Thursday, June 4, 2015

In Our Own Words: Member Testimonial (Herbert J.)

In my profession as an Episcopal priest, I have the opportunity to work with young people and am one of the leaders of our church youth group. One of the themes I have been trying to develop just a little over the past few months is how we take responsibility for the gifts we are given through our stewardship of our environment, both our social environment and our ecology. I have been emphasizing concepts like consumerism, sustainability and fair trade. When I saw that The Richmond Food Co-op was opening, I was delighted to be able to become a member and to “walk the walk” in these areas.

Of course, I have my own reasons for joining as well. I do want to live the life I extol, but I also want to be able to purchase the things I need with some assurances. I want to know that the product hasn’t traveled a great distance. I want to know that the persons on the other end of the transactions are getting a fair price and can pay a fair wage. I also want to save money myself!

It’s not that often that we get a chance to benefit personally from behaving altruistically. Being a firm believer in the reasonableness of mixed motives, I am happy to become a member of the Richmond Food Co-op and invite my fellow humans to do the same!

-Herbert Jones, Richmond Food Co-op Member/Owner

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Cooperative Principles

Founded on the principles of private initiative, entrepreneurship and self-employment, underpinned by the values of democracy, equality and solidarity, the co-operative movement can help pave the way to a more just and inclusive economic order. 
-Kofi Annan

At the heart of any cooperative venture there is a core set of guiding principles - the guidelines that help put our values into practice. The International Co-operative Alliance lays out a framework of 7 guiding principles that stem from the Rochdale Pioneers who started the movement in 1844.

These principles serve as the foundation upon which the Richmond Food Co-op is laying its roots. In the coming months we will be taking a deep dive into each -- bringing you a monthly blog post reflection on how our efforts put the principles in action.

Stay tuned and stay cooperative!

-Michele Lord, Co-Founder & Project Manager

Thursday, April 16, 2015

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

If you have ever had to brave the Ellwoods parking lot after work or on a weekend, then you will understand why Richmond needs more grocery store choices. The demand is there. And another big national brand like Whole Foods is not going to satisfy that desire for everyone. Not for me. I want a Richmond grown organization. Something that I can feel a part of and work together with my neighbors on. Something woven into the community. A grocery store that aggressively supports local vendors and farmers. Local products aren't just a feature on the end of an isle in the very back of the store. They are more than that. They are part of the mission statement and the focus.

I also want more value. Being part of a member owned store, I will eventually get return on my investment, that will help save me money on a small part of my groceries. There will also be featured specials for members and other opportunities to save and get more bang for my buck, while still eating healthy. I also appreciate the income based reduced pricing. Eating right should not just be for the wealthy and privileged.

The co op is also about a community of people. There are notifications about events and get togethers with people in my neighborhood. There is a book club and other opportunities to meet people I would have otherwise never come across. It brings people with a similar desire to make a difference through food, health, and well being, under one roof.

-Grant Hunnicutt, Richmond Food Co-op Member/Owner

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

In Our Own Words: Member Testimonial (Kathy T.)

I grew up on a farm in North Dakota. My parents (Mel and Vangie), 2 brothers (Russ and Rod), and I worked the farm. We raised cattle and chickens, grew crops and a big garden. I learned how to bale hay, butcher chickens, and can vegetables, amongst many other things just by growing up on my family’s farm. When I went off to college I had to buy meat for the first time. It was a quite the culture shock and confusing because I remember being in the store and thinking this meat doesn’t look at all like the meat I ate on the farm. But I had no choice and when I ate it I was not impressed because it wasn’t half as good as what I grew up eating and that had a real impact me. So when I heard of the Richmond Food Co-op the first thing that came to mind was hope. Hope that someday I could be eating the type of food I was familiar with eating as a kid.

I am a firm believer in supporting farmers. There aren’t many left and I want to help save them. By being a Co-op member I will be able to help the farmers stay in business and contribute to saving their livelihood. That was the driving force behind my decision to sign up as a member of the Richmond Food Co-op.

