Welcome Spring with Soup and Parcheesi

Soon we’ll enjoy those harbingers of the local growing season—peas and asparagus.  In the meantime, eating local and seasonal ingredients has its challenges.  If you have tired of broccoli and kale then turn to fresh and lively flavors during this transitional period.  Lemon juice, fresh parsley or cilantro, and bright herbs banish the doldrums of winter for the promise of spring.

Planning for the week I found myself wandering around the produce department, looking for anything grown “locally.”  At best, I could hope for veggies grown on the eastern seaboard, in Florida or Georgia.  Green beans, zucchini and more!  To get a jump on the week it helps me to cook on the weekend.  That prevents the angst of figuring out dinner at the last minute on the busiest evenings of the week, provides lunch and gives the kids a go-to food instead of snacky junk.  When relaxed I am free to experiment and so I transformed a winter soup into the recipe below.

Parcheesi bd2How does Parcheesi fit in?  A bowl of soup on the table looks a bit lonely.  The garnishes included in this recipe will round it out a bit.  You can also add a fruit salad and/or cheesy garlic bread, staples in my meal planning to fill up older kids.  Otherwise this soup stands heartily enough on its own, which makes it perfect for dinner-and-a-game night.  Parcheesi pairs perfectly as it takes less than an hour to play and is suitable for all ages.  (I never bothered with “Sorry” but taught the kids Parcheesi, lent tips to the younger one as needed, and helped everyone develop their own strategy.)  Homemade soup, garnishes for everyone to create their own flavors, and a board game breaks the work-/school-week routine.

WELCOME SPRING SOUP                                     serves 4-6

3 T Olive oil 2 Red potatoes, 1” dice
2 medium Onions, ½” dice 1 Green pepper, ½” dice
4 cloves Garlic, crushed 1 zucchini, quartered and sliced 1”
2 – 15oz. cans Chickpeas Handful green beans, 1” pieces (1C)
½ – 15oz. can Diced Tomatoes (¾ C)
4 C Water
½ t. Salt
4 Bay leaves 4-6 Lemon wedges
1 T Marjoram Bunch Parsley, chopped
1 t. Thyme 1 C Plain yogurt
  1. Heat an 8-quart pot over high heat.  Add olive oil once heated.
  2. Reduce heat to medium and add onions.  Sauté 3-5 mins. until translucent.
  3. Add garlic and stir for 30 sec.
  4. Add chickpeas (with liquid), tomatoes, salt, herbs, potatoes, green pepper.
  5. Cover, bring to boil, reduce heat to low and simmer 30 mins.
  6. Add zucchini and green beans.  Cook 5 mins. more.
  7. Serve with garnishes of lemon, parsley and yogurt.

SUBSTITUTIONS

Making soup allows you to cook with what you have on hand.  Simple ingredient changes keep you from getting bored with the same flavors.  Here are some easy substitutions to make:

  • Chickpeas – Cannellini or navy beans; Pinto or Black beans (plus add 2t. cumin and put Cholula hot sauce on the table)
  • Potatoes – Parsnips or winter squash, starchy and sweet!
  • Marjoram – Thyme only (just 2t.) or Rosemary, chopped, (2t. only)

COOKING FOR ONE

Soup recipes work just as well halved.  For one person use 1 can of chickpeas, 1 potato, etc.  You can opt to use a whole green pepper or a whole zucchini only and eliminate the other.  Omit the tomatoes and add a parsnip for a sweet background flavor.

-Nancy Teasdale (Owner #294)

The 45th Anniversary of Earth Day

“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.”  ~Native American Proverb    (quotegarden.com)

Where were you on April 22, 1970?  I remember the excitement in my small town in Pennsylvania. There was going to be a demonstration with marching, music, and speeches on the nearby public square. Earth Day was launched on that spring day, in major cities and small towns all across the country.

History

Earthday.org remembers the day as one where 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies. Thousands of colleges and universities organized protests against the deterioration of the environment. Groups that had been fighting against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, the loss of wilderness, and the extinction of wildlife suddenly realized they shared common values.

