Six years ago a small and passionate group of people came together to discuss the need for a Cooperative grocery store to serve State College and the surrounding communities. The passion stemmed from a desire to support our burgeoning local food economy and to create a business where members and the community could feel positive about their dollars going to support the local area and not line the pockets of large chain corporations. We proved to ourselves that this was something the local community wanted as we quickly added 250 members in a very short amount of time.
As we continued to add members and the Co-Op continued to grow, an idea to kick start our sales process and support local farmers through an Online Farmers Market started to take shape. With the help of a local food grant we launched the OLM 4 years ago, allowing our members and others to easily purchase fresh locally grown or produced food from the convenience of their home or office. Our local vendors found a new avenue to market their products and small subset of our members and local community found a new way to shop.
Continuing to grow our membership to the numbers needed to kick-off our brick and mortar location while running a fledgling business was an enormous undertaking. We’ve been successful on many of our endeavors while others have flagged as resources have been stretched thin. Through it all the one thing that has remained constant is the amazing people in this community that are passionate about local and sustainable food.
With the board at full capacity after a number of years operating at less than full strength, we have an opportunity to look at where the organization is and where we want to go. This coupled with a very rough growing season for our local vendors has led the board to the conclusion that it would be in the best interest of Friends & Farmers to suspend the Online Market and enter into a planning phase for the next 6 months.
During this planning phase we will empower board committees to evaluate the current state of Friends & Farmers and develop the best path forward for the Co-Op to fulfill its mission. We still believe strongly in F&F’s initial vision of a brick and mortar store and the viability of a convenient online shopping marketplace. In this time of strategy building we will need our members, vendors, and customers to help us steer the ship. A Co-Operative relies on its most valuable resource, its people, to be successful.
We thank our vendors, volunteers, customers, and past board members who started and kept the OLM alive for the past four years with tremendous amounts of effort, money, and time. We look forward to the opportunity to learn from our past and blaze a bright new path into the future for our community. A sailboat needs all of its crew to contribute in a myriad of ways for a successful journey. So it is for F&F at this time and we hope our “crew” is up to the task at hand so we may successfully navigate our way home.
What this all means is that December 18th will be our official last Online Market day and we will officially move into the planning phase hiatus at the beginning of January. We envision taking 6 months to finalize a strategy and put the pieces of the puzzle together so that we may be coming into our new form at the time that most of our local farms are hitting their season of abundance. We believe this to be an aggressive and ambitious timeline, but believe we are up to task to reach this target. The Board will continue to be in touch with you every step of the way so that members and the community are fully included in the possible actions of the future of the Online Market and the cooperative.
Once again thank you all for being part of the F&F family and we look forward to our journey at the beginning of 2019 with all of you!Read more
Meet Heidi Aspen Lauckhardt-Rhoades
Friends & Farmers Board Member
Three years ago I took an about face that changed the trajectory of life for me and my family. In June of 2015, my children and I (and cat at the time), boarded our new-to-us 2010 Subaru and turned the nose of our ship northbound, leaving my childhood home of Palm Beach County, Florida behind. Barbara Kingsolver, author of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, wrote about her similar experience leaving the Sunbelt for Virginia in a move destined to improve the quality of life for her family as well as lessen the burden of their carrying capacity on an overpopulated and fragile ecosystem; I couldn’t identify with those pages more.
Our life three years after arriving on a sticky and sun-drenched evening has manifested into the best period of my life. I believe that Central Pennsylvania is the Land of Opportunity for anyone that is passionate or even curious about the Terroir Revolution. It really CAN BE DONE here in our region. We are so fortunate to live in a place with plenty of elbow room and natural resources. This place, terroir, is a vortex for innovation; there is a lot of brainpower here and the collaborative spirit is anthropological; the barn raising spirit is pervasive in both Amish and English communities. People here want to help, want to come into alliance and get along and help each other out. I have never experienced such a kinder way of life. It is natural and easy to work together and build.
I am currently working as the Market Manager for the Pine Grove Mills Farmers Market, the first of its kind in the area. Our market is comprised of mostly first time producers; individuals and families of various ages and stages in their lives are implementing their dreams for themselves; giving enterprise a go and boldly living in alignment with their values of environmental stewardship, animal welfare, self-reliance through cooperation, and serving as models for others.
