Category: Events

1st P6 Month Tailgate at Viroqua Food Co-op

Viroqua Food Co-op has a well established P6 Tailgate event every March, where vendors come and talk with VFC shoppers about their products and the local food system. This year, the staff at VFC decided to double up and host a second tailgate: a P6 Month Tailgate!

Representatives from 10 small, local, and cooperative producers handed out samples on special discounted products from tomatoes to beer to sauerkraut. A member of the P6 national office came and staffed an informational table, including a raffle for a P6 prize pack with a full case of La Riojana wine.

Check out pictures from the event:

The producers present at this event included:

Moscow Food Co-op Launches P6 In Style

Congratulations to Moscow Food Co-op, which fully launched the P6 program with an amazing parking lot party on Sunday, August 28. Over 600 community members came through their party, which featured 28 small, local, and cooperative vendors. Just among those producers who were in the parking lot, P6 sales on the day of the party were $2000!

Some feedback from vendors:

  • “Thank you so much for inviting us to the event! Our sales and marketing manager said it was the best tasting all around that she’s EVER done! The level of thoughtfulness and interest of all those in attendance was amazing! Thank you so much!”
  • “I thought the customers really liked it and were very involved and excited about the party!”
  • “Gained new interested customers!”

Check out pictures from the event:

A P6 Fall in Arkansas

The Tour de Farms and the Farmer Appreciation Dinner were cornerstones of Ozark Natural Food’s relationships with their customers and producers before they ever joined P6. Upon launching P6 in fall 2014, the ONF staff re-envisioned these events with a P6 perspective. The new P6 Tour de Farms is bigger and more inclusive, bringing ONF members to breweries and coffee roasters as well as farms, and the P6 Appreciation Dinner is open to all 120 P6 producers who make or grow products for the co-op. Here’s reports from ONF’s Pauline Thiessen about these exciting events.

P6 Tour de Farms

Core Brewery 20115 Tour De FarmsThis past October Ozark Natural Foods hosted its second annual P6 Tour de Farms where owners and guests could tour over 20 participating Principle 6 farms, breweries, coffee roaster shops, a soap business, and one winery and vineyard.  Following the precedent set in its first year, Tour de Farms continues to be the most popular event in terms of owner participation, with over 300 registrants in 2015!  Originally borrowed from New Leaf Market, ONF organized the first set of tours in 2014 as a way for its ownership to connect directly with regional farmers who grow food to sell through the coop.  After the launch of P6, the event grew to include area P6 businesses who sell their value added products through the store.

Ozark Pasture Beef 2015 Tour De FarmsUp from 8 stops to 21 stops in its second year, the event was organized into 6 different teams, or suggested routes.  The stops were clustered in Fayetteville, AR where the co-op is located, and around neighboring towns that ranged from 10-70 miles away from the store with average driving time at 1 hour to locations in surrounding counties. One route went to the neighboring sister city, Springdale; another south of Fayetteville; 2 routes spread out east around rural Huntsville and the historic city of Eureka Springs; and the furthest one away took attendees to a different growing region outside of the Ozark hills that is referred to as the River Valley. The closing event was held at the educational farm to school garden in the lot adjacent to the coop with tours of both Ozark Natural Foods and our organic chicken and livestock feedstore, Ozark Natural Feeds.

Plentygood Farm 2015 Tour De FarmsOn the tour, farms promote two-hour tour windows, while businesses arranged for group tours at specific times so each team could easily organize in terms of a suggested driving route. Registrants receive a “passport” containing all of this information, as well as addresses and maps, prior to the start of the tour weekend. This year folks could start signing up a month before the event and come back to the store to pick up their passports two weeks early.  People who visited 9 or more of the 21 stops could return their stamped passports to the store and be entered to win one of 2 shopping sprees or a Farm and Garden giveaway valued at $100. Each stop has fun things including organized tours, prepared samples of food from the farm, refreshments provided from the coop,  various demonstrations like How to Build a Cold Frame or No-Till Farming, and farms and businesses are encouraged to have their product available for purchase.

