Thursday, December 11, 2014

Give the Gift of the Co-op!

Co-op Friends! What a thrill it is to realize that we have doubled our member numbers since last holiday season! In order to keep up our momentum, consider this year buying a membership for someone with a cooperative spirit on your gift list. For two consecutive years, my partner Nathan and our daughter Isadora have given the gift of the co-op to close friends whom we knew were committed to ethical consumer practices. Rather than to distribute gifts that we can surely thrive without, why not give someone a gift that invites them into our cooperative venture, a gift that promises more sustainable ways of nurturing ourselves, our communities, and our environments?

This year, co-op gift parcels can be purchased at three of the Co-op’s favorite local shops in Richmond: 

Bizarre Market located during the holiday season upstairs in Chop Suey Books at 1317 West Cary Street, where a small abundance of locally made holiday treasures will delight you – from tree ornaments to chopping blocks, from jewelry to poster art. 

Harvest Grocery & Supply at 1531 W Main Street, where local and sustainable food and drink are accompanied by beautiful housewares and cookbooks. 

Na Nin at 101 S Addison Street, where you will discover earthy fragrances, artisanal body products, and a finely curated selection of new and vintage clothing. 

Pick up a co-op gift membership at any of these fantastic local businesses as you peruse some of the very best goods that RVA has to offer. 

And of course you can always purchase a gift membership online! We will make arrangements for delivery before Christmas.

Happy holiday, friends!

-Julietta Singh, Co-op Board Member

Monday, December 8, 2014

Co-op Cohorts: The Fan Report

When I relocated to Richmond in the fall of 2013 for a new job, it became immediately obvious that exciting things were happening in the area.  I had moved from a city in Florida with few healthy and socially-conscious food-purchasing options, and I was thrilled to learn about the up-and-coming Richmond Food Co-op.  Over the course of this past year, it has been truly inspiring to witness the increasing momentum generated by the Co-op and its activities, and to be part of a very passionate group of people who are highly dedicated to bringing socially responsible, affordable, and healthy food options to the Richmond area.  The more we can get the word out and increase awareness of the Co-op and connections between community members, the more quickly we can open its doors!

With this in mind, I am also the organizer of the Fan neighborhood Cohort, which seeks to bring together Co-op members and guests who live in the Fan neighborhood for social and networking gatherings.  It’s a really fun way to get to know other like-minded community members with similar interests and to share ideas about how to increase engagement in and awareness of the Co-op.  We will be having our FIRST kick-off event this coming Thursday, December 11th, 2014:  together with the East End Cohort, we are hosting a Holiday Cocktail Hour at the beautiful Jefferson Hotel.  Come out to see the holiday decorations and meet some cool people!  Everyone (both members and non-members) is welcome—you don’t have to live in the Fan or the East End to attend, and feel free to bring any guests you’d like! 

Details:  Jefferson Hotel, TJs lobby bar, 101 W. Franklin Street, Richmond.  5:30pm-7:00pm

Hope to see you there!
-Karen Dyer, Fan Cohort Leader

Monday, November 24, 2014

In Our Own Words: Member Testimonial (Mark L.)

Why am I a member of the Richmond Food Coop? In addition to a love of food, social justice, and cooperative models, I feel passionately about the power of stories. Each of us brings our own stories to the table and we build community by sharing them with one another. Food brings us together, but what we share with each other through the stories we tell constitutes a meaningful solidarity. A great example in recent memory is the Co-op Book Club where we have enjoyed great food all the while creating good memories and stories.