Who doesn’t want to know where their food is coming from? Who doesn’t want to eat food that hasn’t been sprayed with a bunch of chemicals? Joining the Co-op should be a no-brainer. Not only will you be helping save a farmer but you’ll feel good about yourself knowing that you’re contributing to something great and saving lives, yours included! We are currently almost 700 members strong but we need a 1000 to open our doors. Come on and join me...join the Richmond Food Co-op movement today! What are you waiting for?

-Kathy Tatum, Richmond Food Co-op Member/Owner

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

In Our Own Words: Member Testimonial (Doug P.)

“How strange is the lot of us mortals!  Each of us is here for a brief sojourn; for what purpose he knows not, though he senses it.  But without deeper reflection one knows from daily life that one exists for other people.”        -Albert Einstein

Indeed, we are on this earth for such a short period of time.    How are we going to allow our spirits to grow?  How are we going to self-actualize?  How are we going to make a difference? 

As I approach 60, it has become clear to me over the last few years that we make the biggest impact, the biggest difference – together.  We do it through collaboration, we do it through cooperation.  Is it difficult?  Is it challenging?  Indeed, without a doubt.  But the exponential impact of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts – is so absolutely fulfilling, so absolutely thrilling…that I’ve become a huge proponent of it.  To the point, that being a facilitative leader of it is what gets me up in the morning.  

Our community is so hungry for cooperation.  There is such a poverty of it in our region’s governments, our nation’s leaders and in our everyday dealings.  What better subject and focal point to lead our community in the practice of cooperation, than FOOD?

As a pretty simple guy who is privileged to help facilitate and lead FeedMore and the newly formed RVA Food Collaborative (the Food Co-op is a proud “member”), I was thrilled to learn more about the Richmond Food Co-op.  It brings together so much of what I care about - people working together for the common good and people who understand that food was the original medicine.  These same folks know that the reason many of FeedMore’s clients living in food deserts suffer from hypertension and diabetes is because of their lack of healthy and sustainable food!

I came to believe in and joined the Richmond Food Co-op for all of the above good reasons.  But I must also fully disclose that I’ve recently lost a lot of weight - weight that came about through stress eating and limited knowledge of any good, proper nutritional consumption practices.  Having worked hard to lose it – I have NO intention of gaining it back!

Can you imagine a better group of folks or organization to help shepherd me to a new lifestyle of healthy eating and living?  I have so much to learn, but am excited to know that there are many who will help.

So, indeed I’m thrilled to be a new member and looking forward to all that the Coop will bring to our community, my life and my health.  Here’s to OUR success!

“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.”  -Henry Ford

-Douglas Pick, Richmond Food Co-op Member/Owner

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Know Your Board: David King

As I start my 2nd term (3rd year) on the Board of the Richmond Food Co-op, I am focused on opening the store. 

Our membership number (650+) shows us to be rounding the clubhouse turn, with 800 members being the next furlong marker in the financing of our grocery store.  As cooperative, we need a critical mass of members to ensure that our member loan campaign can succeed; reaching our member loan target in turn will allow us to secure a commercial loan.  We also need a critical mass of members to ensure that we meet our sales projections once the store is open.

This year, the Board will take very seriously our role as your representatives as we commit the Co-op to a financing plan for opening the store.  Nothing could be more important.  We are confident that, with the assistance of Michele and our outside consultants from the Food Co-op Initiative, we can and will get this right.

As we enter the season of planting after a long winter – very enjoyable to those of us who love snow – I get a strong feeling (in addition to the numbers) that the Co-op grocery store will soon be a reality!

-David King, Richmond Food Co-op Board Member

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Know Your New Board: Annie Andrews

Like other Co-op members, I’m passionate about food. I love Saturday mornings at the Farmer’s Markets. I’ve been a member of CSAs in and around Richmond. I seek a connection to what I eat and where it comes from. And as the mom of an ADHD child, I know that the quality and purity of our foods makes a significant difference in our health and our lives. 

So when I first heard about the Richmond Food Co-op in March 2013, I immediately signed up. The idea of a local, community-owned enterprise was appealing for so many reasons. Over these next many months, I attended a few meetings, kept up with the email updates, and shared news with friends and family I thought would be interested in joining as well. But I’ll be honest, I wasn’t heavily involved. There were others with previous Co-op experience that seemed to really know what to do to get this Co-op idea off the ground. (And I couldn’t wait for them to do it!) But I wasn’t exactly sure how I could help more…until the call for new board members came out. (Way to jump right in, right?) But specifically, the call for members who have grocery and food experience caught my attention—this is how I can help!