The first Earth Day led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passages of the Clean AirClean Water, and Endangered Species Acts.

Otter artwork by Bruce Davidson (Owner #240)

Otter artwork by Bruce Davidson (Owner #240)

Today, the goals of Earth Day celebrations have not changed. There is a continued urgent need for each individual to do his or her part in protecting our planet for the next generation.

The Assabet Village Food Co-op envisions a community grocery store that will:

  • Practice economic and environmental sustainability
  • Empower our members to support the local economy and our local food producers

The Board of AVFCO and its owners intend to strive to make business decisions through an environmental lens. Supporting local farmers and food producers will be part of the Co-op’s mission. The Owners of the Co-op will also make decisions about how the grocery store can develop as a community resource. Join us and share your ideas.

Local Earth Day Celebration

The Assabet Village Food Co-op will be participating in the 45th anniversary festivities at the Musketaquid Earth Day celebration, on Saturday April 25 in Concord, on the grounds of Emerson Umbrella. Stop by our table, say hi, and learn more about AVFCO. There will be food, music, and activities for children and adults. See you then.

-by Hope Rubin (Owner #311)

To the Portland Food Co-op That Changed My Mind

Sign at Portland Food Co-opI was rushed after walking around downtown Portland in the rain with my teenage daughters.  My oldest, Nina, had worn the wrong shoes and her way of “breaking them in” was to have the back of her shoes rub until she was bleeding.  My youngest, Julia, was worn out from walking all over old town. We had planned to meet my Aunt and Uncle for lunch at noon and it was already 11 am. I was worried about wet, tired, frustrated daughters showing up to meet relatives they see only once a year.  How could a short visit to a Co-op in Portland change my mind about co-ops anyway?

My one and only visit to a food co-op was in the 70’s to visit the co-op my uncle (different uncle) worked at when he lived in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  It was tightly packed with weird food, it had the first bulk food dispenser I had ever seen and what appeared to me as stacks of over-ripe fruit.  As a young kid used to bright and shiny grocery stores, I just wanted to run away from that place.  When people mention food co-ops, that image from the 70’s has stuck in my mind and I wonder how many of us still have that same image of a packed, disorganized, hippie enclave.

I had just joined the Assabet Village Food Co-op the week before, and I so much didn’t want to feel let down with what I would find at the Portland Food Co-op.  Maybe we just ran out of time to visit the store I thought to myself.

“How about we stop on the way over to see your Aunt & Uncle?” my daughters asked.  I couldn’t believe they really wanted me to see the Co-op.

Portland Food Co-op Outside“Are you guys sure?” I asked tentatively.  They weren’t particularly interested, but they knew how much it meant to me.  And in that moment, I knew how much they loved me.  So off we went, zig-zagging through the streets of downtown Portland to find a very contemporary store next to a dry cleaners and a Rite-Aid.  Immediately I noticed the big, clean parking lot and the clean, welcoming look of the store. This did not look anything like my uncle’s hippie food co-op in Grand Rapids.

In the foyer, a huge sign greeted us with all the local farms and suppliers that supported the co-op which opened up right into the fresh fruit & vegetable displays.  “How can I help you?” offered the closest employee.  Immediately I was overwhelmed by how clean, neat, and modern everything looked.

Even my daughters slowed down to check out the displays and interesting items.  Our last item on the checklist turned into a family sharing event.  They found familiar favorites and new, interesting things to try next time we visited.  Me too!  They had the all familiar bulk food dispenser (although much nicer than my uncle’s) and a great selection of local beers, but they also had a whole aisle for house supplies as well as a dedicated eating area.  We saw a whole new idea of what a food co-op really is complete with local, wholesome food and happy, helpful employees.

So why did it mean so much to me?

