Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Earth Day Principles

Earth Day.  Earth Week.  Earth Month.  Earth Year.  
As this formal celebration of our home planet winds down, let's reflect on our actions, decisions, and commitments to the environment.  We are indeed charged with the responsibility of making changes that will help align our values with our conduct.  Our industrial food system as it is today is loud, big, and destructive.  We know that.  Food cooperatives remediate this impact by exchanging it for locally grown, sustainable, healthy, happy produce and products. 

A big welcome to Giles, one of our new Earth Day member/owners

It’s time to do your best for our bitty part on the Earth called Richmond.  If you haven’t yet become a member/owner of the Richmond Food Co-op, the time is now.  For those of you who have already made this commitment, refer a friend.  Act out your Earth Day principles.
Eat:  Fresh food.  Eat it.
Act:  Don’t stand by the sidelines.
Recycle:  Co-ops are great recyclers.  
Together:  Cooperation is where it’s at.
Healthy:  Food. Mind. Body.  
Decision:  If you have the choice, make the right one.
Affordable:  Shop at the Co-op, knowing you are paying a price that’s as low as possible.
Yours:  And Mine.  And Ours.  The Co-op belongs to us all.
Growing our membership opens our doors. 
Next year let’s celebrate Earth Day together at the Co-op!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

i.e.* Finale

(Thanks to Danny Spry Photography for our member slide show and video below)

Last night's i.e.* Competition affirmed that Co-op equals community.  All of the finalists were there because they each received around a thousand online votes – and we thank you for yours!  Clearly there is power in the number of people who support our cooperative endeavor.  Also, we extend special gratitude to everyone who came to CenterStage to cheer.   Your enthusiasm truly captures the spirit of the Co-op.
Congrats to Jon Davidow - one of our first supporters - and his partners at Speakeasy for winning the competition! Congrats as well to finalist Zach Sisisky - one of our Pioneering Co-op Member/Owners - for an awesome presentation and all of the great things that his business the Richmond Autism Connection is planning to do. There were many inspiring business pitches in this competition, and it was pretty amazing to know that we were sharing that stage with another Co-op Member/Owner.
I value my Co-op. I am grateful for my Co-op community. I am proud of this venture that we are all a part of together.


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Spring Into Action!

Did you hear that winter's over?  The basil and the carnations cannot control their laughter. The nightingale, back from his wandering, has been made singing master over all the birds.  The trees reach out their congratulations. -Rumi

If you have ever met me, the least you could say is that I am enthusiastic, especially when I discover something amazing.  To me, the Richmond Food Co-op is beyond amazing!  When I met Michele Lord last fall, I practically flew to her side where she stood next to the trusty chalkboard announcing the news, “Food Co-op Coming Soon”.  I’ve had the privilege of working for the Co-op ever since.  

We have recently reorganized our original Steering Committee into a few sub committees focused on the Co-op’s most pressing needs at this point in the start up process – the Outreach Committee, Events Committee, Buy Local Committee and an Advisory Council. I am excited to Chair the Events Committee, as events are the most tangible (and fun!) way for us to stay connected to our growing community. We have many great plans in store in the coming months - it will be a busy spring and summer! Dates and details for all of our future events will be posted on our website and Facebook page.

Are you a member/owner and looking to lend a hand?  Consider becoming an official Co-op volunteer and help us spread the word at our events.  We are building a trained volunteer support team that we will call on to help promote and staff our events and we need your help! Email me at Frances@richmondfoodcoop.com if you are interested in learning more. It’s time to get busy and Spring Into Action!   Work with me to help make our dream into our reality! 

Additionally, we need our entire Co-op community to join us next Tuesday, April 16th for the i.e. Start Up Competition at Richmond CenterStage.  In addition to the grand prize of $10,000 there will be an audience vote for a $2500 award – your attendance matters! Tickets to the event are free - please register today. Please note that audience members will vote electronically – so be sure to bring a smart phone or laptop with you to the event. We look forward to seeing you there. 

-Frances Martin, Events Committee Chair

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Survey Results!