My background is a patchwork of land management, community outreach, wellness, maritime, freelance and education. After an unforeseen layoff in November, 2017 I decided to dig deep and follow my desire towards agriculture, food production and sustainable economic development. With that intention set into motion, the momentum surge has been remarkable and my life’s degree of satisfaction is testimony to “following one’s bliss”.
As a Friends and Farmers Board member I plan to assist in the human relations aspect of our organization; introducing more of our community to Friends and Farmers through novel means; connecting our customers with our producers, connecting producers with other producers; connecting businesses with our organization and developing educational opportunities (incubation) for people interested in local [food] economy. A healthy community that is sustainable and attractive to growth is built upon relationships, trade and respect. With the far-reaching implications that food economies have on health, environment and wellness, one may well argue that building out long-term sustainable, and socially inclusive methods of production and distributions is a must for community development. I believe being a part of Friends and Farmers is a powerful advocacy tool that will help shape the well being of our region’s future and serve as an example for other national regions as well.
Chris Rand shares a tasty recipe for
Pickled Garlic Scapes
If you’re like me, you like garlic, a lot, and use a lot of it. It’s never too much! Garlic scapes are an underappreciated late spring offering, gaining in popularity, and canning them keeps them around all year, if you’ve got the discipline to pace yourself. We don’t, they are just too good. You can only get them at this time of year for just a few weeks. Good luck!
Pickled Garlic Scapes
Adapted from recipe posted by Yellow Birch Hobby Farm
Recipe type: Canning
Prep time: 40 mins
Cook time: 20 mins
Total time: 1 hour
Serves: about 12 pints
Recipe can be scaled up or down
5 lbs garlic scapes
Several heads of garlic (1-2 cloves per pint jar)
2 T dried dill (1/2 t per pint, or 1 sprig fresh dill per pint)
3 teaspoons crushed red pepper (1/4 tsp per pint)
10 cups apple cider vinegar (can use white vinegar)
10 cups water
1 cup canning salt
Wash your scapes and then cut off the flower stalk at the top- just behind where the white meets the green (to get max yield I use tops and bottoms, discard bulb in middle, use just top halves if you wish)
You can cut them into pieces or just curl them into clean, prepared jars. Pack them in there, being sure to leave 1 inch headspace.
To each pint jar, add: 1-2 cloves garlic, ½ teaspoon dried dill (or 1 sprig fresh dill), and ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper.
On the stovetop, heat water, vinegar, and canning salt to the boiling point, then turn down to a simmer. Carefully ladle the brine into your jars, leaving 1 inch headspace. Secure lids and bands. Process 10 minutes in a boiling water canner.
Allow to sit for 3-4 weeks before eating.
Makes 12 pints, using approx. 5 lbs garlic scapes.
Embellishments: mustard seed, dill heads, cardamom seed/pods (not ground), peppercorns, etc.
Cocoa Coffee Rye Bread
This weeks recipes were developed by Friends & Farmers Board Member
Makes two 2 pound loaves
3 cups of warm coffee, purchased on the Online Market
1 tsp sugar
1 ½ Tbsp yeast
1 ½ Tbsp salt
2 cups of whole rye flour, purchased on the Online Market
5 cups of all purpose flour
¼ cup of cocoa powder
Brew coffee and allow to cool slightly. Once it is cooled to warm temperature (versus boiling hot), mix in the yeast. Place the rest of the ingredients into a large bowl, then mix in coffee yeast mixture. Knead together the dough; it should not be too sticky. Cover and allow to rise in a warm area for about 2 hours.
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Form your dough into desired shape, place flour or cornmeal onto baking sheet and place dough onto the pans. Allow the loaves to sit for about 40 minutes.
Before placing the bread into the oven, place slashes into the loaves to allow the heat to escape. Fill a pan with a cup or two of water and place it into the oven. Bake the loaves for approximately 30 minutes.
Thank you Deb and Stan Latta for your dedication to volunteering for Friends & Farmers!
I sat down with Deb at The Meetinghouse to learn more about her role with the OLM
How did you get involved with Friends & Farmers?
