Cooperatives are Everywhere – Take Ownership!

This video was created by the Cooperative Network, a group committed to building Wisconsin’s and Minnesota’s cooperative businesses. They provide government relations, education, marketing, and technical services to a wide variety of over 400 member-cooperatives in their area.

Watch and think – do I want to be a part of a business that supports my community?  Do I want my voice to be heard?  If you answer yes, and you think these things are important, then please check out more about the food cooperative we are trying to start in the town of Maynard, that will serve the Metrowest area and Assabet Valley region of MA.

We are meeting the needs of the town of Maynard – that does not currently have a grocery store.  And we are meeting the needs of our area by providing a store-front grocery store that provides access to fresh, locally sourced, healthy food 365 days of the year (366 days on leap years). We are meeting the needs of our community by supporting our local food systems and making our area more resilient.  We are meeting the needs of our community by providing classes of interest.  We are meeting the needs of our community by providing healthy food access for all.  We are supporting the economy of the towns in our area by providing a source of revenue, jobs, education and more.  The list goes on, but we encourage you to check us out and to become an Owner in our cooperative.  To quote the video: “Take it from Jane, take Ownership – Join a Co-op (or two)!”

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Two Classes – Seasonal Soups and Kimchee – Read All About It!

Good food is one thing we are about!

AVFCO Flyer General 2015-0430 (1)We are pleased to be able to offer TWO fundraising classes to our community in September.  Please check them out and register if they seem interesting to you.  You can also help us out by sharing this information via email, social media, and word-of-mouth with those you know.  Both of these classes are open to all, and we are now offering discounts to our classes for our Owners – just another benefit of Ownership in the Assabet Village Food Cooperative!  Want to learn something new and delicious?!  Then you will want to take one (or both) of our upcoming classes!

Classes:

Wednesday 9/16/15 Seasonal Eating: Fall soups will be held at Wolbach Farm (18 Wolbach Rd) in Sudbury.  This class is held in collaboration with Sudbury Valley Trustees (SVT), and will take place from 6:30pm-8:00 pm.  You can purchase tickets from SVT here.  Cost for SVT Members and Co-Op Owners is $10 and Non-Members/Non-Owners is $25. There is a limit of 15 people for this class.

Sunday 9/20/15 Korean Kimchee – History, Culture, and Benefits will be held in Maynard starting at 2pm.  This 70 min class will cover the history of kimchee, introduce participants how to prepare, and provide 3-4 samples (with rice) for people to taste during the class.  Cost is $30 for Co-op Owners and #35 for non-Owners.  There is a limit of 30 spaces for this event.  To get tickets, donate through this link and in the confirmation email we will send you the address for the class.

We hope you will enjoy these classes, and thank you in advance to supporting the Co-op with your donation.  If you want to donate directly to the Co-op, check out our other events, or become an Owner – please take some time to explore the rest of our website.  We are building a community through our connection to food and together we will create a food co-op that will source locally grown food and offer events like these on site.

Enjoy!

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Thank You Neighbor!

20150809-IMG_4199We had an AMAZING potluck and picnic on Saturday (8/8/15)!  About 50 people gathered to celebrate community and talk all things food and all things co-op!   Fun was had by all making things with glitter and crayon, eating food, playing music, and chatting with our neighbors.  There was a great selection of food and drinks that we all enjoyed.  Thanks to all who attended!20150809-IMG_4189

This was a successful event for us financially as well. We had some donations toward our Support Local lawn signs – look for them in a neighborhood near you (or click the link to get your own), and we raised nearly $300 through the silent auction.  A couple of people donated money toward our Event Sponsor program (yay!), and others put money in our “stamp fairy” box.  All of the money raised goes toward covering our operational  and marketing expenses.  Thank you to all who donated as your contribution helps to support this initiative and allows us to attend events to inform more people about what we are creating.