Growing up in Central New York where I was fortunate to have a caring family taught me the value of family and community. As my grandma would say, “We didn’t have much, but we had each other.” I agree that what is most important is having each other. Grandma Hole (yes that is my Mom’s maiden name) was the matriarch of our family. This woman was a force in and of herself. Not only could she prepare enough food for big family gatherings during the holidays, but she would also invite any person she knew to their tiny home if she thought they might be alone for the holiday. To me there was always a kindness about her that could never be replicated. During those times when we would go over to my grandparents’ house my Mom, brother, and I would always be the first to arrive and the last to leave. I realize now that this was my Mom’s opportunity to actually sit down to talk and to share what was going on in their lives before everyone showed up. I loved to sit and listen to them talk about relatives and how they were doing and “catching up” or telling stories of the past. I believe that my Mom wanted to absorb as much of her parents’ life and their stories before they were not here to share it with her anymore. We would all go to my grandparents for a meal and to indulge in those comfort foods that we enjoy during the holiday season, but it was the time and the stories we shared that made the holidays special. My grandparents were of that generation that lived through the depression where they saved everything they could but also realized that if they had the means they would always give to those less fortunate.  I learned the value of giving from my family and this is something I hold dear to me as I see a world where people increasingly focus on themselves and not others.

I joined the Co-op because I believe in family and community. Our social fabric is being constantly assaulted. It is reaching a point where we might never be able to regain the sense of community, family, and empathy that is so desperately needed. This is my opportunity to do my best to mend our social fabric by sharing my life, my stories and myself. I want people to know they are not alone and that together we can mend the fabric of our community by sharing our stories and lives with one another. My grandma would be proud of me and all of us.

Thanks to Michele for providing me the opportunity to share my story with other Co-op members. I will always miss my home state of NY, but I have my new family here in Richmond with Tracy Citeroni, two dogs, a cat, and the Co-op.

-Mark Lewis, Co-op Member/Owner

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Giving Thanks: The Co-op Way!

And when you crush an apple with your teeth, say to it in your heart, "Your seeds shall live in my body, And the buds of your tomorrow shall blossom in my heart, And your fragrance shall be my breath, And together we shall rejoice through all the seasons.” 
-Khalil Gibran

Gratitude happens when we slow down and find space to appreciate the things that sustain us. Thanksgiving is perhaps the perfect Co-op holiday - a tradition rich with gratitude and the underlying premise that cooking and eating together is an expression of love. Our Co-op community is bound by a vision that what and how we eat matters in ways large and small. 

This Sunday brings our 2nd Annual Co-op Potluck - a pre-Thanksiving treat in which our larger Co-op community to comes together to celebrate. Let's cook for each other, eat together, and give thanks for this ever growing Community that is changing Richmond's food future. Join us for a feast of a celebration! 

If you can't read the last one it says: Co-ops make the world a better place!

-Michele Lord, Co-Founder & Project Manager

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Grow Your Board!

Every election is determined by the people who show up. - Larry J. Sabato

Election day is here! And what's even better than casting your vote for your state and local representatives? Casting your vote for your Co-op. This week marks the last in an open call for nominations to our democratically elected board, with elections coming at our next annual meeting in January. 

This isn't your average grocery store - this is YOUR grocery store. We are a 100% locally owned and governed business that puts ownership in the hands of its members. Members of the Richmond Food Co-op participate in the governance of the organization through this all important process of electing board members to represent them. What's more, all member/owners are invited to go a step farther and put their own names in the hat to run for office. Nomination forms are due by Friday, November 7th.

Not a member/owner yet? By joining now you have the opportunity to shape our next stage of development. Make this Co-op yours - own it today.

Vote today for the future of your city, state and country. Vote in January for your Co-op and community. 

-Michele Lord, Project Manager

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Co-op Cohorts: Museum District North (NOKEN) Report

It is an exciting time to be living in Richmond!  Richmond has come a long way as a city and community just in the past 10 years to the point where it is today. The vibrancy of the city is being felt far and wide as can be seen in the numerous accolades Richmond has been featured in; Frommer’s Top Destinations for 2014, Forbes Up & Coming Cities for Entrepreneurs, Road Runners Club of America Runner Friendly Community.  Here in Richmond, we take pride in our food and like feeling of being part of something local.   From breweries, farmers markets, to creative cuisine, Richmond seems to embrace the want for locally sourced goods.

Being part of the Richmond Food Co-op will allow Richmond to once again have a community owned grocery store where they can shop for their local goods in a one stop spot.  As the winter months approach and the Farmers Market Season winds down it makes the need for a Food Co-op in Richmond even more important.    Being part of your local cohorts is also really important as we start to build a community feel for our food co-op. 

