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

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