11825547_620029708139757_1977058249894505212_n-2We also had some great door prizes that were given away throughout the day. About a half dozen people received beautiful baskets of food from local farms as door prizes, and ONE lucky person went away with an AMAZING tote bag filled with items from various Maynard small businesses. TWO new Owners joined us at the event too!  These new Owners had been brought to the event by some of our current Owners which is a great way to help inform people about the Co-op, bring them with you to a Co-op event!  [Note: If every one of our 400+ Owners got just ONE more person they know to become an Owner, we’d be at 800+ Owners in no time!]  All in all, pretty great stuff.

And for some more thanks:

For helping to plan the event, thanks go to: Heather Sullivan, Tom Green, Rob Olney, Heather Nickle and Nancy Teasdale

For taking pictures at our event, thanks go to: Christie White and Jason Sobel

Thank you to NARA park for having a location available (that yes, we did rent) and letting us set up all our wonderful activities and food!

Thank you to one of our WONDERFUL Owners for donating to cover the cost of the rental at NARA park!

Thank you to our producer friends for the lovely, lovely things you have grown:

Applefield Farm          Crooked Row Fields

First Root Farm          Rob’s Gardens (Perennials)

Thank you to the businesses and community groups in Maynard that donated an item to our event:

Summer Street Fine Consign           Terry’s Barbershop           The Flower Pot

Scrub A Dog Self Serve & Full Serve Dog Wash

Jam Time          6 Bridges Gallery           LOOK Optical, Inc.

Gallery Seven          Explore Pathways To Wellness 

Art Signals Studio           Fine Arts Theatre Place          Acme Theater

Maynard Family Association          Berkshire Hathaway N.E. Prime Properties in Maynard.

Be sure to check out the farms, community groups and businesses on line or in person.  Support local it is what strengthens a community!

20150809-IMG_4211Thank you to everyone who helped set-up, clean-up, spread the word, attended, or helped out in any way!  Make sure you check out one of our upcoming events, and email us if you want to volunteer you time out front or behind the scenes.

The Board would like to THANK everyone who made this event happen – from those who helped organize it, to those who came, to those who donated towards the event.  THANK YOU!  We are truly overwhelmed by the support!

Be sure to join us at our 2nd Annual Owners’ Meeting on Oct 17th (9am-11am).  We will be sharing information about our market study, reporting on the Co-op’s finances, talking as a community, and voting in our Board of Directors.

Thank you neighbor!

Hi Neighbor! Food Co-op Potluck and Picnic – Aug 8th

COOPpotluckPicnicOne week from today is the Hi Neighbor Potluck and Picnic at NARA park in Acton (8/8/15). Join us from 2:30-5:30pm at the Bath House Pavilion (to the left of the snack bar, at the entrance).  NARA park is located at 25 Ledge Rock Way in Acton – about 1/2 mile north of the route 2A and route 27 intersection.  We have lots of fun things planned.

Bring a meal to eat yourself or share with others – either way is fine (especially if you have dietary concerns) – the important thing is to come and have fun! We are using a website called Perfect Potluck to help keep track of who is bringing what for the potluck and to make it easier for you to decide what to bring.  There are food and supply options, so check it out!  Or just surprise us!

We have a lot of exciting things planned for this event – which is open to ALL  – Owners and non-Owners alike. Here is a sampling of the days activities:

  • 2:30-5:30pm Potluck and Picnic – eat and enjoy the community, check out the silent auction and door prizes, socialize, do crafts
  • 3:00 First door prize drawing
  • 4:00-4:30pm Presentation from members of the Board on current status of the Co-op and information about the market study, some special guest speakers
  • 5:00pm – annouce silent auction winners, closing remarks
  • 5:30pm – general good byes and clean up!

Door prizes will be drawn about every half hour beginning at 3pm, and we have about a half dozen prize options including local producer baskets and a Maynard Business Bag!  You must be present to win the door prize.

We will also have some information set up for your perusal concerning the market study, a dream board, and information on community organizations.  There will be a craft table for the kids, and there is also a playground on site, nearby. (NOTE – NARA park has a swimming area, but you MUST pay to enter this area.)

