From the Board President

Contrary to public sentiment—and against everything Garfield the Cat stands for—I actually like Mondays. When the week starts anew, I’m excited for all that is possible…what I can learn…what I can experience. The possibilities are endless and I’m looking directly into the eyes of opportunity. Carpe diem!

 

Given my perspective on Mondays, imagine how I feel about New Year’s Day. It is through this lens of excitement for what the future holds that I am filled with optimism for what 2016 holds for the Cedar Falls Food Co-op. And I have good reason to be optimistic for continued growth and success. Here are just some of the reasons:

  • We are nearing 300 members.

This is a huge milestone, putting us nearly one-third of the way towards our goal. But more importantly, it gives of the power of leverage. If each member recruits just two friends or family members to join, then we’re at 900 members. We can accomplish this in a matter of days, not years!

 

  • We have new energy behind the Co-op’s efforts.

The number of key people behind our efforts keeps growing, both on the board and in our committees. And our new outreach coordinator Amy Andrews is adding a lot of energy to the Co-op.

 

  • We’ve accomplished a lot of infrastructure work.

The simplest gauge of how well we’re progressing is our member count, but there are many other ways to measure growth and progress. One gauge is our “systems,” the behind-the-scenes accomplishments, of which we’ve made many this past year, from establishing insurance to conducting our first board elections to creating a style guide. With these behind us, we can focus our efforts on new projects for 2016.

 

So, what does 2016 hold for the Cedar Falls Food Co-op? We hope to see member growth increase significantly this year. We are looking forward to hiring a consultant to conduct our market analysis and develop our financial pro forma. And we’re looking to start deciding on a location. Yes, big things for the Co-op will be happening this year.

Let’s do this!

 

Attention Members: Have a Party to Support the Co-op

Did you know that there are over 140 food co-ops across the U.S. that are actively working to open a store, just like the Cedar Falls Food Co-op? All of these co-ops are working on growing their membership levels. Did you know the most effective method to raise new members? Existing members!

 

Research shows that member-owners already have a vested interest in their co-op, and they are the best at promoting to others the value and benefits of joining. Did you know the best way they can promote co-op membership? By hosting house parties.

 

A house party is very simple. You choose an approach: a potluck, a movie night, a dinner party, etc., and invite some friends to share some laughter and conversation. All we ask is that at some point, you share your passion through your story of why you support the co-op. If you want, a board or committee member can be available to answer any questions and take memberships on the spot. That’s it!

 

Right now, we’re offering an incentive to every member who hosts a house party by the end of February. For every party you host, you’ll be entered into a drawing to win a new queen mattress set, courtesy of Business Partner Fosters Mattress. Check out the House Party handbook for more info on hosting your house party. Help the Co-op grow!

Member Spotlight: Wyatt Vucic

Wyatt VucicAny place you can eat good food feels like home. That’s a lesson you might learn from the story of Cedar Falls Food Co-op member Wyatt Vucic. Wyatt loves to travel and his travel mantra goes something like this: “Venture aimlessly, do an activity, stumble upon a hidden pub or café, enjoy the local menu, laugh, remember and repeat. ” The desire to connect with a place lead him to involvement in a community garden during a six month stay in Austria, and it is also what lead him here, to the Cedar Falls Food Co-op.

“I just moved here from the Quad Cities this past summer to open up a new local franchise: Batteries + Bulbs,” Wyatt explained. “Prior to coming to the area I did a lot of research. One of the things I searched for was local markets. I’m always looking for a great market to see the different things offered and more importantly be able to purchase locally. I discovered the co-op in my searches, started reading into it and it grabbed my attention. I thought it would be a great way to meet people (being new to the area), a great way to introduce Batteries + Bulbs in a natural way, not just going around handing out business cards—all while being a part of something that I am passionate about: healthy living and being sustainable.”

Wyatt is excited about being part of bringing local food to the Cedar Valley. He’s glad the local food movement is happening, but wants to be part of the co-op because, “[local food] is one of those things that should remain timeless and hopefully this newfound obsession with local will instill that in people’s minds. Yes, there is always cheaper out there, but I am more than willing even searching for the better, the fresher, the handmade and the quality over a quick buck.”

As Wyatt continues to make Cedar Falls home he has been getting involved with the Boys and Girls Club, doing some gardening on his own, and is looking forward to attending future co-op events using his co-op member discount at more local businesses. Welcome home Wyatt!

Winter Biking

With temperatures dropping and the unpredictability of Iowa winters, you might have packed up your bike for the year. But with some small modifications and clothing additions, you can keep up your bike commute through everything Mother Nature has to throw at us.

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Chances are, your normal bike will be suitable for most winter conditions. If you have a standard road racing bike you’ll want to look into getting tires with a more aggressive tread. Mountain bikes, hybrids, and fat tire bikes work great. Some riders will switch to old singlespeeds during the winter because there are fewer moving parts to get gunked up with salt and grime. Adding a fender can help keep you clean and pedals with more grip, like BMX pedals, will help your feet stay on the pedals will leaving them free if you need to put them down in a hurry. Unless you plan to clean your bike after every ride, it’s best to leave it in a cold area, so there is less of a chance for ice to form on the gears and brakes. Pay extra attention to lubricating all your gears to keep you bike running smoothly.