Ugly Bunny 2015 Tour De FarmsThe event is free, open to the public, and paid for by ONF’s Farmer Committee with a budget under the store’s Marketing and Outreach department.  ONF started the Farmer Committee over 7 years ago with the aim of providing additional support to farmers actively growing produce for the coop.  The Farmer Committee is a volunteer group of owners, farmers, and staff of ONF dedicated to educating and supporting local farmers and encouraging the transition to organic farming practices by offering resources and assistance.  The committee also envisions a vibrant network of local organic food producers that increases the availability of organic food for the Northwest Arkansas community.
Saddlebock Brewery 2015 Tour De FarmsAfter just one year, the tour became popular enough that both farmers and owners were already looking forward to 2015.  ONF is planning to continue the annual tour in 2016. Last year we averaged over 40 attendees per stop and this year, with more stops, the average was in the mid-twenties. Based on feedback from our first year, we added the suggested routes and posted directions on the website for some of the harder-to-find stops.

White River Creamery 2015 Tour De FarmsThe New Leaf farm tour has grown to over 1,400 participants with over 40 stops and offered workshops.  We are excited to see our P6 Tour de Farms grow as a regional event that connects people with the farmers who grow their food at their community coop.  P6 events like the tour have already created positive results. We had owners come back to the store just to buy Spence’s chicken because they got to go to Across the Creek farm and understand just how much effort it takes an Iraq war vet to raise pasture poultry on non-GMO feed on a land trust in south Fayetteville, and our community wants to support family farms like that.  You can see that understanding and awareness grow in a tangible way when folks can share food from the farm with the farmer who grew it, right after a personal farm tour.  To me, that is P6 in action, that is the importance of the cooperative business model.


P6 Appreciation Dinner

DSC_0127This past December, Ozark Natural Foods celebrated and took a chance to say thanks to all of the store’s P6 producers at our 6th Annual P6 Appreciation Dinner in Fayetteville, AR. Invitations were given to all 120 P6 farms and businesses that work to produce and add value to food for the co-op. Over 90 producers were able to make it to the dinner held at the Garden Room on Thursday, December 3rd.

The dinner started at 5pm with appetizers and donated beer from P6 producer Core Brewing Company.  The guests enjoyed the food trays DSC_0133and lager while a slide show played with pictures of every P6 producer the dinner formally began. The dinner is emceed each year by me, Pauline Thiessen, Fresh Foods Manager and the store’s fresh foods P6 Liaison. I opened with greeting everyone to much applause and introduced the other staff presenters for the evening. Representatives from throughout our store’s P6 program spoke about their experiences working with producers. The store’s prepared foods department catered the event and served made from scratch food like Roasted Lamb & Chicken, Savory Winter Squash Stuffing, Mashed Sweet Potatoes, Roasted Roots, a Fresh Winter Salad, and Maple Spice Cake, all featuring local ingredients from P6 producers.

DSC_0142We organize the dinner a little differently every year with a different focal point for the event.  We’ve had presenters who’ve created food hubs in their area and other sustainable food systems advocates, we’ve premiered a documentary we produced, we’ve done an awards dinner, and this year we wanted to have a discussion with our producers about competition planning. Between March of 2015 and March of 2016, both Natural Grocers and Whole Foods will have opened their doors less than 3 miles from the co-op.  With direct competitions and other traditional stores stepping up their game on the organic and local foods, our store, like many other co-ops across the country, is noticing the impact. We’ve spent years now doing competition prep planning, had board and owner visioning, staff input, and talked to other coops, and thought we should get some feedback from our producers.  We saw this year’s dinner as an opportunity to have a conversation with our producers about their ideas for thriving in the face of competition and specifically how P6 and the direct vendor relationship can help strengthen our store as well as their businesses.

DSC_0148The competition discussion was led by Mike after short presentations about how P6 works in the different departments and a P6 year review and farmer committee report. Since this was our first full year of being a P6 coop, we really wanted to have staff members talk about the program in action in their different departments, to give the producers an idea of what the staff are doing with P6, its impact, and new aspects of the program that we’ve developed this past year. Debbie spoke about how the cashiers use P6 to engage customers and the store’s New Leaf program, a way that customers can round up their purchases and donate the amount towards a specific need or project from the store’s P6 producers. Zee talked about it from her perspective during nights and weekends and what she was doing to source and promote P6 beer & wine. Mee talked about the tools she developed for tracking crop agreements, shopping P6 in packaged products, and her new liaison position before I presented.