No dogs allowed at this event.  No alcohol allowed at the park.

We are thankful to the following businesses, community organizations, and farms for their generous donations to this event toward our door prizes and silent auction. Please be sure to check them out online and visit them in person:

Farms/Producers

First Root Farm in Concord          Applefield Farm in Stow

Crooked Row Fields in Concord          Rob’s Gardens (Perennials) in Littleton

Businesses in Maynard

Summer Street Fine Consign          Terry’s Barbershop          Scrub-A-Dog

Jam Time          6 Bridges Gallery          LOOK Optical          The Flower Pot

Berkshire Hathaway N.E. Prime Properties in Maynard

Gallery Seven Frame Shop & Fine Art Gallery         

Explore Pathways to Wellness          Art Signals Studio          Fine Arts Theatre Place

Community Organizations

Maynard Family Association          Acme Theater Productions

Thank you to Middlesex Savings Bank for helping to sponsor this event!

Come for the food, to learn about the market study, bid on something in the silent auction or hang out.  Sat August 8th, 2:30-5:30pm at NARA park.  See you there Neighbor!

Cherry Peach Pie

Screen Shot 2015-07-29 at 9.42.54 AMYou will wow the crowd with this pie, almost overflowing with fruit. Stone fruit is ripe and ready for baking. Pie making requires an investment of several hours. But oh, how great the rewards will be when you see the finished product and taste the first mouthful.  Too hot to bake? No problem, see below the recipe for a no-bake version. Intimidated by pie crust? No problem, keep reading!

Even as an accomplished home baker I imagined it would take me years to master pie crust. As it turned out it really wasn’t all that difficult. Even if you feel timid, I urge you to try it. On the other hand, there is no downside to saving the time and/or anxiety by using a store-bought crust. Note that it may not be as deep as your own pie plate and you may have some filling left over (aw, shucks!). With a little confidence, you can elevate this pie from “wow” to elegant by creating a lattice with a second crust. It will look pretty even if not all the strips look “perfect.” Here I opted to use a cinnamon streusel topping (with canola margarine) rather than a top crust as a way to cut back on the butter.

CRUST (makes 2 crusts)
2 C unbleached white flour
1 t. sea salt
12 T unsalted butter, chilled
3-5 T ice water

The keys to good crust are a) cold butter and water, b) just enough liquid for you to gather the dough into a ball, and c) mixing as little as possible (not to develop the gluten.) In short, less is more in both ingredients and handling.

By hand: In a mixing bowl combine flour and salt. Cut in the butter until all the flour is incorporated and you have pea size lumps. Sprinkle on 3T water. Blend lightly with a fork. Add more water, 1t. at a time, until you can gather the dough into a ball.

In the food processor: Put flour, salt and butter in the processor bowl. Pulse about 5 times and check the size of the lumps. Do not over mix. Add 3T water and pulse a few times. Add more water, 1t. at a time, until you can gather the dough into a ball by hand. Do not mix until the processor forms a ball or the dough will be over-mixed and tough!

(If your lumps are smaller than peas don’t fret. Smaller crumb yields a tender crust; larger lumps make it flaky.)

Wrap the dough well and chill 30-60 minutes. Remove dough from refrigerator and divide it in half. Flatten one piece to about 3-4” in diameter. Working from the center out to the edges, roll the crust to a diameter about 2” larger than the pie pan. Rotate and roll the dough, keeping it as round as possible, to a thickness of 1/8” or less. Gently fold the crust in quarters, place it in the pie dish and unfold. Press lightly into the dish to remove any air gaps. Trim the edge, leaving enough to crimp.

Roll out the second crust. For the lattice top, cut the dough into strips 1/2-3/4” wide. If you are not using the second crust, it Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 3.30.29 PM
will keep in the refrigerator for a week; remove from the fridge 60 minutes before using.

FILLING
6 medium peaches, peeled and sliced
2 T raw sugar
2 T arrowroot OR 2 t. agar powder
2 C pitted cherries

Combine all filling ingredients and let stand 10 minutes before pouring into the crust.