Myself, Kristina Preisner, and my boyfriend Ben Kusterer are the leaders of the North of Kensington neighborhood. We look forward to meeting you at future events, including our very first get together - a happy hour at Ardent Craft Ales tomorrow night (6-8pm)! We are hoping to meet many Co-op neighbors but also welcome anyone from our larger Co-op community (members and non-members alike; neighbors and not) to join us. 

-Kristina Preisner, NOKEN Cohort Leader

Co-op Cohorts are a new initiative of small neighborhood communities amongst our Co-op membership base. As we near 600 member/owners we want to ensure that you still have the opportunity to create meaningful relationships and networks amongst your fellow members. Our leadership team is growing with 6 Cohorts formed hosting get togethers. Each month we will take the opportunity to introduce you to the leaders and neighborhoods who make up our larger Co-op community. We are still looking for representation in a few pockets of town so email us if you're interested in getting involved!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Co-op Cohorts: Northside Report

My name is Brenna Wade and my boyfriend, Ken, and I joined the Richmond Food Co-op because we believe in really being a part of our community.  We are big supporters of small business and would find ourselves traveling here and there to stores and farmer’s markets for local bread, eggs, and different types of produce.  Both back in graduate school and busy with work and other activities, we found ourselves wishing there was a one stop shop full of local foods and that supported and gave back to the community in a way that convenient big box stores do not.  Needless to say, when we heard about the Richmond Food Co-op we joined right away! 

While we moved to the Northside neighborhood of Bellevue for a number of reasons, what really sold us was the deep-rooted bond between neighbors and active community.  As the neighborhood cohort for members north of Laburnum in Bellevue, Ginter Park, Rosedale, and Lakeside, I will be working hard to ensure that your voices are heard and am excited to bounce ideas off of you on how to root the Co-op deeper into our own communities.  I am excited to meet with all of my Northside neighbor co-owners and with those who simply want to learn more about it.  I will be working with the Bellevue Merchant’s Association and will be planning monthly events aimed at bringing the Co-op and the Northside together.

Now it’s your turn!  Get involved and work with fellow co-owners however you can and most importantly spread the word to those neighbors who haven’t heard of the Co-op yet.  We get closer to opening our doors with every new member that joins in our community.  If you would like to become more involved in any way or to become a Cohort for your individual neighborhood, contact Michele and let her know!  Hope to see all of you Northsiders at our first meet and greet on October 26th! 

-Brenna Wade, Co-op Member/Owner & NoLa Northside Neighborhood Cohort Leader

Monday, September 22, 2014

Co-op Cohorts: Museum District Report

Co-op Cohorts are a new initiative of small neighborhood communities amongst our Co-op membership base. As we near 600 member/owners we want to ensure that you still have the opportunity to create meaningful relationships and networks amongst your fellow members. Our leadership team is growing with 5 Cohorts formed and planning their initial get togethers. Each month we will take the opportunity to introduce you to the leaders and neighborhoods who make up our larger Co-op community. We are still looking for representation in a few pockets of town so email us if you're interested in getting involved! 

I recently moved from Church Hill and now make the Museum District my home. I look forward to not only meeting my new neighbors, but also my fellow Richmond Food Co-op members who live nearby.  I met recently with my new neighbor, and fellow member, Kristin Klein who is helping to lead our neighborhood cohort.  We are planning some events for this year as well as the next, in hopes that we can create a stronger bond amongst our members while exploring new ways to recruit others.  Our first event will take place next month at the VMFA.  We hope to bring our members together for a picnic in the sculpture garden. The invite will be coming soon! 

In November we hope to have a follow up at the VMFA, with a food related art tour that is part of the upcoming Flour and Fork event.  I highly encourage everyone to further explore the upcoming Fire, Flour and Fork event.  It is a weekend food event like no other Richmond has seen, that blends the best of Richmond’s culinary scene through lectures, dinners, tours and demonstrations. We are blessed to have so many festivals, award winning restaurants, parks, breweries, and markets in which we can all find time to gather and share new ideas for making our Co-op the best that it can be.  