Deb: I was with the State College School District and the CDT ran an article about F & F back when it was first starting and I had no idea we could order online so I pulled up the website that was listed in the article so I began ordering with my husband. I said to him when we retire I think I would like to volunteer for this organization. I love the products, I love the farming community and helping out and I’m a people person. So I decided it would be a nice fit for when we retire.
I started first and kept ordering and later on they needed drivers so Stan joined and we’ve been doing it every Tuesday since.
Why do you love F & F products?
Deb: For me this is what I love the most. I love that I can sit down at my computer and I can look at a lot of different farms and products. I don’t have to drive to Bellefonte for my soap or to Pleasant Gap for my pasta but even sitting in my p.j’s I’m able to put together a really nice order and not have to go to the grocery store. So I like the convenience, a one-stop shop is what I really like.
What are some of your favorite products?
Deb: Belle Naturals! I love the soap, I think I have bought every single bar that she makes. They’re just absolutely wonderful especially in this winter weather.
I love Clover Creek Cheeses they really came in handy over the Holiday season my company really raved about them.
I really like the micro-greens because that’s not something I can find in any kind of a store. We have a couple different suppliers for micro-greens and they’re just wonderful added to salads.
It depends on the season and if I’m doing a lot of entertaining. I’ll buy some things from Tait Farm like their mustards or their jams.
I like all of The Pipers Peck salsas except the ones that are really super hot!
I’ll buy a lot of greens, carrots, and radishes that kind of thing. I love Jade Family Farm because not only do I know the family so I feel this kinship but they are truly one of the suppliers that are totally organic by definition absolutely organic. I love their products and I can really tell the difference when I get their products verses something I’d buy at the grocery store.
Friends and Farmers has then opened the door for me to go to Farmers markets. I go to the Boalsburg Market and the Indoor Market during winter and that is really new for me. So now I’m going every week. It has really opened my eyes to this entire world I never knew existed.
Before I was just going to the grocery store and I couldn’t figure out why I was throwing away so much. The lettuce never lasted, I tried different types of lettuce and my radishes were always getting yucky. I eat a lot of salads. Friends & Farmers produce is so different it’s so fresh and it’s not any more expensive. That was the big fallacy for me the big “ah-ha” when I see what I’m getting and the amount I’m getting verses what I used to buy. I can have this organic lettuce in my fridge for three weeks! You have to treat it kindly but it will last.
Another favorite is Fasta Pasta. My favorite is the Smoked Mozzarella Ravioli. It is the best and you can’t get it anywhere else. I love that it comes frozen and I will tell you Stan and I usually eat the whole pack!
Tell me more about Stan’s role with Friends & Farmers.
Stan has really embraced volunteering much more than I thought. He looks forward to getting all the deliveries and since he knows the State College area so well he divides up all the deliveries that we have. Say there are two drivers he’ll be the one that says, “Okay these seven go here and these six go with this person.” So he enjoys that and then he competes with himself to see how fast he can do all the deliveries. He does them very nicely and he really likes the challenge. He has met so many people that order every week and some people that he has known! They’ll say, “Stan I didn’t know you were delivering with Friends & Farmers.” So he’s reconnected! I think he enjoys making people feel good. “Here’s your delivery, is there anything else I can do?” He likes going over and beyond. He’ll drop it off and if he doesn’t see a cooler he always calls the person and makes sure that everything is taken care of so when he gets home he can feel really good that he has done a good job. He really enjoys from start to finish the whole process.
Deb’s Tips for Keeping Lettuce fresh in your refrigerator: I keep it in the exact bag I buy it in and keep it open and I wash and tear as I use it and it stays really well. I also don’t put it in the bottom of my refrigerator I put it in the middle of the crispers. If it gets too cold it doesn’t keep well.
Honestly, I should call this the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink quiche-guide. Because of the options on the online market, I’ve made several quiches each a unique combination.
I look at building my quiche in three segments: 1) The crust, 2) the vegetables, cheese and meats and 3) the eggs. and I never have an exact recipe and I’m not a professional cook—just an armature who loves the ease of throwing leftovers into a pan with eggs and making a gourmet meal. The following are not exact recipes, but hopefully will give you some inspiration to create your own masterpiece!