Visibility is key during these darker months. Bike lanes and paved trails are often not plowed, leaving you to share more of the road with cars. Adding extra lights to your bike (and body) and wearing a safety vest can help insure that motorists notice you. The majority of the time, plowing and salting will mean the road conditions are not all that unusual. Keep an eye out for slush and icy, especially on turns, or areas that have been packed into ice from the weight of cars. The key is to take your time and give yourself extra room to maneuver.

Dressing for the winter on a bike is simple: layer, layer, layer. Start with a base wicking layer, then an insulating layer, and finish with a wind- and waterproof shell. For your legs, you typically need one less layer. Jeans covered with a windproof shell tends to work well. Balaclavas and buffs do a good job of keeping your face warm, and ear muffs or skull caps layer well under your helmet. Ski goggles or sunglasses keep the wind out of your eyes, and helps cut down on the glare from snow. Mittens, specifically the “lobster-claw” style, are best for your hands because they keep your fingers closer together and therefore, warmer. On especially windy days you can layer glove liners with a windproof mitten shell. For your feet, it’s most important that your footwear be wind- and waterproof, so more often than not boots are a better option than bike or athletic shoes.

Unfortunately, even with the best planning, sometimes what winter has in store for us is more than we can bear. Bikes break down, conditions get a bit too harsh, and you have to call it quits. Be sure to plan (and test) your route ahead of time, and if possible, have it run near bus routes in case you need to catch a ride. Also be sure to keep a stocked safety kit and cell phone on you in case of emergency. Safe riding out there!

First Annual Member-Owner Meeting a Success

On Tuesday November 10th, the Cedar Falls Food Co-op’s Board of Directors held its first ever annual member meeting.

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Eager anticipation filled the room as President of the Board, Tom Wickersham, greeted all of the attendees and kicked off the meeting with board member introductions. Member of the board, Erica Graen, presented a recap of the Co-op’s events, community involvements, presentations, local business partnerships, membership drives and achievements this past year. It’s been a fun and busy year!

Treasurer of the Board, Kristel McClenahan, presented the financial report as well. Revenues look strong and thus far, operating on budget. 

Membership Committee member Brenna Griffin shared ways to talk to friends about the Co-op and introduced our newest member incentive program. Please make sure to like and follow our Facebook page on a frequent basis so as not to miss all of the wonderful talents that our board and committee members have creatively put together to share with new members that join online.

Members had the chance to participate by voting for our first-ever board member elections. The meeting also held an open forum for questions from members in attendance such as when the co-op will open, where will it be located and how we can help grow membership. Based on our current membership numbers, the co-op is nearly through phase one of our three phase timeline. Currently, we have more than 260 members. If each of us invited and encouraged 2 or 3 friends to join the co-op, we’d be at the final phase and preparing to open the doors of the Cedar Falls Food Co-op much sooner!

The evening ended with the unofficial count for the votes and introduction of our newly elected board members, Jess Cruz, Brenna Griffin and Sheri Huber-Otting, plus the the drawing of the winner of the Winter Getaway Give-Away. Congratulations to new CFFC member, Cindy Miller…have fun at the Big Woods Lake Cabin!

Thanks to everyone who has made 2015 a great year for community-building in Cedar Falls! Let’s keep the momentum going!

Member Spotlight: Vanessa Kruger

Homesteader Vanessa Kruger believes in strengthening her local economy and knowing where her food comes from. That is why she shopped at Wheatsfield Co-op when she lived in Ames and why she’s excited to be a founding member of the Cedar Falls Food Co-op.  It’s also why she raises most of her own meat and vegetables. Check out her cute baby dairy goats, which she raises in addition to gardening and raising hogs and poultry!

If you’re wondering how homesteading is working out for Vanessa, just ask her about the Thanksgiving meal prepared. “It was entirely homegrown,” she explained. She raised not only her Thanksgiving turkey, but supplemented it with potatoes, glazed carrots, a squash and sausage stuffing , and apple and pumpkin pies. Sound like a lot of work? “I loved doing it, I was so pleased with how it turned out!”

If you’re in awe of Vanessa’s expertise, it’s something she’d love to share. She says that while she’s still new to the community she’d love to offer classes on subjects such as cheese and soap making, lard rendering, canning or gardening.

Vanessa Kruger

Host a Membership Party, Win a New Bed Set from Foster’s Mattress

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Are you a co-op member? Are you in need of new mattress and box springs? If so, help recruit families to join the Cedar Falls Food Co-op by hosting a house party. This is an event in which you invite friends, family, co-workers, and other acquaintances to learn more about the benefits of membership in the Cedar Falls Food Co-op. As an incentive, our business partner Foster’s Mattress has donated a new Serta Perfect Sleeper Queen Euro Top (retail value is $1300) which includes the mattress and box springs. Every time you host a house party you are entered into a drawing to win this bed set.