STREUSEL TOPPING
¾ C whole wheat flour
¼ C butter or margarine
¼ C raw sugar
¼ t. cinnamon (optional)

Combine flour, sugar and spice.  Cut in butter to make fine crumbs.  This is accomplished quickly in a food processor.

ASSEMBLE & BAKE
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Pour the filling into the unbaked crust. Move the fruit around with a spoon to pack it tightly together.
Cover with the second crust or woven lattice and crimp the crusts together with your fingers or the tines of a fork. For a full top crust prick it all over with a fork, or cut out a few small shapes, to allow steam to escape. Or, if not using a top crust, sprinkle on the streusel and crimp the edge of the crust.
Bake 10 minutes at 450deg.
Lower heat to 350deg. and bake another 40-50 minutes, until the crust turns golden brown. The fruit will remain firm.

NO-BAKE, NO-CRUST METHOD
If you don’t have the time to create a pie, or the weather is 85deg and muggy, you can still enjoy this cherry peach delight. Skip the crust and the heat of the oven by cooking the whole dessert on the stove in under an hour. This method works perfectly for serving at a picnic or taking to the beach. Also, you can easily adapt this version for one person—simply cut the fruit and streusel recipes in half to yield about four servings.

Filling: Place all ingredients together in a deep skillet or 8 qt. pot. Using a wide pan requires less stirring which keeps the fruit intact. Cover, bring to a simmer and lower the heat to medium. Continue cooking 15 minutes, stirring once or twice. Remove from the heat and pour into a serving bowl. The juice will thicken as it cools.

Streusel: Increase the quantity of flour to 1C. Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. (Margarine works just as well in this version.) Stir in the flour and coat it completely. Reduce heat to low, cook 5-8 mins. while stirring, until the flour just begins to brown. Scrape into a bowl and mix in the sugar and spice. Let cool before serving.

Assembly: Keep the filling and streusel separate until ready to serve. To serve picnic style, spoon the fruit into cups (reusable or paper!) and sprinkle on the streusel.

– Recipe by Nancy Teasdale (Owner #294)

Tips on Healthy Eating Habits

AVFCO Flyer General 2015-0430 (1)Part of our vision at the Assabet Village Food Cooperative is to sell healthy and nourishing food at an affordable price, and in doing so promote healthful living.  We encourage people to become educated about where their food comes from, what healthy eating looks like, and to connect with their food.  Below is a blog from one of our Owners on how he has found inspiration and made changes to live a more healthy lifestyle. Enjoy!

 

Inspired by The Power of Habit by Charles DuHigg, I set about creating habits that would promote a healthier lifestyle while reducing the unhealthy.  I did so for the health benefits, but for many it is about weight loss.  According to the June 15th, 2015 NY Times “To Lose Weight, Eating Less Is Far More Important Than Exercising More”.  Keep that in mind as you design your new habits.  Here are some tips:

If you are an extrovert:Healthy-kid-food1

  1. Join a class or study group
  2. Join a food co-op
  3. Find a work-out buddy
  4. Join a lunch group that shares your new healthy habits

If you are an introvert:

  1. Look forward to your daily run as a way to think through an important project
  2. During your lunch break , watch some health-conscious YouTube videos
  3. Write a food or exercise blog (send it to us!)
  4. Avoid munching during commercials on TV

If you are motivated by others/external factors:

  1. Declare your health goals publicly and frequently
  2. Post your progress in the office for all to remark on
  3. Join an exercise class and try to keep up with the regulars
  4. Dress in gym clothes; odds are you’ll end up there by the end of the day

If you are motivated by goals/internal factors:

  1. Set an ultimate goal with interim goals to make sure you are on track
  2. Get a fitness tracker that frequently enforces your progress
  3. Replace your old good day or bad day rewards with healthier foods or exercise “treats”
  4. Have a “dream list” that you use to reward yourself for maintaining your goals

Lastly, keep reminding yourself what I have learned – progress, not perfection!  Your brain needs positive reinforcement, so design your health plan with this in mind.  Set easy goals first and then improve.  Set monthly goals, adding weekly goals as you go.  Design your journey so you can win!

