It’s been a while since I’ve posted an update to the blog- I’m still trying to find a regular rhythm but it’s been too long! Consequently there is a lot to share with you!

Ella Rae at the March Against Monsanto. Photo by Patrick Kerber
Ella Rae at the March Against Monsanto. Photo by Patrick Kerber

Most recently the Kitsap Community Food Co-op had a strong presence at the March Against Monsanto on May 25th. Member-owners and supporters showed up in t-shirts and with signs, with their children and in costumes to demonstrate against the bioengineering giant. It was a great day for the co-op to also get the word out about we’re doing in an acutely relevant way. Our community wants access to safe food, and we also want our food properly labeled so that we can make decisions for our families. The community deciding its food system is an integral demonstration of the food co-op itself- that each food co-op represents the community in which it resides, rather than a corporate structure or ‘stamp’. Many thanks to our volunteers who showed up at the march and passed out many, many brochures and answered tons of questions, and of course to our wonderful speaker Jeff Allen, who motivated the marchers with an energetic speech!

Jeff Allen from the Board of Directors energizes the crowd. Photo by Patrick Kerber
Jeff Allen from the Board of Directors energizes the crowd. Photo by Patrick Kerber

 

The rate at which new member-owners has joined has tripled from last year! At current count we have 472 new member-owners, that is over 100 new owners since January 2013. In all of 2012, we had 84 new owners join. We are so delighted by the growth and that all of you are sharing the co-op dream with your friends, family and neighbors. We have a long way to go to get to 1000 by the end of the year and we’re driving hard to do it. We still need you to do your part. It’s critical that member-owners step up to tell your story of why the co-op is important to you, and to our community. The community hears from the Board a lot – what they really need is to hear from you!

* Organize a talk with a small group of friends, invite one of the board members (we’ll come!)

* Write a guest blog post and we’ll post it here!

* Invite us to keynote at your event

* Put together a dinner event with friends to help fundraise for the co-op (like our Harvest Dinner, for example)

* Attend our events, participate in our fundraiser, donate!

* Write articles to the local papers about the importance of access to safe food, mention the co-op!

* What are your ideas?

These are off the top of my head at 7:30 in the morning, I’m sure you can come up with far more creative ideas! Board member Kevin Koski stands on street corners with a big sign he made, encouraging people to join the co-op. He has a ‘sign brigade’ if you’re interested in demonstrating in this way!

There’s no way to stress the importance of having YOUR help- yes, you, sitting there right now. It won’t get done without you, please don’t underestimate your importance to this effort! Contact Jess Sappington about volunteering.

We have some awesome events coming up this summer! Details are still being narrowed down but you can look forward to the Farm Back to the Fair at the Kitsap County Fair. We’ll be hosting a Farmer’s Market outside the gates of the Kitsap County Fair that entire 5 days! The Kitsap Community Food Co-op booth will host coolers allowing you to purchase your farm fresh food, store it at the co-op booth for free, and pick it up on your way back to your car. You can also find out what local producers are up to by visiting their booths.

The Petersen Farm Fall Fair will be returning in the fall. This year we will be partnering with the Kitsap County Agricultural Alliance (KCAA), whose mission is to build a local food network and connect the community with local agriculture. We are greatly looking forward to this partnership and helping to get the word out about both organizations. We’ll be putting information out on both of these events on our website and our Facebook page.

Kristina and Jean are attending CCMA, the national conference for food co-operatives. We received a scholarship for Jean to go to the conference and had budgeted to send two people, so off we go! This vital conference is an important part of our board education- we learn about recent trends in lending, store design, governance. We learn about issues related to food politics and managing staff, hiring a general manager and executing a member-loan campaign. We are looking forward to gathering information and bringing it back to the board and community to help keep the momentum going on our co-op development.

What about site? The site review committee is set to meet to discuss their findings and will be presenting to the board at one of the upcoming board meetings, most likely in late June. The board is excited to hear a detailed update on the sites that we’ve reviewed so far and each of their potential to make a great store. The next step is for the board to take that information and thoroughly look at the best possible sites, ideally one or two. We then have to research each site from a financial perspective, feasibility, and start negotiations on lease, upgrades, etc. There’s still so much work to do, and we’re getting ever closer. The most important thing now is to bring in member equity in the form of memberships and member-loans (down the road) so that we have the capital we need to say YES to a site when the time comes.

Come to a board meeting. The board loves having our fellow member-owners come and see what we’re working on and discussing. It’s a great way for you to get an intimate view into what we do during all of those board meetings. I’m quite partial to our organized, efficient, busy board meetings where everyone’s voice is important and where we look at every angle before we dive into decisions – it’s a great environment that breeds inspiration and motivation! I hope you’ll come see what we’re doing. Email Jess to RSVP for a board meeting, and consider coming to dinner with me at Sabaidee before the meeting!

So much is happening!

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