First of all, thank you to everyone who filled out our first survey!  Your input, whether through surveys, emails and Facebook, our community forums, or happy hours – is vital to our community effort of forming the Richmond Food Co-op.

We hosted a short survey in January and February to ask you where you shop for groceries, what you like about it, and what the Co-op can do differently and better.  Our final tally was 108 Richmonders!  Technical speak disclaimer:  108 is a big number to us, but in statistics it's small.  Also, because the survey was mainly promoted on the Co-op's blog and facebook page, these results don't represent all of Richmond, but an outspoken group of people interested in what we're doing here.  And outspoken you were!  Almost everyone left long comments, and we read every one.
First, we asked where you spend most of your grocery dollars now.  About half of you shop at traditional chain grocery stores.  Around 30% said you mainly shop at either specialty or local health food stores.  This suggests our crowd is already willing to try something different.

We asked you to rate your primary store on different aspects, and also overall.  Below are the average overall ratings in each case.  You told us chain and specialty chain groceries meet your needs “Somewhat well.”  Local and health food stores scored slightly higher.  The few customers of CSA’s/Online gave very high scores, as did Superstore customers.

Thinking about your primary grocery store:  

How well does the store meet your needs overall?  

1-Very Poorly, 2-Somewhat Poorly, 

3-Somewhat Well, 4-Very Well

# Listed as Main Store


Chain grocery (Martin’s, Kroger, Food Lion, Farm Fresh)



Chain specialty grocery (Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Fresh Market, Tom Leonards)



Local and/or health food store (Ellwood Thompson, Good Foods, Farm to Family, Libbie Market)



Farmers markets



Superstores (Wal-mart, Target)



CSAs and online buying opportunities (Fall Line Farms, Relay Foods)



Buying clubs (Costco, Sam's, BJ's)









We asked you to choose from a list of top factors you look for in a grocery store.  This tells us what we should focus on for the Co-op.  While quality, convenience, and price – that is, practical value – come first, Organic selection is as important as price to this group.  Organic was selected more often then Local, but there is more to this, as we’ll see later.

Next, let's look at the top six factors chosen. Among those who chose them as top factors, we have colored this chart by how well their current grocery store meets that need.  Though fewer people chose Local than Organic, they are relatively less satisfied with the Local selection at their stores than Organic shoppers are with their Organic selection.
Remember, the chart above showed satisfaction of just those listing Organic or Local as a top factor.  When we look at everyone who answered the survey, the difference is even more pronounced.  Over half of you said your need for local foods was somewhat or very poorly met at your current store (mostly poorly).  That's almost twice the dissatisfaction everyone reported with Organics. 

The last thing we asked you was what the Richmond Food Co-op could do differently that would make you want to shop there.  This question was open-ended, and most of you gave long, detailed responses.  While price was still at the top of the list, local food was the second-most mentioned.  The enthusiasm for supporting our local food economy is clear.  The Richmond Food Co-op has the opportunity to be a part of the solution here.  Our mission and guiding principles explicitly support this goal.

Specifically, we plan to open the store with as much locally-sourced food as we can.  Then we will set goals to increase that percentage each year.  As we get closer to opening, we will form a committee of member/owners who will work together to source products in the store.

Varied comments about having knowledgeable staff and a friendly atmosphere tell us that personality is important.  You also gave many specific requests for types of groceries, from a bulk aisle to organic or humanely-raised meats, fresh, in-season produce, and the ability to find most of your staples.  One in ten of you specifically said you were already familiar with food co-ops and are excited Richmond is forming one!

A few had questions about the Co-op's location, and food access equality throughout our city.  This is an important issue.  The Co-op's model is to be economically sustainable for its member/owners, while also being mission-driven.  We plan to partner with Richmond-area food-related non-profits.  We encourage your creative ideas.  You can read more here.

It is exciting that so many Richmonders share the vision for a community food co-op!  Everything you mentioned has been on our minds in the Steering Committee Meetings.  The most important step in shaping the Co-op is by joining – so if you’ve been considering becoming a member/owner do it today – membership is ownership!

Thank you!