Option #1: Low carb or just not a fan? Go crust-less! Who says you need a crust for a good quiche?
Option #2: Personally, I think the crust is the best part! Your second option is a classic all-butter crust. The recipe I use is one I’ve been using since college that was passed on to me from my roommate, who shared an equal passion of pastry crusts (and carbs, in general).
1-1/4 cups of all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
½ cup of chilled butter, cut into 1-tablespoon cubes
3 tablespoons of ice water (or 3 tablespoons of chilled vodka)
Add flour, salt and chilled butter into a food processor and pulse until a meal forms. Gradually add ice water, a teaspoon at a time until it becomes moist and clumpier. Gather dough and roll into a ball. Chill up to overnight for use.
Option #3: Potatoes! First, grease your pie tin so you can easily remove your quiche after baking. Next, thinly slice the potatoes and lay them across the bottom and up the side to form a “crust.” Make one layer, two layers, or three! You are the chef.
Option #4: Mashed potatoes! Oh my, this has to be my favorite option. Recently, my roommate made a plethora of potatoes (thanks, 5lb option on the Online Market!). I used leftovers as a crust by mixing in one egg and approximately ½ cup of panko breadcrumbs until it created a dough-like consistency. Using my hands, I formed the crust in the pie pan.
Vegetables and other delicious additives
Here is where it can really get crazy! Because I hate food waste, my quiches usually end up being the last of the vegetables from the week that are just on their way out… but with the online market, you can come up with a ton of delicious combinations. Here are a few of my favorites.
—Emily’s Greens Pie: Sautee your greens down until they are a little wilted and layer them into the pie pan or crust. Don’t layer them to tightly because you’ll want to make sure that the eggs can still properly soak through. Add something salty (cheese, bacon, sausage…) and Voila! The perfect late summer quiche when you are sick and tired of eating salads.
—Sausage, bacon, beef, lamb, salmon… there is so many options on the online market! Cook your meat thoroughly and layer it into the pie pan or crust. Add any other veggies or cheese, as desired.
—I find that you can’t go wrong by copying “The Waffle Shop” omelets. My boyfriend and I treat ourselves some mornings to a visit to the West College Waffle Shop and always seem to order our two favorite omelets: The Greek (spinach, feta and tomatoes) and the Eastern (no, not the Western, folks—bacon instead of ham!). Recreate your favorite omelet in pie format and you cannot go wrong.
Plain and simple — the better quality the egg, the better quality of quiche. That is why the only option for your eggs is to purchase them from the Online Market.
Options #1: The light and fluffy classic— mix ½ dozen to 1 dozen of eggs (depending on pan size) with milk, salt and pepper. The milk will give it a fluffy texture.
Option #2: Creamy and delicious—mix some soft cheese (think goat cheese or sheep cheese) in with the eggs to make it extra creamy.
Option #3: Herb-city— Add all sorts of herbs to taste. My favorite combination is thyme, sage, pepper and garlic.
Option #4: Pesto!— Add a spoonful of pesto to the eggs (to taste) and mix it thoroughly. Your quiche may look green and something from out of a sci-fi movie, but it will taste out of this world.
Once you have your ingredients prepped and ready for the bake, layer your veggies, cooked meats, cheese, etc. in your pie crust to get an even distribution and pour the egg mixture over the top. bon appetit!
The recipe is very basic, with only five ingredients—three of which can be found on the Online Market!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Stove Top Time: 10 minutes
Oven Time: 10 to 15 minutes
1 lb Whole Hog Sausage, ground (or ground lamb depending on preferences)
1 cup of panko bread crumbs
2 cloves of organic garlic, diced finely
1 Tbsp of Garam Masala Spice
Preheat oven to 350 degree F.
Add all the ingredients to a large bowl and mix with your hands until fully incorporated. Turn your stove top onto low, add 1 Tbsp of oil or butter to a sauce pan. I used a cast iron skillet. Make meatballs the size of a tablespoon or a little larger.
Once all meatballs are shaped, place them on the sauce pan and brown them on all sides, rotating them frequently.
After the meatballs are browned on all sides, place them onto a baking sheet (or keep them on cast iron skillet, if this is the method you used) and bake them in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until fully cooked. Time will depend on size of meatballs and amount of time spent browning outside.