“But what I do have are a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a very long career.”

You see, what makes me uniquely qualified to serve on the board is that while I’m crazy about food, I also know food, in particular the food industry. My entire working life has been the business of food. I’ve worked in restaurants, had a successful career in foodservice distribution, and am currently the Directory of Operations at FeedMore. In my career, I have negotiated marketing programs with national manufacturers, picked corn with local farmers, created recipes, managed inventories, purchased products, sold goods, and a whole lot more. I understand the logistical and operational needs to procure, transport, store, and distribute grocery products. (Move over chefs, that’s the sexy side of the food biz.) 

I believe there’s a wealth of experiences in all of us. I’m excited to share mine and learn about yours. We’re going to be owners in something together—that’s a big deal to me. If I want others to speak up with their ideas and to share their knowledge, then I recognize that I need to do the same. As the Co-op moves into the next phase of operations, I am grateful for the opportunity to share my experiences and be a voice for your ideas.

-Annie Andrews, Co-op Board Member

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Know Your New Board: Michael DeLano

I have been involved with co-ops all my life starting at the Lexington Co-op in Buffalo NY doing member hours with my mom and dad, and eventually working as the produce manager there for several years. I was introduced to Credit unions there and have supported worker owned and cooperative model business since. I also am an entrepreneur. I bought out the Homebrew supplies from the co-op when I left and opened my first business Mighty Niagara Brewer, a homebrew supply. I then melded that business into Campus WheelWorks a full service Bicycle shop doing $1 million in sales per year. My latest venture is Ardent Craft ales. I am an original co-op member of the brewers guild and an investor and Board of Directors member. This brewery in RVA is located in Scott’s Addition.

My current job is my dream job. I work for the best bicycle company in the world Giant Bicycle. I am an Account Executive for the DC, VA NC territories and love to ride. Sales is my passion and it melds well with my riding passion and vision of bicycles as the alternative transportation/recreation mode for modern life. I will bring my sales training abilities to the co-op so we can compete with a very competitive marketplace in RVA for groceries.

I am excited to be a part of the early development and implementation of the Richmond Food Co-op. Growing up in a co-op environment as a child I miss the membership and destiny we have with our food source. Richmond has been lacking this vital connection since I moved here in 1999. There are many options for consumers to simply buy their good food from corporations but the voice I had in making sure my ethics and ethos in my food choices is missing. I want to bring back that voice of membership to the food experience in Richmond.

-Michael DeLano, Co-op Board Member

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Know Your New Board: Kristin Klein

Hello!  If you are reading this post, it is because you share my passion for quality food and bringing a member-owned grocery store to Richmond (our first!)  You are also reading this post because you are concerned about doing what is best for the co-op and our future direction.  I want to give you an idea of what I will do for the co-op, and what values I stand behind in bringing this organization forward.

First let me address my values. Richmond needs an affordable, high quality, accessible, organic-minded grocery store (I say organic minded because I am a firm believer in local farmers who do not pay for the organic certification, but still practice all natural food production.)  I think those points are important to highlight – affordability (we need to be able to price our items correctly so that we can keep our doors open, but still be affordable to the majority), high quality and organic-minded – well, keeping pesticides out of our foods and bodies is so important to staying healthy.  

Second, in order to get to the point where we can open our doors, we need two things: 1) more members, and 2) more capital.  I have been working hard to get more members in the door, and continue to be an advocate of the Co-op to my friends, neighbors, and colleagues.  Two of my friends bought a membership to the Co-op as my birthday present! For the capital raise, we are planning to raise capital through a member loan campaign. With my background in Finance – 14 years in the financial services industry - I can help guide the Co-op through the process, and help foresee and prevent possible pitfalls.  

Third, and most importantly: I have been committed to the Co-op for well over a year, and have already planned and executed two successful community events.  Our first event brought more than twenty people to a tour of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and our second event was a fun happy hour at the Cask Cafe.  I have been out there helping in whatever way I can.

-Kristin Klein, Board Member