Bulk FoodOur family’s experience with food has not always been a healthy one.  My hippie uncle went on to be a well-known food sociologist, even writing a book on the subject.  Most of us, however, regarded him as the black sheep of the family.  The rest of us went on our merry way shopping at the market closest to us, begrudgingly accepting the transition from paper to plastic, and then from plastic to re-usable. My wife, Denise, was the food “leader” of our family trying to encourage wheat over white and local over imported.

I didn’t quite get it, always returning to my childhood favorites until my annual check-up with my doctor.  He wanted me to lose 40 lbs to get back to health.  Over a year later of eating differently from my family and I am almost there, but sometimes I just want to be normal, shop together with my family, and have a family meal together.

With a sort of desperation to find a solution for our entire family, the PortlandEatingSpaceAssabet Village Food Co-op appeared.  Was this my solution? So on this trip to ME, I didn’t want to feel let down with what I would find at the Portland Food Co-op.  And I wasn’t. And now I know that a Food Co-op can be the solution for our entire family.

And we created a memory together, not just a completed errand.  Thank you Portland Food Co-Op!

– By Rob Olney (Owner #326)

Winding Down but Revving Up

While we are starting to wind down in our current Ownership drive 100 New Owners in 100 Days, we are getting ready to rev up to party and celebrate community at our next fundraiser: Serendipity After Hours – Fundraiser for the Assabet Village Food Cooperative!

I Own My Grocery StoreThere are just 24 days remaining in our current drive and just 61 New Owners left to join for us to reach our goal!  That’s 2.5 New Owners a day (let’s round up or down, half Owners doesn’t seem wise or possible). We have a bunch of events coming up, but in the meantime, check out our webpage, reach out to a friend or neighbor – be the connection to the Co-op for the next Owner (or three)!

Why do we want to reach our goal you may ask?  Every stage in Co-op development is tied to our number of Owners.  More Owners equals more equity, more development, more people to help advance this initiative to open the area’s only store-front Food Co-op.  We are building a community of people through our connection to food: healthy, local, bright, delicious food!  Our market study is in development and this will give us statistics on possible sites in Maynard the store could be located.  The sooner we can follow this up with the next stage, the sooner our store will progress towards opening its doors. Becoming an Owner helps towards THIS ultimate goal.

Looking forward to seeing you on Thursday May 7th from 6-8:30pm at Serendipity Cafe (1 Nason St, Maynard) for a celebration of community, local food, and Co-op growth!

In the words of a powerful and wise being, “Do. Or do not. There is no try.” (Yoda, The Empire Strikes Back)  Meet the challenge and reach out to YOUR two people!

-Heather Nickle, Board of Directors

Springtime’s Promise: Red Hot Peppers and Cool Cukes

Yes, the winter has been constant, cruel, and snowier than ever.  However, spring and summer will arrive. Whether you plant your own or wait for the first farmers’ market, the object is the same: fresh, locally grown, colorful fruits and vegetables, crusty bread, relishes, and spectacular flowers.

What if you could be an Owner of an establishment that provided these things? You can! Owners of the Assabet Village Food Co-op are working to bring a cooperative grocery store to Maynard that will provide fresh locally produced food to our communities.

Cucumbers_317x336-(2)Get in on the ground floor and help to develop a permanent year-round Co-op grocery store in Maynard that will be brimming with fresh fruits and vegetables. Help to create and plan a vibrant grocery store that will bring nutritious goodness and will enhance our community spirit.

Invest in the Co-op by becoming an Owner and bring on the opportunity and goodness. We also welcome volunteers to learn how to get involved.

Right now, Co-op volunteers are busy as bees getting our new store out of the drawing room and onto Main Street (figuratively speaking). We’ve assembled a team of writers to bring you a blog with recipes, farmer profiles, and other food news every week. We’re also putting together a very long list of local farmers and food producers (who knew there were so many?) that we’ll be contacting over the next few months as we think about stocking the shelves in the future. Do you own a food business, or is there a producer you’d really like to see in our store? Tell us! Become an Owner and share your voice! You just might find it on the shelf when we open.