We are so very fortunate to be living in a city that is part of a culinary revolution.  Our local establishments are receiving an unprecedented amount of national and international acclaim.  Let’s make our Co-op part of this momentum.  Meet with your fellow members, form new friendships, spread the word about how much better our city can be once we are able to walk through those doors and have the local bounty at our finger tips!

-Brett Hunnicutt, Co-op Member/Owner & Cohort Leader

Friday, September 12, 2014

Community Forums Are Back!

Have you heard the word? Community Forums are making their fall debut next Wednesday, September 17th at 6:30pm! This month we will meet at Gather (409 E. Main Street). The forums are free, open to the public, and the best way to get in the know about Richmond's food future. If you're not a member yet come join us (and join us!) for an overview of cooperative principals, the benefits to having a co-op in Richmond, and the reason that membership = ownership.

If you are a member help us spread the word - our Community Forums are the best way to grow our membership because once people know about the Co-op how can they not want to join?! Invite your friends to become a part of the movement.

Also, any existing members who want to get involved can join us at the same time and place for a Co-op Cohort Ambassador meeting. It's time to get back to your Co-op!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

In Our Own Words: Member Testimonial (Kristen K.)

As a Richmond transplant, setting down roots and finding my place within the community is an ongoing process. Finding good food options has been the same. That is why when I saw the Co-op booth at the Boulevard Pumpkin Festival last fall, joining was a no brainer. 

Let me give you a little background. I came to Richmond via Durham via New York City via Southern California. All of those places have especially developed food scenes and a passion for fresh, local produce. It was a combination of caring about what was going into my body, about the effects of producing that food on the environment, and reducing my overall carbon footprint that led me to the cooperative concept in NYC. 

What a great idea! A member-owned grocery store: a democratic approach to the food that we are putting into our bellies. A way to see first-hand the decisions that go into how food gets into the aisles: from working with farmers, to being able to provide produce in the off-season, to operating efficiently so that your doors can remain open. A way to be involved in the food process, and not just by what foods I choose to buy at the farmer’s market or grocery store.

And so when I saw that there was going to be a co-op starting in Richmond, I knew that I had to be a part of it. I signed up immediately after receiving the brochure. And now the hardest part is waiting for the rest of Richmond to realize how incredible a co-op is for the community and JOIN THE MOVEMENT! Because I want a storefront today!

-Kristin Klein, Co-op Member/Owner

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Self Responsibility: The Co-op Way

"Action springs not from thought, but from a readiness for responsibility." -Dietrich Bonhoeffer

One of the underlying values of any cooperative is the importance of self responsibility. This is both an empowered and empowering movement because it relies on an expanded definition of ownership, which includes participation. Simply put, a cooperative is a group of people electing to work together to own a business that meets their needs and truly reflects their shared commitment and values. 

The Richmond Food Co-op was built on the premise that we couldn't wait around for somebody else to bring us the grocery store of our dreams, but rather, that the impetus was on us to make it happen.  Who is this "us"? It started with Susan and me. It grew to 15 steering committee members. It grew to 5 original board members and a core group of 25 volunteers. It has grown to 550 member/owners. It continues to grow every day. We are all equally responsible for getting our doors open. Owning a cooperative can be as transformative to the individual members as to the community at large - but it requires commitment and involvement. It requires you. 

Taking responsibility for your co-op is as rewarding as it is an act of patience and persistence. It can expand your network and friendships, and it can push you to have deeper conversations about what you value with those people you already know. It can give you a new application for your skills and expertise, and it can make you realize new hidden talents you never knew you had. It can be a thrilling realization that you are capable of making lasting change and connections, and it can be a daunting task to get to the finish line. You make all the difference in getting us there. Own your co-op. 

Interested in becoming a leader?
The Co-op is forming neighborhood cohorts and looking for leaders to help promote communication, plan get togethers, and generally facilitate member connections amongst Co-op neighbors. Email to become a part of this leadership core.

Interested in expanding membership? Grow the Co-op in a fun and personal way - invite your friends and family over and have a member party. A Co-op representative will join you and help answer questions but most importantly you will have the opportunity to tell those you love why you love the Co-op! Email to set up a date and time.

Not yet a member/owner? Own this Co-op today - join now!