What is a house party? It is basically anything you wish it to be. It can be as simple as hosting a potluck meal, inviting friends over to watch a food-related documentary, or going out for a snowshoe or cross-country ski excursion and coming back to your house for hot chocolate and chili. The sky is the limit on what you can do. The only stipulations are that you are a current member, you invite at least some people who are not yet members, and you invite a co-op board or committee member to stop in to help you talk about the Co-op and answer any questions your guests have. By providing us with your guest list and a brief description of the event, you will be entered into the drawing if you have hosted your party between December 1 and February 29.

As we march toward our goal of acquiring at least 1,000 members before we open the store, you as a co-op member will help us get there. These house parties are a proven way to encourage others you know to join our efforts. We even have a house party packet to make it easy for you. If you have any questions or this has inspired you to go to your calendar to pick a date, contact the Co-op at info@cedarfallsfoodcoop.org.

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From the Board President: Welcome New Board Members

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The Co-op membership has spoken. The Cedar Falls Food Co-op’s first Board elections went off without a hitch. Thanks to all who helped make the elections run smoothly, especially Judy Schindel, CPA, who served as our election official. Special thanks, too, to everyone who stepped up to run for the Board. We couldn’t do it without your willingness to serve!

Selected to serve three year terms are Jess Cruz, Brenna Griffin and Sheri Huber-Otting. All three Board members have been involved for many years on Co-op committees, so they bring a wealth of experience to their new leadership roles on the Board. Please join me in welcoming them to the Board! Also, many thanks to outgoing Board members Erica Graen, Julie Halevan, and Steve Hoodjer. We’ll be sad to see them step down, but good news…all three will continue to help with the Co-op effort by working with the Co-op’s committees. Leave a comment to let them know how much you appreciate their leadership since the very first Steering Committee was formed nearly three years ago.

Over the past year I’ve written about a number of the 7 Cooperative Principles. Seeing as we’ve completed our first ever Board election, it’s a good time to talk about P2: Democratic Governance. I feel the value of democratic governance is self-evident. Of course we’d all prefer to have a say in the businesses we frequent. Considering that we shop grocery stores approximately 1.6 times per week, having a say in how our local grocery store runs its operations would be a great value to us.

I’d like to take this opportunity to talk about the remaining six Board members, including myself. The CFFC is committed to ensuring that all Board members are democratically elected. Over time, each of your Board members will be elected members. But this will take a few years as we transition from a steering committee to a fully-elected Board of Directors. Here’s how this will work: Each year, three of the nine seats will be up for election for three-year terms. This year marked the first set of Board members elected to serve. Next year, we’ll have three more transition on, and then in 2017, Co-op members will elect the final set of three Board members. 

The Co-op’s bylaws allowed for this sort of gradual transition from willing volunteers to willing volunteers who were elected to serve. We feel this was a great solution as we shift from an idea to a business run by and for its members. Democratic governance is a great principal for the Co-op! 

In cooperation,

Tom Wickersham

“Small and Strong” Food Co-op Conference Recap

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Four representatives of the Cedar Falls Food Co-op attended the “SMALL AND STRONG” Food Co-op Conference in Bloomington, MN, on November 7, 2015.  We learned from industry experts with organizations like Food Co-op Initiative, Northcountry Cooperative Development Fund, and CDS Consulting Co-op and networked with other Midwest food co-ops.  With topics like Financing the Startup Co-op and Designing an Effective Member Recruitment Campaign, we all returned with many new take-aways, but also with much reinforcement and encouragement.

For starters, we’re not in this alone: just in the Midwest, there are plenty of opportunities to collaborate with food co-ops that are in startup mode, as well as great consultants who make helping co-ops their life’s work.  We are making a difference for our community; a co-op strengthens the entire community and is a source of pride.  And while much of the funding for a food co-op comes from its member-owners, ownership is more than just capital. It’s a pledge of support and an important source of leverage.

We thank the Northcountry Cooperative Foundation and the other conference presenters and sponsors for this opportunity to connect and learn with other co-op folks in our region.  We look forward to attending again next year!


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Crock Pot Apple Butter

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Crock Pot Apple Butter

8 cups peeled and sliced apples -sweet varieties will make it sweeter of course (*apple peelers/corers/slicers are a good investment when doing big batches)

1 Tbsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. nutmeg

1/2 tsp. cloves

1/2 tsp. allspice

1/4 c. organic sugar (less or none if you want it less sweet, the apples are already sweet)

Put apples, spices, and sugar in crockpot with lid and turn it on high for 3-4 hours or until the apples soften. Use a smasher, immersion blender, or regular blender to purify the apples to a consistency you like. Put the mix back in the crock pot with the lid off and cook for 8-12 hours on low. You can do it on a stovetop in a large pan quicker if you want to stir more so it doesn’t burn to the bottom. The idea is to evaporate as  much moisture as you can, the longer its on the thicker it will get. When it’s ready, you can eat it, refrigerate it for up to 2 weeks, or *can it. 

*Apple peelers/corers/slicers > http://victorio.info/apple-peeler—clamp.html

*For canning instructions refer to a site such as this: http://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can_02/apple_butter.html