Member Spotlight: Sasha Wohlpart

Wohlpart 1Food is essential. It sustains us, it comforts us, and it brings us together in community. Our bodies crave it, our days are punctuated by it and yet, for many, our relationship with it is fractured. As someone who grew up in an urban environment, food, as I knew it, came from the grocery store. Much of it was sold in boxes, bags or cans that advertised how quickly and easily it could be prepared – Just pop it in the microwave and, presto, dinner!

 

As a teenager, I started questioning my diet. What was this food that I was eating? Why were there so many ingredients that I couldn’t pronounce? Where did it all come from? I began to minimize my consumption of packaged and fast foods and turn more to fruits and vegetables and other foods that I could readily identify. My curiosity intensified as an adult. I read books, watched documentaries, taught courses on sustainability with a focus on food, and participated in activities that expanded my understanding of agricultural practices. All of this has led me to the belief that our personal, communal, economic, and environmental health is best when we have a more intimate connection with our food and its source.

 

This past summer, my husband, Jim, and I relocated to the Cedar Valley. I was confident that our new home in the heartland of this country would provide me with great opportunities to continue my education about modern food practices and production. Shortly after we arrived, I was excited to learn about the efforts happening here to build a food co-op, exactly what I have been craving since those early days of questioning. Although a food co-op provides a place to buy fresh, healthy, ethically sourced food, it is not just a grocery store in the traditional sense. It is also a community space for the exchange of ideas and information, it is a place where we can learn from and be inspired by our neighbors, and it is an opportunity to gather around practices that promote a happy, healthy lifestyle.

 

My family has felt the warm embrace of the Cedar Valley community from the moment we arrived, which has inspired me to want to give back in meaningful ways. My eagerness to participate as an active member of the food co-op is a direct result of that inspiration. I believe in the power of a food co-op to bring people together in celebration of food, rekindling a relationship with the very stuff that sustains us, to heal the fracture that separates us from what nourishes us.

 

 

Business Partner Spotlight: Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner – the day of love, romance and all things sentimental. Before reaching for the usual heart-shaped box of chocolates, consider the benefits of your Cedar Falls Food Co-op membership.

For instance, how about having dinner with the one you love at Cafe Due or Montage? Not only will the two of you enjoy a wonderfully prepared meal, but with your membership you’ll save 10% off of your entire bill.

If your significant other is a fitness buff, think about buying a class package at Balance Hot Yoga or making a purchase for him or her at The Runner’s Flat.

For the coffee lover in your life, there are definitely perks to having your membership at Cup of Joe, Sidecar Coffee and Cottonwood Canyon.

If you want to spend some quality time together, you could enjoy a workshop at Three Pines Farm or relax with a Brew Debut at Singlespeed Brewing.

There are many opportunities available with your Cedar Falls Food Co-op membership. For a complete list of business partners and the benefits offered for each one, check out all of our Business Partner Specials.

Recipe: Winter Vegetable Pot Pie

With each winter brings some predictable patterns. Whether it’s more time dedicated to football or to finding a warm place to curl up with a book, we all have our winter habits. When the snow comes, my wife can’t wait to break out the cross country skis. Me? I look forward to making this yummy meal. It can be the centerpiece for a Christmas dinner or part of a simple evening with friends. The crust recipe is easy and delicious, so use it for other savory recipes.

In cooperation,

Tom Wickersham

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Business Partner Spotlight: Sidecar Coffee Roasters

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We are very excited to share with you a little bit more information about a business partner that has been an integral part of our growth from fairly early on in our grassroots effort to bring a food co-op to Cedar Falls. Sidecar Coffee Roasters, owned by CFFC founding member-owner Jed VanderZanden, roasts their high-quality coffee beans right here in Cedar Falls!

This month, Jed is roasting up one of thee finest quality coffees out there. Once roasted to perfection, this single-origin coffee boasts a nice, bright, lemony character with floral notes. If you’ve never tried Kenyan coffee now is the time to check it out. Be sure to use your coupon code to get 10% off, type CFCOOP10 & your member # into the notes section when placing your online order. Subscription service is available too. If you live in Cedar Falls, you’ll receive your coffee on your doorstep within 2 days!! Fast & fresh. However, try to make sure you take time to sip & savor the delicious coffee that Sidecar Coffee Roasters crafts.

Finally, Jed wanted me to share with you all that he REALLY wants you to take advantage of not just his offer, but ALL of the offers provided by business owners throughout our area. Want to learn more about who’s on our killer list? Check out our business partner program listing by clicking here

New Business Partner Program Members

It’s a new year and the co-op has some new business partnerships to announce! Eagle Peak Healing Arts Center & Cup of Joe coffeehouse have joined the line-up of an already killer list of local area businesses that are flocking to help us get the word out about the Cedar Falls Food Co-op!! These businesses believe in our mission enough to offer all of you, our beloved founding membership, wonderful deals from their already established businesses. Please be sure to use your membership card and take advantage of all of the awesome savings provided by businesses like Eagle Peak Healing Arts Center & Cup of Joe.

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The next time you head into Cup of Joe for a medium sized drip coffee be sure to bring your membership card & get a FREE upgrade to a large!! Oh, and of course, if you plan to get a large in the first place, bring your card to save some coin!! Cha-ching! Cup of Joe is offering all CFFC member-owners a large drip coffee for the price of a medium. 

EaglePeakHealingArts

Are you feeling out of sorts? Pain, fatigue, anxious, congested? Try acupuncture! If you have never received acupuncture before you owe it to yourself to check it out and Eagle Peak Healing Arts Center is offering a HUGE savings on your first treatment (only $45!) plus 10% off of any salves or patches you may choose to purchase.

The other really awesome part of the businesses that joined our Business Partner Program this month is that both decision makers also joined as Cedar Falls Food Co-op founding member-owners!! 2016 is off to a great start!

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.

bike

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!