Your voice impacts the co-op's next bold move.
For many, the Friends & Farmers story began in 2014, when a membership kick-off generated foundational equity in a community-owned brick and mortar grocery store that would support area farmers and a vibrant local food system. Today, more than 500 community households bolster that vision, earning a voice in the co-op's ever-changing journey.
As a stepping-stone toward a store, the board launched the Friends & Farmers Online Market in November 2014 and pursued and won a USDA local food promotion grant in 2015. These bold moves brought an exciting addition to our community, and required immense contributions in time and skills by staff, volunteers and board members. If measured by brand awareness and relationships with producers, these efforts have yielded success. As we near the end of the USDA grant, the co-op stands at the precipice of another bold decision.
With 500+ members, we have collected roughly $130,000 in membership equity and have spent about $74,000 in equity to operate and promote the Online Market and subsidize membership growth. These expenditures were not frivolous, nor taken on without serious consideration. An estimated $25,000 in annual equity expenditure is required to operate our current Online Market business model without the support of the grant.These numbers are prompting a re-evaluation of our trajectory, and we are holding a membership meeting to get your input.
Issues to Discuss
1. The local food landscape is constantly evolving, and it is important to evaluate our position. Does membership still prioritize the original vision of a brick and mortar store? Have preferences shifted? Your input is valued and needed.
2. Through the Online Market, members and non-members can purchase local food and support local vendors. Should the market continue in its current form? The Online Market does not make money. Can we operate the market in a way that ensures the financial health of the cooperative?
Over the next few weeks, board members and volunteers will be calling you, our membership, to remind you of this important meeting and discuss your vision for your co-op. In the meantime, we invite you to stay informed. Financial statements, the staff's Online Market proposal and other information is available upon request to firstname.lastname@example.org
Join us April 30. Exceptional member turnout will ensure decisions that reflect the collective will of our owners. Post meeting, we'll invite members to weigh in with an online vote open for 10 days .
The staff and board have worked hard to analyze numbers and discuss alternative models. By following the cooperative principles of member ownership and democratic decision-making, we will have what's needed to lead and write our next chapter.
Friends & Farmers Board of Directors and Staff
850 Stratford Dr
State College, PA 16801
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