DSC_0150I was excited to review our first full year of P6. We’re doing a lot more P6 events now and I wanted everyone to know how our collective involvement with the national trade movement was impacting our local store. I thanked everyone from the host room and servers to ONF staff and board, and then of course, the producers. Part of the intention of the dinner is to help our producers develop a sense of being a distinct group within our community. We had some really fun things to report, like Mee’s new liaison position, sales data from events like our P6 Shindigs, and the things everyone waits for in the farmer committee report: who our top producer was (Sycamore Bend Farm) and the total dollar amount of fresh foods purchased over the past year.  In 2014 we purchased over $167,000 of local fresh fruits and veggies. This year we sourced over $201,000 of P6 produce and plants!

DSC_0141I think this is due to two things: our new approach with fresh foods and increased participation with P6.  I was completely amazed and so thrilled that the number had increased so much and despite a slump in overall store sales. I think it’s an healthy indication of the resilience of our producers and ours store, and like I told them, it almost brought a tear to my eye.  It’s great to know and be able to share this information.  People can get down after years like this one where torrential rains caused 50-75% crop losses for 3 of our top producers and people are waiting to compare us to Whole Foods. Things like the dinner just lift everyone’s spirits for an evening and remind us all of the bigger picture. Our producers look forward to ‘the dinner’ every year and it’s had a tangibly positive impact on vendor relations, something I view as a core part of P6. With 2015 coming to a close we’re all looking forward to 2016 with crop planning, new tools for P6 vendors created by the staff, and of course, to next year’s dinner.

Seward Co-op’s P6 Month Kick-Off

This blog post is by Laura Larson, Demo Coordinator at Seward Co-op. Photos by Nick Littlefield.

Seward P6 Month SignSeward Co-op goes big for P6 month! We start the month off with our P6 Kick-Off Event, held annually (and in our 4th year!) on the first Saturday in August. It’s a full store of sales, samples, raffles, information tables, and social media giveaways. We continue this energy throughout the month, focusing heavily on booking demos with P6 vendors every weekend in August. These vendors communicate with our buyers to ensure specials on their products, which make for great sales and happy customers. Many of our vendors choose to have sales that last the entire month, and others choose to just focus on a specific sales cycle. Either way, we strive to align their sales with their sampling days.

During the Kick-off event, we have a staff person, in this case our amazing Demo Specialist, Amy, greeting customers as they walk in the door with samples of Equal Exchange chocolates and a raffle to win one of two $25 gift cards to the Seward Co-op. Demos throughout the store showcase a number of different vendors representing all three aspects of the P6 program.

Gerhards Brats Seward KickoffWe were proud to feature Gerhard’s Brats, a local, small producer that use a traditional German bratwurst recipe from Gerhard’s family in Austria. Their infamous t-shirts read “Friends Don’t Let Friends Put Ketchup On Brats”. We typically sell maybe 6 packages of Gerhard’s on an average Saturday. During our P6 Kick-off Event, we sold a whopping 112! Customers love his personality and being able to share in something deeper than just heating up a sample to make a sale.

Punk Rawk Lab Seward KickoffAnother vendor we featured was Punk Rawk Labs, who create raw food, artisanal vegan cheeses made from cashews and macadamias. Their interactions while demoing usually involve convincing a customer that yes, vegan cheese can be amazing, and when the customer gives it a try they are blown away. Being able to sample the different flavors (Original, Smoked, Nacho, Herbed) really gives the customer an interactive experience while our awesome PRL representative and employee, Kim, talks about the benefits of raw cuisine and the many ways to enjoy nutmilk cheeses. As far as sales go? Nearly as impressive as Gerhard’s- a normal Saturday sees sales of maybe 3 or 4 packages of cheese. Kim sold nearly 35 packages during her demo during the event! Due to the handmade, quality nature, these cheeses have a bit of a high price point and it’s great to give customers an opportunity to sample before making an investment.