-Michele Lord, Co-founder & Project Manager

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Know Your Board: Tom Karnes

This is me and my wife Susie at one of our traditional Thanksgiving celebrations. We have a group of friends from college who get together at our house each year along with whatever family happens to be in town. We meet at our house since I am the best cook of our group, although many assist. It is a real  "Big Chill"  weekend. Last year we came up with 29 dishes, mostly vegetarian. Susie, who makes the pies, would say that this is a bit "over the top" but what can I say, I am passionate about food and occasionally get carried away.

My interest in the Food Co-op comes from my passion for food. I love everything about food. I love growing it, preparing it, learning it, teaching  it, shopping for it, writing about it, serving it,  cooking it and of course eating it. My favorite dishes tend to be ethnic dishes like Thai and Indian dishes but I cook and have cooked just about everything including Norwegian Baccalau (salted cod and potato stew) shown in the picture below.

I wish I could say I have always been a natural healthy food guy but I have not. I have always loved fatty flavorful foods. As my interest in quality food has intensified, and I have been forced by age to pursue a more healthy diet and lifestyle, I have become nearly militant about avoiding overly processed food and have become a seeker of  vendors that I can trust to provide me with fresh  high quality and healthy foods at a fair price. Admittedly, this has become easier of late, except for the fair price part, because of the  movement toward healthier foods. I have been extremely troubled by the predominance of  over preserved, de-flavorized and nutritionally deficient food that is made available to us by high volume producers through our neighborhood supermarkets. I am appalled by the way foods are promoted as healthy in the media as "sugar free", "non fat",  "lite" and so on. The US FDA has done a good job with labeling for the most part, except for  things like genetically modified ingredients, and product ignorance prevails even for those who spend the time to read labels. The answer to this is local sourcing from responsible producers and that is what co-ops can do so well.   

Although affordable high quality food is the main issue for me, I have learned the Co-op is also about helping the community, volunteerism, social responsibility and a sense of belonging.

It is about maintaining the right balance between the economy and the ecosystem. These are all values your board is dedicated to. In this, my first year serving on your board, I have participated in a number of events and have found our members to be delightful people. I can assure you, our board is very competent,  fun to work with and focused on our common goal of opening a highly successful co-op as soon as possible.

-Tom Karnes, Co-op Board Member

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

In Our Own Words: Member Testimonial (Cynthia S.)

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one
“Imagine” by John Lennon

I admit being an idealist and a dreamer, and I now know I am not the only one! Since joining the Richmond Food Cooperative, I have met and continue to meet others who are willing to commit to and invest in a shared dream. We are a diverse group, a collection of ages, races, ethnicities, yet we share a common vision of a new possibility. We envision a business centered not on maximizing profit, but on maximizing the benefits to the community in which we live. The Richmond Food Cooperative promises a new way of “doing business,” empowering and enriching our entire community both individually and communally. 

Shortly after joining the Richmond co-op, I visited the Weaver Street Market Cooperative in Carrboro, NC (thank you, Tracy Citeroni, for telling me to do so!) Weaver Street Market (WSM) is over twenty-five years old and has more than 14,000 members with three locations. It is a model of what we might dream of being one day. While exploring the produce department, I found myself in conversation with Charles, a member/employee of WSM. He knew all about our nascent effort to create the Richmond Food Cooperative. He shared with me his passion about the power of cooperatives to change our economy. After a career in the Massachusetts legislature, Charles became convinced that cooperatives have the potential to bring greater positive change to our economic structure than any legislative efforts. 

Marjorie Kelly, Associate Fellow at the Tellus Institute, voices a similar view of the power of cooperatives. She describes cooperatives as a piece of an emerging “generative economy.” An economy where “economic activity is no longer about squeezing every penny from something we imagine that we own. It’s about being interwoven with the world around us. It’s about a shift from dominion to community.” * 

If you are not yet part of our Richmond Food Cooperative community of five hundred dreamers, please come dream with us! If you are one who has already invested in the dream, keep spreading the word of what we can do together! 

