Member Spotlight: Wendy Johnson

Wendy Johnson and her husband, Johnny Rafkin, own and operate Jóia Food Farm, located in Northeast Iowa. Together, they have a 5-year old daughter, Vivienne, who is currently planning her own garden for this coming spring. Wendy is originally from Iowa but moved to California after college to pursue her then love of fashion and marketing. In 2010, Wendy returned to Iowa with Johnny to live and work on the family farm. Wendy felt a strong connection to her family heritage and wanted to respect what her parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents worked so hard to create. When she returned to Iowa, she didn’t know much about agronomy, so she enrolled in a few classes at Iowa State University, took master gardener classes and found mentorship, peers, and resources through Practical Farmers of Iowa.

Jóia Food Farm raises pigs, sheep and lamb, chicken for eggs and meat, turkeys, and ducks. They also grow organic grains and pastures.  The animals are grazed within the organic rotation, adding to the nutrients that the soils need to grow healthy plants. Jóia Food Farm believes in the principles of agro-ecology, with a focus on biodiversity, the sharing of animals and plants working together to create healthy soils, healthy animals, healthy plants, a healthy environment and most importantly, healthy food.

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We’re calling for Owner Investment Campaign Volunteers!

Dear Member-Owners,

We’re calling for Owner Investment Campaign Volunteers!

The Cedar Falls Food Co-Op is growing and site selection for our grocery store is happening! As a site becomes available, we will kick off our Owner Investor Campaign and need your help in doing so. The Owner Investor Campaign Committee is seeking Builders and Communicators—two critical volunteer roles to assist with the Owner Investment Campaign. The Owner Investment Campaign will help the Co-op raise the money needed to open our store, and Builders and Communicators will play key roles in the campaign. A description of both volunteer opportunities is provided below:Continue reading

Board Happenings: March 2018

– We sent 5 representatives to this year’s Up and Coming Food Co-op Conference and they had an insightful and invigorating experience. We can’t wait to take what they learned and put it into practice in creating our co-op!
– As we get closer to entering into Stage 3 we have a lot of technical items need to be completed. Items like the business plan and pro forma are getting finalized and we’re almost ready to launch our Owner Investment Campaign. This is going to be a very big summer for the Co-op and we can’t wait to share all this hard work with our Owners!

April 2018 Special Events


Co-op Connections
Thursday, April 12 from 5 – 6:45 p.m. at The Brass Tap (Cedar Falls)

This casual event is a great way to meet others. Join the Co-op outreach coordinator and others to hear about Co-op updates, get your questions answered, and just enjoy the community vibe. The Brass Tap offers a discount to co-op member-owners, so bring your card. Questions? Contact


Co-op Potluck

Monday, April 16, from 6 – 8 p.m. at Second State Brewing (Cedar Falls)

Want to sample a variety of dishes while engaging in good conversation? All are welcome! Bring a dish to share and if possible, your own table ware. Our potlucks are family-friendly, and we encourage you to bring guests as well. Second State is a business partner, so don’t forget your card if you are a member-owner to get a discount on beer draws. Questions? Contact


Co-op Book Club

Monday April 23, 4:45 p.m. Cedar Falls Library

We are excited to continue our book club this month with The Girl with Seven Names by Hyeonseo Lee. Check it out and come join our lively discussion! Questions? Contact

April 2018 Incentive

Spring represents new beginnings, and it’s appropriate that your Co-op is working toward its final stage of development. With 750 member-owners, we are now looking toward 800 and you can help us get there. Keep spreading the word and if you have not become a member-owner, we hope you will join this month. Together, we can get our store here sooner!

April brings Earth Day, and we are honoring our planet in a variety of ways this month. Keep an eye out for Rooty the Co-op Carrot who is emerging from a long winter nap and is excited to celebrate mother nature with you. Thanks to the Cedar Valley Arboretum and Botanic Gardens, we’ll have a membership to give away, so stay tuned. We are also highlighting some reusable, recyclable items this month that some lucky member-owners will receive. Be sure to keep tabs on all of these activities via our Facebook page where you can find the most updated details.


Happy Earth Day! Happy Spring! Happy Co-op Supporting!

Eat Seasonal in April

The weather is forever changing in Iowa. But this last snow storm was a pretty big one. Leaving us cold and wet with shovels in hand. These colder days can have us seeking a warm pot of goodness at the end of the day. Grab a big pot, add some chicken or vegetable stock, lots of fresh vegetables, a protein of your choice, seasonings, and enjoy! Continue reading

From the Board President: Don’t Miss Out: The Window of Opportunity to Become a Founding Member is Closing

New Pioneer Food Co-op started in Iowa City in 1971. Oneota Food Co-op began in Decorah in 1973. And Wheatsfield Food Co-op traces its roots in Ames back to 1974. Nearly 50 years later, all three of these food co-ops are still thriving. They have each grown and expanded over the years. But most importantly, all of them have become an integral part of the fabric of their respective communities. These stores are icons, not only in Iowa City, Decorah, and Ames, but also across the U.S. (Check out this picture of a New Pioneer T-shirt I found on display last summer at the Brattleboro Food Co-op in Vermont!)

A 1994 New Pioneer staff T-shirt is part of a quilt at the Brattleboro Food Co-op.

Right now, people in Cedar Falls and the surrounding communities are joining together to build a similar legacy here, a business that’s owned by members of the community for the community. With each new member of the Cedar Falls Food Co-op, we get closer to opening the doors.

But when those doors open for the first time, the window of opportunity to become a Founding Member closes.Continue reading

Guest Article: Paola Castillo

Do you wish you could find more nutritional options for children’s parties? Cedar Falls resident, Paola Castillo shares her recent party plan.

Most birthday parties you have probably attended have served candies and a cake saturated with sugars. But my daughter’s birthday party was no typical birthday. My main goal was to serve some organic fruits and vegetables so our little ones could get the best nutrition with friends.

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3 New Businesses Partners are providing great deals for Co-op Member-Owners

Local supports local: almost 70 businesses across the Cedar Valley have partnered with the Co-op by offering discounts and other specials to member-owners. Read on for the latest additions:

Recently opened in downtown Cedar Falls, the Brass Tap provides a wide range of beers, cocktails and delicious food for customers. Co-op member-owners will receive 10% off of Iowa Brewery-of-the-Month beers. Stop in and check out this lively place.

Currently relocated to Ginger Thai (another business partner) at 111 W. 2nd Street in Cedar Falls, Crepes by Nida has both sweet and savory options that will leave you craving more. Enjoy 10% off of your order if you bring your member-owner card (this is the same discount you’ll get if you order from Ginger Thai too). What a mouth-watering deal!

What’s not to love about a business with a carrot theme? We can certainly relate and are thrilled to welcome Wild Carrot as a new business partner. Since 2011, Wild Carrot has offered downtown Waverly visitors delicious homemade locally-sourced breakfast, lunch and dinner. There is also a gift store, and Co-op member-owners will get 10% off their dine-in meal as well as gift store items.