We also had the privilege of having Ruby from P6 staff a P6 information table where she talked about P6 and handed out P6 stickers and samples of Maple Valley maple syrup lemonade.

rsz_nl_5676Coinciding with Kick-off was the continuation of our annual Know Our Grower program. Through this program, we invite farmers into the tore during the height of their growing season to sample their produce in creative ways and to engage with customers about the season and the farm. This is an incredible opportunity to ask questions and try new recipes, and we were lucky that Eduardo Rivera from Sin Fronteras Farm and Food was able to participate. Eduardo made a big batch of pineapple tomatillo salsa using tomatillos and hot peppers grown on his farm in Stillwater, Minn. Seward Co-op employees stopped by the classroom, where he was preparing all morning, wondering what the incredible smell was!

In addition to the raffles the day of our Kick-off event, we have a raffle box to give away two $25 gift cards every weekend throughout August. The raffle tickets contain a line for writing your favorite P6 vendor or item, and it’s always fun to see what our customers write down (“St. Paul Bagelry Cream Cheese (yum)” “Right now? Fresh squeezed lemonade @the deli counter!” And lots of smiley faces and cute drawings.) We keep the raffle box on a large display in a main thoroughfare of the store dedicated to highlighting seasonal merchandising themes. Of course, in August we focus on P6 so the table display is chock-full of shelf-stable P6 treats, wellness items, and general merchandise.

Seward P6Plate Twitter contest entryWe also employ the use of social media to generate excitement for P6. In the past we’ve done a P6 Selfie Contest, where customers can tweet or post a photo of themselves and a favorite P6 item. This year our social media coordinator created #p6plate, where customers could upload photos of their deli meal (artistically rendered or not), for a chance to win P6 prizes.

Another way we connect customers with P6 vendors is through our Staff Picks- handwritten note cards posted near items written by staff showcasing their love of that pLone Grazer staff pick on the shelfroduct. These are great for increasing sales and really draw the eye to a product. This method goes over particularly well in the produce department, where people are a little more tentative with the unfamiliar. Staff picks allow staff to communicate not only about the source of the item but ideas on how to prepare it.

During August and throughout the year, one of the things I hear over and over again from our P6 vendors is how much they love sampling and selling their products at Seward. Aside from the fantastic customer base and engaged staff, they feel taken care of and find the support of the P6 program is vital to their wellbeing as small, local, and co-operative producers.

Reflections on P6 Annual Meeting from Ozark Natural Foods







A version of this post by Pauline of Ozark Natural Foods first appeared on their website. Thanks to Pauline and everyone at ONF for all their work to host our Annual Meeting this year!


At the end of May, we had the honor of hosting the Annual National P6 Board of Directors Meeting. Twenty representatives from the growing number of retail and wholesale cooperatives visited Northwest Arkansas to discuss the program, see how the program works in our store, and to vote on the board. This meeting was also historic as we got to elect the first official Board of Directors since the original members voted to become a member owned national cooperative in the spring of last year. We were so excited to host the meeting and meet amazing individuals from member co-ops including Sewards, Viroqua, Roanoke, Maple Valley, Farmer Direct, Three Rivers Market, Eastside, Menomonie, and CROPP, which most of you might know as Organic Valley along with Aaron Reser and Ruby Levine, the national program director and marketing assistant for P6.

The meeting was short and packed full of vibrant discussion on the values and logistics of cooperatively produced and distributed food, using the program to tell the story of P6 producers, the challenges and competition facing co-ops, and visions and directions for our new board. The meeting took place at Mt. Sequoyah, where our guests were lodged, and was catered by Ozark Natural Foods. Our northern friends seemed to particularly enjoy our house made biscuits and gravy. [Ed: can confirm.] The group mostly arrived on Wednesday night and started flying out Friday afternoon so their visit was mostly business, reports, intense idea sharing, and presentations. We did get to find time for some Fayetteville fun though! Some of the members along with myself and Ali, our Marketing Manager, met up the first night for a great dinner at Four Corners Kitchen where they got to enjoy all the local foods purchased and prepared in this wonderful new restaurant that is focused on the same thing we are in our kitchen here at ONF, using a menu that is built around seasonal local, and in our case, P6 farm offerings. (Special thanks to CROPP for taking us out!)