Enjoy these first days of warmth and sunshine.

– by Hope Rubin (Owner #311)

Connecting Over Food, Art, and Ice-Cream!

AVFCO Group Photo

AVFCO Group Photo

Saturday April 12 (2015) was a perfect afternoon to attend Ice Cream with the Coop at Reasons To Be Cheerful in West Concord, and kick-off the start of ice cream eating season! The Co-op set-up an information table in the back room, and we were happily surprised to be surrounded by an exhibit of witty vegetable artwork and photographs that benefit First Root Farm in Concord.

Enjoying great ice cream on a glorious day.

Enjoying great ice cream on a glorious day.

We were grateful to be hosted and supported by Reasons To Be Cheerful, a local business that cooperates with other local enterprises. A continuous stream of Co-op Owners and prospective Owners were in attendance, and we had great conversations about community and local food, welcomed some new Owners, answered questions, and signed up volunteers for future events.

Everyone seemed to enjoy chatting, and sampling the wonderful menu of grilled cheese sandwiches, ice cream, and locally roasted Karma Coffee. The Co-op really enjoys holding these community-building social events, and we’d love to hear about any other places where we should be!
Thanks for a great day!
-Kim Giovacco, Board of Directors

Beautiful Days, Fun Events, and Community Connections

The Co-op had a great showing of community and cooperation this weekend!  Check back for some upcoming posts about each of our events from those who taught or organized them.  In the meantime, the board wanted to publicly thank everyone who made our weekend of events so fantastic!

IMG_20150411_161004Ice Cream with the Co-op at Reasons To Be Cheerful on Sat (4/11) had over 2 dozen people attend, which included board members, new Owners, current Owners, and curious people.  We shared great ice cream, gooey grilled cheeses (it’s national grilled cheese month!), stimulating conversation, and meeting the members of our community. Thank you to Reasons To Be Cheerful and stop in to check out their selection of ice cream AND art work from their Vegetable Celebrity Show.  All proceeds benefit First Root Farm. This is a great example of communities support and connection, as was their hosting us for the day!

11146267_10100283602405859_407832495607203977_nOur Introduction to Foraging for Mushrooms class was sold out on Sun (4/12).  Attendees enjoyed learning about some common mushrooms that are safe, delicious, and easily identifiable.  Our instructor, Doug Sparks, shared his interest and knowledge with a packed room.  More info to come about this event soon! Thank you to everyone who donated to the Co-op.  Thank you Doug for your time, humor, and insights.

The Co-op also challenged our Owners to reach out to at least TWO new people to help us reach our 100 Owners in 100 Days Ownership goal.  We’ve seen great returns so far with Owners joining via the web, mail, and in person!  Every new Owner gets us one step closer to opening our doors – so keep reaching out to those you know via email, in person, or bringing them to one of our events.  SAVE THE DATE for a celebration of community cooperation at the end of our current Ownership drive that will be held at Serendipity Cafe in Maynard on Thur May 7th (after hours)!  Details coming soon (its going to be FUN!!!)!!

CoopYardSignFinalOh, and don’t forget to sign-up for your very own Support Local lawn sign to benefit and promote the Co-op!

Thanks to everyone who participated in our wonderful weekend of community connections and fun events!

-Heather Nickle, Board of Directors

100 Owners in 100 Days

As the weather warms, the Co-op is busy planning events and getting the word out about this initiative to start a village-style grocery store in the Metrowest/Assabet Valley region. We have a lot of exciting things coming up, and we hope to meet a lot of new people as well as see familiar faces.

