanded even further, and in states like Michigan have even teamed up with public schools to provide local, nutritious food for school lunches in the “Farm to School” program.

Johnson noted that the NFU Foundation provides co-operative education in all of its programs, and in 2012, published curriculum on co-operatives, “Co-operatives: The Business of Teamwork.” (A version of this curriculum adapted to New England may be downloaded here.)

“Co-operatives to this day remain a vital cornerstone of rural American communities, forming the nexus of the rural economy and putting their money and efforts back into their communities,” said Johnson. “As an organization, we are committed to ensure that this smart business and empowerment model continues to help bring increased strength and prosperity to rural America, and we’re delighted that the co-operative spirit is reaching further than ever into new areas and ideas,” he said.

National Farmers Union has been working since 1902 to protect and enhance the economic well-being and quality of life for family farmers, ranchers and rural communities through advocating grassroots-driven policy positions adopted by its membership.



Have you noticed the “Cave to Co-op” signs in the cheese section of your neighboring food co-op? October’s “Cave to Co-op” special artisan cheese is “Grafton Clothbound Cheddar” from Grafton Village Cheese, Grafton, VT.

The cheese is carefully matured in Grafton’s own cave aging facility using raw milk from small Vermont family farms that is thermalized and contains no artificial hormones.  Grafton Clothbound Cheddar is delicious this time of year, served with a piece of ripe local apple or pear.  Here are some other autumnal recipes to try out: https://nfca.coop/CaveToCo-opOctober2015

Cave to Co-op is a partnership between Provisions International and the Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA) to support local, artisanal cheese producers in our region and make their products more easily available to co-op shoppers. For more information on the program, please visit www.nfca.coop/CaveToCo-op.



If you’re a longtime reader of this newsletter, you know the NFCA and its food co-op members are, in turn, members of New England Farmers Union. This partnership benefits food co-ops, the farmers who supply them, and the consumers who depend on both for healthy, locally grown food. For those of you new to Farmers Union, the New England Farmers Union is one of 26 state or regional chapters of National Farmers Union (NFU), a progressive agriculture organization that has been advocating for family farmers for 113 years. We want to share a few news items with you:

The 2015 NFU Legislative Fly-In
In mid-September, 275 family farmers gathered in Washington, D.C., to receive briefings from NFU staff, USDA Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden, and others on the status of legislation and programs impacting farmers. Five NEFU members attended, meeting with our Congressional delegation and staffers on key issues for New England growers.

The NFU Action Center
Earlier this month, NFU launched a new online advocacy tool, the NFU Action Center, which will allow users to keep track of key issues affecting family agriculture and rural communities, and take action on these issues with the click of a button. New England Farmers Union is happy to spread the word to its members and those working toward a more just and sustainable food system that through this tool, users will be able to:

  • Stay up-to-date with key issues, bills and votes on Capitol Hill
  • Send pre-written letters to representatives and federal agencies
  • Sign petitions
  • Share stories
  • Tweet at representatives and federal agencies

Take a look at the new NFU Action Center, sign up to become an Advocate of the Family Farmer, try some of the engagements (“Write a letter,” and “Tweet @ your representative”), and spread the word as best as you can.

New England Farmers Union Convention: Gearing Up for Success
Please save the date and plan to attend New England Farmers Union’s sixth annual convention, Gearing Up for Success, to be held at the Grappone Conference Center in Concord, NH, on Nov. 6-8. Attendees can expect informative workshops, engaging speakers, lots of chances to network, and the opportunity to participate in setting our policy priorities for the coming year. It’s truly democracy in action! Sponsorship information is here.

Between the NFU Action Center, the Legislative Fly-In, and our annual convention, you can bet we are strengthening farmers’ voices in Washington, D.C.! Thank you for being a part of it. Working together, we are — as our motto states — United for Family Agriculture. Join at www.newenglandfarmersunion.org.

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



October: National Co-op Month!

Visit www.nfca.coop/co-opmonth for resources for planning your celebrations!

Oct 18 – 21, 2015: “Co-operative Management Practices to Strengthen Identity, Loyalty, and Overall Business Performance”

The course takes place from Sunday October 18th to Wednesday October 21st at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. It focuses on leading thinking in co-operative management and pairing those learnings with tangible examples using open dialogue and case study work. There will also be guest presenters providing sector specific expertise creating a very well rounded few days. Further details are included in the link below and I’ve attached a brochure with this email that explains each day of the course in more detail:


Oct 24, 2015: Neighboring Food Co-op Association Fall Member Gathering

Member co-ops of the Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA): Save the date for our annual Fall Gathering, including workshops, presentations and peer to peer networking opportunities. For more information, e-mail: info@nfca.coop.

Oct 31 – Nov 1, 2015: North American Students of Co-operation Annual Institute

Common Interest: Co-ops Investing in Community Wealth. Since 1977, NASCO’s Cooperative Education & Training Institute has been widely recognized as one of the most important training and networking opportunities available to members, directors, staff and managers of group-equity cooperatives. The annual NASCO Institute is always a one-of-a-kind opportunity to network with hundreds of cooperative leaders and employers, to caucus about pressing issues, and to work on building an inclusive and accessible cooperative movement.


Nov 6-8, 2015: New England Farmers Union Annual Meeting, Concord, NH


 Nov 11-15, 2015: Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (NESAWG)


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