The next night was our turn and it was our delight to be able to take our guests and cooperative advocates out to dinner at Green House Grill with 2 of our own P6 producers, Tessa and Scott from White River Creamery and Mee McGill from Roots in Bloom. They, along with Genevieve Villines from Villines Family Farm, took time off their extremely busy farms to be a part of a workshop exercise and tell their story to the board and member representatives. Joining us for dinner, owner and operator Jerrmy Gawthrop, took time out to speak to members about the concept behind his restaurants and the driving force of locally sourced ingredients. A particularly moving moment for me was being able to share a meal with the people who both produced and prepared our ingredients and dishes while in the company of those who have done so much work on local and cooperative food systems. It is one of those times where I can literally see our food and cooperative movements strengthening, all over some goat cheese.


After a half day of meeting on Friday and lunch at our store, they listened to a presentation of the P6 program in our store and then got to tour Appleseeds Garden next door where Farm Manager Cale stayed in town to go over the non-profit’s operations and crops. The biggest take away for me was gaining the understanding that P6 is not just a marketing campaign, in the words of Eric from CROPP, P6 is a supply-chain program. It deals with how food actually moves around our country from farmer to store to consumer and farm to wholesale avenues and distribution. This is what coops are seeking to take on to make the food that we have worked over the past 40 years just to provide to our communities through retail stores. We are now working together as a group to move that food from farmer to you in a way that further benefits the communities who have made a co-op. Cooperatives address the unique needs of the communities they are in and we have learned a lot from each other. I’m excited to be in a store that does this for my community and for us now to be a part of this larger network that is constantly geared at strengthening each of its members. We are especially thankful to the entire board, staff, members, producers, and chefs who took the time to make this amazing event occur. Go co-op, go local, go P6!

Viroqua Food Co-op P6 Tailgate Party

By Bjorn Bergman, Viroqua Food Co-op Outreach Coordinator

Outside the tentEvery March, Viroqua Food Co-op celebrates spring and its amazing P6 farmers and producers by hosting an Annual Principle Six (P6) Tailgate Party. The event is exactly what the word ‘tailgate’ invokes: a big party in a parking lot that includes eating grilled food. Instead of cheering for a favorite sports team, attendees learn about and sample products from a variety of P6 producers (local, co-op, and small) that supply the VFC with amazing food and products. This party is VFC’s way to showcase our P6 program by putting the spotlight on a number of P6 producers that are at the heart of what we do best at our Co-op.


Origins of our Tailgate Party

For years, Viroqua Food Co-op hosted a CSA Open House at our store every March. While the event was a great way for owners and shoppers meet the farmers supplying our store with produce and learn about area CSA farms, it didn’t generate much increased foot traffic or increased sales for our store. We wanted to have a bigger event with more producer and community involvement and connection to our Co-op’s mission. In the Fall of 2011, Viroqua Food Co-op began integrating P6 into our store. We recognized the value of P6 as a vehicle to communicate with owners and customers more than just how food was produced (i.e. local, organic). P6 allows us to showcase the ‘who’ behind the products in our Co-op (i.e. co-op, non-profit organization, small), which we feel help us better achieve our mission.

Driftless brewing company


After labeling P6 products in our store, we were looking for a way to kick off our P6 program and introduce it in a meaningful way to our owners and shoppers. We wanted to have a party that focused on our P6 program and brought more people into our store. At this party, we wanted to invite between 10-15 P6 producers to sample their food and products. Our small 4400 square foot store couldn’t hold that many sampling producers while allowing people to shop. A store vendor brought up the idea of setting up a tent in our parking lot for the producers to sample in. With all of these ideas colliding, we decided to host a P6 themed event in a tent in our parking lot that took the place of our annual CSA Open House. The only question that remained was what we should call the event? Since Viroqua Food Co-op is located in the heart of Wisconsin, our culture is immersed in consuming lots of cheese and brats while cheering on our favorite sports teams, which lends itself to the state pastime of Tailgating (having a party with your friends in a parking lot). Why not have a P6 Tailgate Party that celebrates our P6 producers and brings together our community?