-Cynthia Schmitz, Member/Owner

* “The Economy Under New Ownership: How Cooperatives are Leading the Way to Empowered Workers and Healthy Communities”, Yes! Magazine, Spring 2013

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Know Your Board: Tim Vidra

Coming clean on this post — before learning about the Richmond Food Co-op and becoming an owner I do not ever recall stepping foot into a cooperatively owned grocery store. Of course, that has changed and I have visited several in my travels over the past couple of years, growing to love and advocate for the Co-op concept here in Richmond.

So, what have a I learned serving on the board and becoming a part of this positive movement in Richmond? Well, quite a bit and I'm excited to share the major points that have resided with me:

1. Did you realize we are surrounded by Co-op's in Maryland, DC, North Carolina, and Virginia, but have yet to open one in Richmond? Yeah, we need to change that.

2. Co-op's are all about volunteering and working in the community! I can't tell you how much I've learned about Richmond and the new friends I've made through volunteering opportunities with the Co-op. Here's a favorite shot from the group of us volunteering at Feedmore's Community Kitchen and another from our visit to Shalom Farms here in Richmond:

Richmond Food Co-op volunteering at Feedmore

Dominic Barrett of Shalom Farms during the Co-op volunteer day

3. Co-ops are all about giving back to the community! One of my favorite holiday memories was having the opportunity to help cook a Thanksgiving meal for a family in need through the Co-op's efforts this past season:

2013 complete Thanksgiving meal donation

4. Co-op's are about working with local farmers so we know where are food comes from! I met Josiah and his family of Lockhart Farm through the Co-op — learn more about Josiah, another board member in this post.

Josiah, Jocelyn, and Alexander of Lockhart Family Farms

5. Member owned Co-op's are about educating and giving owners a voice in their grocery store. I couldn't be more excited for this opportunity in Richmond.

Richmond Food Co-op's first annual member meeting

Finally, and most importantly, the Richmond Food Co-op is about fellowship, open minded conversations and engagement surrounding our community, our local economy, and the local, seasonal, organic, and ethical means our farmers use to bring food to our store and ultimately the table for our families.

Co-op 2nd annual picnic

If you would like to be a part of this growing grocery here in RVA you can become a member here. You can also gift a membership (hint: Father's day is Sunday), or you can help with our indiegogo campaign by making a contribution or sharing it with your friends and family to help spread the word.

To stay in touch with the Richmond Food Co-op follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Tim Vidra Vice-Chair, Richmond Food Co-op

Friday, June 6, 2014

Crowdsource Us

The Co-op recently launched an IndieGoGo crowd with a goal of raising $10,000 to match the seed grant funding we received from the Food Co-op Initiative. 

Here's the rundown of why getting this funding, and ultimately getting the Co-op itself up and running, benefits us all.

Co-ops Are Great Because...

They offer a member-owner model that allows people to shop with their values and benefit from it. The Richmond Food Co-op is focused on making it easy to get healthy, sustainable and affordable food. Even better? The cooperative brings together an engaged community to make it happen. We are a truly community grown venture united by a common vision of creating a better food future for Richmond.
Simply put, we are working to open a full-service grocery store that stocks real food that you can trust. 

  • There is a democratic process that governs the business which means each member has real impact.
  • Start-up co-ops that open are more likely to succeed than traditional businesses because there is already a loyal and invested customer base.

  • Food + Community = Co-op 

    The Richmond Food Co-op will be a 100% locally owned, 100% locally governed grocery store focused 100% on supporting our local farmers, economy and community; not to mention increasing affordability of good food through a member/owner model.

    This Co-op is Great Because...

    This idea grew from two friends, to a group of 15 pioneering steering committee members, to a family of nearly 500 Member/Owners which continues to grow every day. We are half way to our goal of 1000 member/owners to open!

    There is momentum and interest fueling this venture forward - our roots are strong and we have a large social media following, earned media coverage, and recognition from the larger cooperative community.

    We are an organized and results driven group with 7 talented Board Members,a committed and passionate Project Manager and a dedicated volunteer force.

    Richmond is Ready!

    We have recently received a $10,000 seed grant to help fund our start up costs and we need your help to match the funds! 

    Help Fund THIS Campaign Because...