I am challenging our 300+ Owners to reach out to at least TWO people you know and tell them about the Co-op.  We have a little over 30 days remaining in our 100 Owners in 100 days campaign and now just need 71 more Owners to finish it up. That’s 2 a day, and if everyone (300+ of you) reaches out to TWO people they know to join – we will not only reach out goal, but exceed it!  Don’t leave it to “the next guy”, reach out to TWO people yourself.
There are many things you can do:
  • Invite them to an event (we have many!)
  • take them out to coffee or a drink, or ICE CREAM; have them over for a meal
  • write them a personal note or email (I’ve been doing this)

Help us to inform people about why the Co-op is going to be so awesome for our area. Not yet an Owner,  come find out yourself on Saturday at Reasons To Be Cheerful!  Help us make our100 new Owners in 100 days campaign a success!

We are creating a community through our connection to food –  Owners make sure to come out and enjoy the community – see you at one of our FOOD events – ice cream is a food right?!  Enjoy!
-Heather Nickle, Board of Directors
ps – want to help out with one of our upcoming events, send us an email and let us know!

Display it Proudly

In December of 2014 the Assabet Village Food Co-op held our FIRST annual Owner’s meeting; nearly 100 of our (then) 200+ Owners came together for community and conversation.  One of the ideas suggested at this meeting was to have lawn signs created to help market the Food Co-op and have people pay in advance for them.  This idea was shared and enthusiastically supported.  Well now this idea is a reality!

Support Local: communities, farmers, producers, families, economies, food systems – All of this and more!

Displaying a lawn sign at your home, or in your window, is a great way to show your Co-op Pride and help promote the Assabet Village Food Cooperative.  Donate $15 or MORE to the Co-op (through the link) and you will get your OWN double sided sign, with posts, to place in your yard to help spread the word about the Food Co-op.

CoopYardSignFinal

If you wish to have more than one sign, or to get a sign for a friend, we ask that you fill out the form twice (or three times) so that we can track the number of signs ordered.  The company we have contracted with (employee owned and operated!) has a minimum order of 50 signs to ship.

Once we have 50 people signed up and paid up, we will order the awesome lawn signs (and let you know).  It takes about a week for them to be made and delivered to us.  Once they are in our hands, we will get them into your hands by either delivering them or arranging a community pick-up time and location.  Both options will be available (to most Owners).

If you have questions, feel free to contact us assabetvillagecoop@gmail.com.  If you are ready to donate $15 or MORE (more is always good) to the Co-op for your sign, then click HERE and complete the form.  If you would rather mail in a check, you can do that too!  Just write in the memo “Lawn Sign” and include your contact info.

Thanks for helping us build a community through our connection to food!  Enjoy the sign and display it with pride!

Donate $15 or MORE to the Co-op, get a cool lawn sign or mail in a check to:
AVFCO
54 Main St, Suite 205
Maynard, MA 01754
memo: Lawn Sign

Introduction to Foraging for Mushrooms Class – Maynard – Sunday April 12th at 2pm

Join the Food Co-op for our next fundraising class – Introduction to Foraging for Mushrooms. This is a beginner’s class for people interested in safely foraging for mushrooms. We will look at a select number of easily identified mushrooms found in the Maynard area and examine how to safely store, prepare, and cook them. We will consider mushroom hunting from a historical perspective and address safety protocols. Along the way, we will also consider foraging from nutritional, ecological, and medicinal perspectives.

chicken2This will be approximately a 45 min class, with time for questions at the end. Bring a paper and pencil to take notes, and your interest in learning more about foraging.

Our instructor, Doug Sparks, is a freelance writer living in North Andover. He has a Master’s degree in English and American Literature from New York University. He is a skilled forager and wild foods expert. To find out more about Doug, follow him on his Instagram at instagram.com/doug_sparks.

General details:

  • When: Sun April 12th from 2-3pm (approx 45 min class)
  • Location: Maynard, MA (address will be emailed to you with confirmation of class)
  • Cost: $22 donation (not tax deductible) – Tickets are no longer available
  • What to bring: something to take notes with and your curiosity in foraging

MAX 40 people – SOLD OUT!!!!

unnamed trumpets

We hope you will enjoy this class.  It is indicative of the type of programming we hope to offer once we are a physical store.  Help make this store a reality, join us in Co-op Ownership!