After spending much of my life as a vegetarian, I recently made the switch to include small amounts of meat into my diet. Purchasing meat from the Friends& Farmers Coop online market is the perfect opportunity to incorporate fresh, local and guiltless meat from farmers whom I know and want to support.
Emily Newman has been a member of Friends and Farmers since early 2017 and now serves on the Board of Directors as the Secretary. As a member, she enjoys the opportunity to support local farmers and buy delicious food. She enjoys scrolling through the Online Market dreaming up what she will be making the following week for her friends and family.
What I heard and said at the Annual Membership Meeting in November focused on improved member-board dialogue, and a desire for increased member input regarding the future of Friends and Farmers. Addressing those topics is essential for the success of the co-op. This is the most crucial year to date for F&F, and the relationship between the Board (BOD) and the membership could not be more important.
It is, in my opinion, unproductive to evaluate past board-member interaction, and simply to say that the BOD has guided the co-op to this point, accomplishing much. The demands have changed, and the current BOD is dedicated to moving F&F closer to a grocery store. We strive to perform our duties with the same professionalism and care of the previous BOD.
I make the above observation because in December six new board members took seats at the table, creating a small information vacuum. Much of the time until now has been spent evaluating the current position of the co-op and how it relates to our objectives going forward. The Board is committed to establishing improved communication with members concerned about finances, the future of the Online Market, and the overall goal of this board and the organization. Members want a venue for their opinions and ideas to be heard and we are attempting to streamline a process for that interaction. This letter is a first step.
I am writing as a member, and am expressing my opinions on the current state of the coop and its projected future. These opinions have been voiced at BOD and Executive Committee meetings, and there has been spirited, far ranging discussion on the state of F&F. Board members understand that member input is critical, and, as large decisions are looming, the need is immediate.
It is my opinion that the Online Market should continue operation, but that:
- Product type and selection should expand, including dry goods, and the co-op should be looking more broadly for vendors who can help us achieve reduced costs.
- The co-op must rethink its cost structure and work with vendors who are willing and able to help facilitate a strategy of larger scale purchasing. This should include vendor deliveries, and could incorporate contract buying for select items. Vendor contact should be made in January in anticipation of spring purchases.
- The co-op must pursue a marketing strategy for increased membership from the ‘undecided’ demographic. Even the ‘unaware’ sector. Use of PSU marketing classes or part-time marketing help is necessary.
- F&F must ascertain the reasons many members do not shop and why non-members who do, don’t join.
- We must recognize and partner with employers and student groups who will function as conduits to prospective members.
- The organization must precisely define paid employee roles and expectations so they mirror current co-op needs; and closely monitor progress.
- We formalized lease agreements for the coming year, with expansion in mind. (This has begun)
- Business plan and financing discussions with SPECU should begin. The bank’s input is important.
The Online Market is a means to an end. The co-op’s ultimate goal has never changed or wavered; but if we cannot operate the market successfully, we have little chance to recover and/or operate a store, which is exponentially more difficult and complex. We have until September, when the USDA grant expires to show marked improvement. The Online Market certainly needs large increases in revenue, and ways to reduce cost must be found. Indeed, improvement must be evident earlier, and changes to the current model must be conceived, communicated, approved, and acted upon. Now. Which brings us to the hard decisions, and why we need to hear from our members. Do we continue to spend equity? How much is acceptable? Do we expend more energy on the Online Market? Or shift gears?
I will not speak for the entire board, but I assure the membership these issues are being discussed. The Executive Committee, which met on December 22nd, supports many of these concepts.
What the co-op needs from its membership is manpower. Volunteers for committee work, for outreach events in which F&F may be involved, for work shifts, to transcribe minutes and reports for dissemination, and more. To be effective any BOD must focus on the future, but the F&F reality is that the Board spends large blocs of time running the present. The co-op needs volunteers, and the BOD wants member voices to speak. We are hoping to streamline and speed the mechanisms of contact and communication, but please, give us a little more time.
I am certain of the following: if the F&F organization calls for volunteers and cannot entice enough participation, what does that say about our co-op? I think I know.
I can be reached at email@example.com. However you decide to contact the Board or other members, use your voice. The F&F future depends on it.