    This venture demonstrates that when self-responsibility and care for community come together great things happen. We urge you to lend your support and contribute to make this great thing happen.

    Plus there are some great things you can look forward to with your donation - from stylish Co-op wear to yummy dinners with Co-op Board members. 

    Like What You've Heard?

    Watch this quick video for even more compelling reasons to give.

    Contribute today!

    Don't forget to tell your friends! Tell your family! Tell your neighbors! Shout it from the rooftops. Help us get out the word about the Co-op (and the campaign). It's a quick and easy way to help get the Richmond Food Co-op open. 

    Tuesday, May 27, 2014

    In Our Own Words: Member Testimonial (Inderdeep H.)

    I joined the Co-op because I love healthy food. I came across the Richmond Food Co-op at a First Friday a while back, where they had a booth. It sounded like a very interesting grass roots initiative. I signed up for their mailing list. I received emails about their events such as pot lucks, meet and greet happy hours and their efforts to grow the membership through such initiatives. I thought to myself – “hey these guys have very fun events”. So, I decided to go one of their information sessions. Susan and Michele made their pitch – and I was sold! I became the 300th member/owner and I am a proud card carrying member of the Co-op!

    I grew up in India – where it was not uncommon to go pick up fresh produce from the small market or a cart outside a local farm on a daily basis. The fruits and vegetables tasted delicious and distinct. The colors and the smells are so deeply ingrained. When I came to the US, and got vegetables from the grocery store – I wondered why the vegetables were so tasteless!

    I try to eat healthy and believe that local organic sustainable food is a key to that lifestyle. Food should not be transported thousand miles across the country. The key things about the Co-op that are very attractive to me is other than their mission to open a grocery store selling affordable and healthy food, is their entire supply chain – collaborating with local farms and other like-minded businesses. Additionally, the process is democratic and we are all co-owners. What more could you ask for?

    I really enjoy spending time with the members of the Co-op, they are engaged and informed and fun to be with. There is diversity in their backgrounds and a wide age range. The founders are passionate about the values of the Co-op and so are many of the members. I would strongly encourage non-members and fence sitters to take the plunge, so that we can have a community of a thousand members or more. We then will all be able to enjoy great affordable food from the Co-op and make some delicious meals!

    -Inderdeep Huja, Co-op Member/Owner

    Tuesday, May 13, 2014

    Know Your Board: Kelsey Miller

    The reason the Co-op's vision resonates with me is simple: I see it as a way for Richmonders of all socioeconomic standings to get fresh, local produce onto their plates while keeping dollars in their wallets. If you’re on the receiving end of our monthly board updates and you attend our monthly meetings, then you know how we’re all working towards that common goal.  

    So how do we live our food values until opening day? Here are three ways that I’m using my dollar to vote for good food pre-Co-op.

    1. Put a Plant In It: There are few living situations that are completely devoid of growing opportunities. From Chia Pets to full-fledged raised garden beds, there’s a gardening method that’ll suit just about any house setup.

    The Problem: Alas, one cannot live on basil and tomatoes alone.

    The Solution:  The Co-op provides Mozzarella to make a caprese diet a little more manageable.

    2. Sharing is Caring: Richmond has so many great options when it comes to community shared agriculture, making this the perfect base around which to build meals.

    The Problem: The CSA calendar only gets us so far and then we’re left cold and hungry in the months of December, January and February.

    The Solution: Even when winter weather necessitates buying products that are a little more preserved than fresh veggies and fruits, the Co-op means we can continue to support local vendors.

    3. Breaking the Chain: Again with the Richmond love--we have so many options for restaurants that are locally sourced, making it easy to skip the chains and go local.

    The Problem: These local restaurants need to know that this is what their diners want if they’re going to keep moving closer and closer to being 100% locally sourced.

    The Solution: Supporting a thriving, successful Co-op--and moving away from Big Box stores--means that we as individuals and as a community can make our food values heard, continuing this move towards 100% local sourcing.

    To sum it all up, you are what you eat and I see the Co-op as making all of us member/owners local, sustainable and healthy.

    -Kelsey Miller, Board Treasurer