-By Rob Olney (Owner #326)

Hi Neighbor–wish you were here!  A postcard from Wisconsin.

IMG_2043Since becoming an Owner in the Assabet Village Food Co-op, my travel prep has included referring to the Co-op Directory to see if any food co-ops are near my destination.  Not surprisingly then, on a recent trip to my hometown in Central Wisconsin I made a stop at the Stevens Point Area (SPA) Cooperative, a great little food co-op that has had a successful storefront since 1976.


The SPA Co-op is located just a short walk from the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point and, with over 1,600 owners, is a fixture in the university community.  Focused on providing locally-produced and minimally processed foods, the market carries a nice selection of produce, dairy, bulk foods and grocery items.  The market’s Wellness and Body Care section boasts a large array of supplements as well as cruelty-free and biodegradable body care products.  The SPA Co-op is also the location of Earthcrust Bakery, an independent, owner-run bakery that turns IMG_2020out delicious breads, cookies, muffins and pastries daily in their solar-powered kitchen.


The Co-op’s employees couldn’t have been more helpful and friendly.  I chatted with a cashier about the Co-op’s history and why she’s loved working there throughout her years as a student at UW-SP.  She said that the sense of community and time spent with the great people that shop at the Co-op make it much more rewarding than the standard student job.  I also loved to see the bulletin boards that greeted customers as they entered the store.  They were full of helpful information about local CSA opportunities, posters for farmers markets, hand-outs for a summer camp that teaches kids about the importance of family farming, cooperative business, social justice and active citizenship, and flyers for an event at the neighborhood’s cooperative art gallery.

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I had a great visit, came away with a new SPA Co-op t-shirt and some healthy snacks, and a renewed enthusiasm for our mission in building the Assabet Village Food Co-op.  As owners and supporters, you know that we’re building much more than a grocery store.  We’re forming a community of people with unique talents and contributions.  We’re forming a community space where we can gather to shop, meet, learn and teach.  We’re forming a business that will strengthen our local economy as we partner with local producers, create fulfilling jobs and retain the profits within our community.  Let’s join together to make this a reality!

-by Nichole Felix, Board of Directors

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Summer 2015 Newsletter is Here!

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Hi Neighbor – Co-op Ownership is Growing!

Our Market Study is completed…all lights are green!   

Since our articles were written and added to the newsletter, our Ownership numbers have grown (yay)! Read all about this growth and our market study in our Summer 2015 Newsletter…

Also inside:
Latest status of owners – over 400! 
Outreach committee seeks volunteers
Board elections information
Events recap
Upcoming events

Farmers’ Point of View

Eric's PosterPart of the vision of the Assabet Village Food Cooperative is to empower our members to support the local economy and our local food producers. We hope to educate the public about the producers in our area and connect our Owners (some of whom are farmers) to where our food comes from and the people who grow it for us.

Bolton resident Jan Johnson, who is the former owner and operator of Gypsy Meadows Farm in Plainville, NH, along with two local business owners, Ben Schlosser of Earnest Farms in Bolton and Elena Colman of Crooked Row Fields in Concord, discussed the value of a food cooperative from a business owner’s point of view.

Could you tell us a little bit about your business?

Jan Johnson: I operated Gypsy Meadows Farm in Plainville, NH for six years. We grew organic vegetables for The Food Co-op Stores in Hanover and Lebanon, NH, among other places. Some of our produce included zucchini, green beans, cucumbers, parsley, and kale.

Ben Schlosser: Earnest Farms is located in Bolton, MA and we have been there growing food sustainably since 2012. From June to October, we offer fresh salad and cooking greens as well as cherry tomatoes. Year round, we offer grass fed lamb, goat meat, pork, and chicken. These latter two animals are raised exclusively on soy-free, sprouted grain and housed exclusively in pasture (green grass). This system also produces eggs for us year round.

