I believe that climate change and the sustainability of our species is the challenge of our time. Food is something we all need and today's agribusiness model has proven that it is not a sustainable model. I believe local coops like Friends and Farmers are going to be the answer to a brave new future. We should be setting an example to the rest of the world here in our community.
I have many years of experience working with people in a variety of avenues. In particular my background in facilitation, strategic planning, and my current position as an associate director at the Sustainability Institute at Penn State would be great assets to the Coop.
I think the biggest challenges facing F&F is to convince the public of the ongoing issues with food and sustainability and help them change to a new model of doing and thinking. This includes both the consumer and the farmers. It will be a tough uphill battle on both ends as we try to live in an economic system that is designed to work against this approach.
I believe that good people together that are empowered to make decisions for themselves can be a very powerful thing. I like that people feel they have a say in what goes on and that makes all the difference.
I have served on the PA Recreation and Parks board as a community member. I did not chair or sit on any committees at that time.
Chris Rand is a business consultant with 20 years of experience in the property management, entertainment, and technology industries. After growing up in Connecticut with parents who taught gardening and how to tend the land, he spent 13 years in California and moved back east to State College in 2002.
Chris's family have laying hens and enjoy vegetable gardening. Chris is an avid canner and bartering partner, and loves to discover new foods & share food experiences with others. The Rand family became founding members due to their desire to eat great, healthy food while supporting the local food movement and economy.
In bringing his budgeting, fundraising, and business management expertise to the board, Chris hopes to help propel Friends and Farmers towards its membership goals and signing of a lease for a store in the State College Area. He hopes you share his energy and optimism about Friends & Farmers, and that you'll tell your friends and family about the benefits of membership, and the vision of a local food cooperative where you can shop for great, local foods, often times grown by people you know!
Michael Pipe was born and raised in southeastern Pennsylvania. In 2004, he moved to Centre County to attend Penn State, where he graduated in 2009 with a degree in political science. During his time at Penn State and after graduation, Pipe worked as an assistant manager at a restaurant in downtown State College.
In 2011, Pipe was elected Centre County Commissioner. He is a 2014 graduate of Leadership Centre County. He and his wife, Ashley, live in Millheim and believe in supporting local farmers and producers. “When you’re buying your food from your neighbor and your small business, it’s makes for such a better community.”
As the liaison to the Agricultural Land Preservation Board in Centre County, Pipe has worked with family farms in Centre County, developing a fond appreciation for their efforts to preserve their farms for future generations. He hopes to help those farmers connect with the co-op. He also serves on the Cooperative Extension Board, helping to get the message out to farmers and community members about the resources and research developed by Penn State. Pipe’s experience working with farms has illustrated the far-reaching potential of the local food movement. “In general our society is getting farther from understanding where our food comes from,” he says. “But Centre County is really poised to have that conversation.”
His desire to join the board is fueled both by that awareness, and a desire to take a more active role in the movement’s goals. “This co-op can improve the vibrancy and attractiveness of our community, as well as our ability to grow it,” Pipe says. “Also from a small-business side of things, it will help a number of different pockets of our community from our growers and producers to our restaurants and consumers. It’ll have a ripple effect that I’d like to be a part of and help bring about.”
Cooperatives help create a more intertwined, and interactive, community. Cooperatives help strengthen community ties, and help keep resources locally. They can foster the establishment of additional cooperative ventures, and should educate and inform about cooperative principals. I served on the Board of Our Store, State College's last coop, in the late 1970(s); four years on the Board of Directors of the Cooperative Playschool in SC in the early 1990(s); as cuisine chairman for the Arts Festival from 1991-1993; and was a co-founder of Bullwinkle's Bakery, which was formed as a cooperative in SC in 1980. I was a member of the interim F&F board until 2014. Currently, I am a volunteer tax preparer with VITA of Centre County.
I have a background as a Certified Working Chef and a long-time Purchasing Director for a local hospitality company. Over the years we established many fruitful relationships with local growers and vendors, promoting their businesses and ours. This position also handled inventories, budgets and forecasts, and helped generate P&L statements. I feel this background can benefit F&F greatly. Coops are a business, and must stay mindful of that fact.
The benefits of the cooperative do not easily translate to the consumer side of the economic equation. The hardest task for F&F is educating residents, in a transient town, that the economic aspect of a store is only part of the equation, and that the interests of F&F dovetail with best interests of their families and of their community.
Sara Carlson is a mom, freelance writer and researcher. With more than 15 years of experience in market research and data analysis, Sara has worked with Fortune 500 companies, universities, real estate agents, the food service industry, and government agencies. Before earning her Anthropology degree from Penn State, Sara was a volunteer in Peru, South America, teaching literacy classes for highland farmers and developing her love of local food systems. She discovered her knack for cooking at the feet of a Peruvian woman who explained the art of market shopping: selecting the perfect mango, the freshest chicken, the best farmers.
As a food and family blogger, her focus is on local food and how to make it accessible for families. Sara’s family enjoys gardening, food shopping, and cooking together. When she’s not working on new recipes, or playing with her 2 boys, Sara can be found trolling local markets and farms for the best ingredients. She is excited to be involved with Friends & Farmers Cooperative.
I have been a supporter of the cooperative movement since serving on the Board of Our Store Food Co-op (State College) during the 1980's. I would like to see a retail store food co-op succeed here. I have been a manager of a retail food cooperative (Connecticut) and thus have insight that I feel would be helpful as we progress. With further experience in running a business (Bullwinkle's Bakery) and as a farmer selling at farmers markets and to restaurants, I can offer a unique perspective that would be beneficial. As a developmental coordinator for Tuscarora Organic Growers Cooperative (TOG) I have experience creating win/win relationships with growers, suppliers, and retailers. The challenges that face us are daunting, yet with an engaged membership and a focused Board of Directors, much can be accomplished. One specific issue is how to grow the membership so that it is feasible to open a brick and mortar storefront. Adequately capitalizing the cooperative and building a business plan that will define our aspirations are two other difficult undertakings. Honestly, there are no quick and easy ways to address these issues, and to pretend that I could address and express my 'solutions' in the space provided here in this forum would be disingenuous. Suffice it to say I need to learn more about where Friends and Farmers is now, understand the strengths of the board members and determine how I can compliment their attributes. An engaged membership is PARAMOUNT to our success. This is the key.
Friends & Farmers Cooperative always has a need for dedicated board members and volunteers. If you are considering joining the board, you can read more about it here.