did you all see our minutes?
not sure how to use this google groups to its best advantage -- feel free to give advice, folks! I thought I posted the minutes from our meeting -- here they are again:
Souhegan Valley Food Coop meeting, Feb. 16 at 6 pm Wilton Library
Attending: Tim O’Connell, Pauline and Don Boggis, Greg Boggis, Will Melcher, Sandy Lafleur, Serafin Anderson, Mike Griffin, Tom Mitchell, Elad and Lior Sadeh, Donna Crane, Mickey Pieterse, Vincent Mamone, Ted Sartell, Pat Fickett, Sussy Rose Shields, Brittany Atwater, Grayson Labrie, Michael Conley (minutes)
Introductions: Attendees described briefly their interests in SVFC, their background that brought them there. Common themes included: the desire for a more efficient and economically sustainable method for bringing local agriculture to market year-round, to deepen and make more resilient our local Souhegan community, to keep money in our community, to build a useful and appropriate board of trustees, to support local initiatives, to reduce carbon foot prints and create a market where genuinely healthy food is available for purchase at a reasonable rate, to educate the local populace about how their food is grown and the soil is nurtured, to develop positive energy within the local community, to make our towns more attractive, more fun, and more friendly!
Recommended reading from Pauline: Zero Marginal Cost Society by Ripkin.
SVFC is taking our lead from the Neighboring Food Coop Association. They have suggested that we initially concentrate on developing our vision of what the Coop means to us. Here are some thoughts:
• SVFC could be a place where a local farmer can sell a variety of his products quickly and efficiently
• SVFC could be one of the places that could help farmers be economically viable, as there is no one solution to the difficulties of small scale farming in New Hampshire
• SVFC would focus on providing sustainable products from the general region (New England?), not just the local area
• Teaming up with local institutions, as we have already done to a small degree with Wilton Town Hall Theater, and could do more productively with the Wilton Library, Wilton Main Street Association, Wilton Community Center, Wilton Historical Society will enhance all of these organizations as well as our own. Mention was made of the “Farm to Table Dinner” hosted in September by the Wilton Community Center, which raised $1000.
• More articles in the local paper could spur an interest in the the SVFC, as interest seems to have waned a bit in farmers’ markets.
• Distinguishing traits of the SVFC might include a focus on education, where produce will be identified in unique ways, the methods for growing and its contribution to the overall health of the farm as well as the consumer celebrated, the preparation and cooking of the produce will be well described – fermentation nights for example.
• SVFC would provide an emphasis on community culture as well as economical purchasing, so that shopping at the Coop is a real experience – memorable snacks, say, or poetry readings, or other types of engaging activities that would make the shopping event unique.
The Four Cornerstones of the successful Food Coop were reviewed:
Vision (we spent most of the night on this – we’ll be working on a more cogent and inclusive Mission statement and Vision over the next few months, seeking input from members present and yet to come.)
Talent (we noted how much talent we had currently in the room – several farmers who had between them well over 100 years of farming experience; community activists and organizers with extensive experience in organizing community projects like Wilton’s park and connections to many different networks – Souhegan Transition Network, Wilton Community Center, Wilton Main Street Association, SHARE, Milford Community Garden, Wilton Community Garden, various churches, Neighboring Food Coop Association)
Capital. We noted that one important piece of becoming a viable organization would be to become credit worthy and to do that we were going to need to finance a feasibility study for the Coop. Keene/Monadnock Food Coop spent 30K on such a study. We will research that number to see if we can do some of the legwork involved in getting a similar study for less cost.
Systems. We noted that we were a non-hierarchical organization which focuses on helping individuals contribute what they are able, based on the context provided by the group. We have a document that would incorporate us as an organization, but we will need to agree on the nature of the “shares” we issue, prices, etc. which will be hard for us to determine. We will be seeking input from NFCA on this.
To Do List!
1. We will research exactly what is involved in a feasibility study (Michael/Sandy/Will/Tim will reach out to Bonnie H at NFCA to understand this question better)
2. We will seek some help from a local college intern to help us understand better what kinds of experience we might be able to market, what kinds of customers we might have, etc. (Serafin and anybody who might want to assist her)
3. Maintain an email conversation. The group has been invited to participate in a google group where interested participants can post stuff, like draft mission statements.
4. Participate in community visibility exercises. We are hosting the movie “Grow” on March 8 with coffee and refreshments for sale afterward in the discussion period at Roam Café. We have another community day on May 2 at High Mowing where we will have a booth for May Day.
5. We are looking for a robust group of volunteers to attend the Coop Day sponsored by NFCA on March 21 in Putney. Car pooling will be arranged. Sign up on the google group and also on Facebook (Souhegan Valley Food Coop).
6. One particularly promising visibility/fund raiser is to host some farm tours when the weather gets nice – see young animals being nursed, ride a tractor, etc. We also discussed some house tours. These are quite laborious, but they worked well for the Wilton Main Street Association.
7. Next meeting will be determined by Doodle poll – that seems to be the best way to ensure that core group members can make a commitment with their calendars handy.
That’s it! Meeting concluded at 9 pm. Pat Fickett, our host and librarian, asked that she not bear the responsibility for closing up – if we want to use that lovely space again, we want to make sure “closer” roles are designated.