Food Coop Meeting minutes July 15
Attending: Donna Crane (host), Meg O’Leary, Sandy Lafleur, Greg Boggis, Nicole Colvin-Griffin, Michael Conley (minutes)
We’ve all been enthused about the possibility of a Food Coop in our neck of the woods. Here is the latest!
We wanted to send a letter to the Cabinet that might serve to relieve any confusion over our status. Here’s a draft — please feel free to make suggestions!
Thanks to the Cabinet for providing coverage of our Food Coop project. The Souhegan Transition Network is seeking to create a Food Coop that would work with farmers and artisans to create an easily accessible market with regular hours that would feature food from local farms. We feel this would be a boon to the farmers, as they could get their products out to market without going through the inefficient exercise of farmers’ markets (though we do love and appreciate all the work that goes into them!). A Food Coop would be a relatively easy way to pay farmers what their food is worth and enable consumers to access it easily and reliably. Did you know that New Hampshire produces only 5% of the food we consume? We’re very vulnerable to sudden increases in fuel prices for instance, which could dramatically increase the cost of the food we purchase. Building local capacity for growing food is a great way to help provide us with greater food security, as well as a way to cut down on our carbon footprint. We would like to locate the market in a site that would be convenient with space for parking, preferably in Wilton or Milford and are actively seeking community members who would like to shape the future of this coop. If you are interested in collaborating with us, please send an email to Souheganfoodcoop@gmail.com. We’d love to hear from you! We are not quite ready to accept “members” yet and if you did send in a donation to get us started and have not had it returned, please let us know. If you’d like to know more about the Coop but aren’t sure you want to go to meetings (perfectly understandable, though our meetings are always fun!), please check our website and you will find the minutes of previous meetings and links to related topics: souhegan-transition.org.
Thanks once again to the Cabinet for covering our project.
Michael Conley, for the Souhegan Transition Network
Other topics covered at our meeting included some “field trips” — Sandy told us about Intervale in Burlington VT and the way they have partnered with local employers to help employees access their Coop (the dues are $200!). They currently do over $30 million in business annually.
Greg and Donna also investigated the Monadnock and Onion Food Coops, respectively, and were enthusiastic about the growth each has experienced. We might be able to get some free advice from the Onion Coop, which sounds attractive.
Our current needs are to improve our communication –hence this email blast, letter to the editor, gmail address and, look for it soon, Facebook page!
Another need is to better understand the business reality of our retail expectations. We have briefly spoken with the owner of the Harwood’s building, who mentioned rent of about $1/square foot. For a location such as the old Harwoods, that would give us initial costs of $1200/month in rent, not counting heat, electricity, and staffing.If we want to proceed with the idea that we would split the revenue by giving producers, say, 75% of the revenue and keep 25% for operating costs, we figure we’d probably need to gross at least $10,000/month to afford the old Harwood’s. Do we have the capacity to generate that much volume, to sell $2500/wk, every week? We’d need lots of food, with seasonal variety, and other items eg. non-perishable goods such as toothpaste, crafters’ supplies (beermaking, anyone?) to be available throughout the year. We’d like to have a rudimentary business plan that we could present to prospective members within the next two months.
We’re also excited about possibilities such as a food incubator, where we could help get local producers to create some fancy items; also the possibility of grants. If anybody could help us access some RFP’s regarding local food production, that would be most helpful!
We certainly need help! Our next meeting will be at the Conleys, 102 Elm St. Milford at 7 pm on Aug 11. Please come if you can, and if you are so moved, a snack or a beverage or a dessert. Showing up for the meetings adds tremendously to the energy and purposefulness of the work — we’d all love to see you!