“Rainbow Veggies” from Crooked Row Fields

Elena Colman: My partner Karl and I began our vegetable farm business, Crooked Row Fields, in January 2013. We lease fields from Brigham Farm in Concord, where we had been working since 2005 and 2006, respectively. We grow and sell fresh vegetables beginning in mid-spring and ending in late-fall. We specialize in growing diverse greens and vegetable varieties that you won’t find at a large grocery store.

What are the most rewarding aspects of your work?

Schlosser: We have entered into the lifestyle of farming out of a commitment to clean, equitably produced food.  For us, it is providing this service that stimulates the most overwhelming joy.  Having a customer cold call me and relate a story about their children’s allergic reactions and restrictive dietary requirements is profoundly motivating to push the dream forward towards a future where everyone can access healthy foodstuffs without question.

Colman: We really enjoy growing exciting varieties that inspire customers to try more vegetables and cook more!

From the standpoint of a local business owner, what is appealing about working with a Food Co-op? 

Johnson: From an individual business perspective, since all of your expenses are upfront in farming, you can have tremendous losses. Because of the co-op that we worked with, we weren’t being forced to sell crops at a loss and it gave us more predictable revenue streams.

To give you an idea of how this worked, each year the vegetable farmers would have a January meeting with co-op’s produce manager and we would look at a list of what they purchased, from whom, and how much they paid us for our vegetables over the previous year.

Then a price would be established for the upcoming year’s crop. The co-op might say, “This is what we paid you last year for green beans. Would you like to grow them again this year for this amount per pound?” As farmers, we would then have a ballpark figure in January about how much to grow and how much seed to buy.

From the community perspective, the co-op kept a lot of the economy local. It hired its own employees and was a customer for the local businesses. We hired our own employees to farm the land. The region really branched out into a vibrant, healthy community.

One of our farmers announced one day that she had bought a used car from someone in town. She mentioned how the flow of money passed through four local hands: the co-op paid us for our produce, we paid her for her work, and she paid the person who sold the car. She triumphantly pointed out that if the seller of the car now shops at the co-op, the loop would be closed!

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Doelings at Earnest Farms.

Schlosser: Working with a local co-op is extremely attractive for us because it is a context into which consumers are already looking for foods that promote maximal health for people, planet, and local businesses, which is the nexus of sustainablility. A co-op also gives us the context to have some of the conversations about our products with a consumer who is expressly interested in supporting the three P’s of sustainability (people, planet, profit) without requiring the farmer’s presence for each connection.

Another very attractive part about a co-op is that it gives us the flexibility to be able to sell fresh meats as they are slaughtered since it can promote them weeks in advance and encourage consumers to reserve their product. This can eventually evolve into increased security for a small farm as consumers look forward a whole season or year and request meat volumes that allow the farm to scale its production to meet demand.

Colman: As a relatively new farmer in the area, it would be an incredible opportunity to sell produce to a food co-op that is less than 5 miles away! Food co-ops are generally small enough that they can work closely with small-scale farms like Crooked Row Fields, yet big enough to ensure a healthy market for larger, more regular deliveries than a local restaurant, or the weekly farmers’ market. Food co-ops open 5 to 7 days a week and are a great way to constantly provide the freshest vegetables possible to customers who aren’t able or can’t conveniently come to the farm itself. Also, co-ops are able to buy directly from the farmer instead of a distributor, ensuring a better price for the farmer, and allowing the farmer to make a livable wage. Local businesses supporting each other, making it easier for customers to buy fresh local products, short delivery distances: that’s what it’s all about!

-Interviews conducted by Joe Cioni (Owner #12)

Here are the addresses of the two farms from the article if you’d like to visit them, or you can visit our Local Producers page to find out more about them:
Crooked Row Fields is located at 82 Fitchburg Tpke, Concord, Massachusetts 01742
Earnest Farms is located at 401 Main St, Bolton, MA 01740