Simply Bee Natural

Nuts and Bolts
raffleWe aim to have our P6 Tailgate Party on either the third or fourth Saturday each March from 10am-2pm. Our hope is that that all the snow will be melted and it will be at least 40°F outside by this time in Southwestern Wisconsin. Additionally, this is typically a slower time for community events in our town, so we hope to get a better turn out. We rent a heated 40×20 foot tent with sidewalls from our local rental center. Inside the tent, we have tables for 12-16 P6 producers to sample and talk with customers. We make sure we invite P6 producers from every department of our store (including CSA Farms) so that attendees can experience the many different types of P6 farmers/producers that supply our Co-op. A full list of the producers at our 2015 P6 Tailgate Party can be found here. We also have a number of prize drawings that attendees can enter. In 2015, we had a P6 Prize Basket full of P6 products you can find in our store and A Year’s Worth of Free Organic Valley Milk, which was donated by Organic Valley. In true tailgating fashion, the VFC Deli grills out during the event. Their menu features a variety of P6 foods like Wisconsin Meadows burgers and Organic Prairie hot dogs, and brats and deli sides like potato salad and coleslaw.


A Beneficial Community Event

Our P6 Tailgate Party is always a successful event for our Co-op, our community, and, most importantly, our P6 producers. The event increases foot traffic and sales at our Co-op. In 2015, our P6 Tailgate Party brought in 15% higher sales for our store as compared to a typical Saturday in March. Additionally, products that were sampled at our 2015 P6 Tailgate Party saw a collective 378% increase in sales when compared to sales of those same products the Saturday prior to the event.

2015 VFC Tailgate

Our owners and customers seek to attend the event and connect more with what P6 after attending. We prominently advertise our P6 Tailgate Party in the community, including on the front cover of our newsletter, in the local newspapers, on the radio, and on social media. Many community members make a point to attend to connect with and try samples from our local, co-op, and small producers. The event leads to more people understanding the P6 message. When we had our first P6 Tailgate Party in March of 2012, many attendees were being introduced to P6 for the first time. After three years of putting on the event, increasing the presence of P6 messaging in our store, and always featuring P6 in our Newsletter, customers and owners are really beginning to connect to what P6 means. One owner recently told me that she really appreciates seeing P6 labels in the store because it allows her to support producers that are helping create a more just, cooperative, and local food system in our future.

seed savers exchange

Most importantly, the P6 Tailgate Party is a huge way to support our P6 producers, which are at the heart of our Co-op, working to create a more just and resilient local and cooperative food economy. Producers are extremely excited and thankful to get an opportunity to have a sampling and info table at the event. One of our 2015 P6 Producer attendees Tiffany Cade from Deep Rooted, our main tomato supplier commented, “It was so nice to meet some of the customers who buy our tomatoes at the co-op it was also so nice to hear so many great things about how people use them and are looking forward to them this year.” Now in our third year, prior to the event we get numerous requests from our P6 producers to sample at our Tailgate Party. We now aim to have a different set of P6 producers at the event each year so that new P6 Producers get an opportunity to attend the event each year.

Organic Valley

Now with our 3rd Annual P6 Tailgate Party on the books, I can honestly say that our P6 Tailgate Party is Viroqua Food Co-ops cornerstone event each year. Yes, this event could be put on with a ‘local’ theme, but I don’t think it would have the same impact. Having P6 be the main focus of our Tailgate helps us highlight more than local – it helps us recognize the importance of co-op, non-profits, and small producers in creating a more just and equitable food system. Since starting our P6 program, we are doing a much better job at telling the story of our work to create a more just and responsible food system.

outside the store

The Legacy of African Americans in Co-ops

Dr. Jessica Gordon Nembhard’s book Collective Courage was one of the most talked about books on cooperation last year. Dr. Gordon Nembhard broke new ground in both cooperative history and black history, drawing together dozens of sources and stories to paint a picture of the enduring history of black cooperation in the United States. LaDonna Redmond Sanders of Seward Co-op has a great post up expounding on some of the ideas in the book:

“Dr. Nembhard’s book is a continuation of the 1907 survey of African American cooperative efforts written by W.E.B. Du Bois. Du Bois discussed how African Americans used racial solidarity and economic cooperation in the face of discrimination and marginalization.

According to Dr. Nembhard, Du Bois differentiated cooperative economics from Black capitalism or buying Black. Du Bois focused on a “Black group economy” to insulate Blacks from continued segregation and marginalization. […]

Du Bois said that “we unwittingly stand at the crossroads—should we go the way of capitalism and try to become individually rich as capitalists, or should we go the way of cooperatives and economic cooperation where we and our whole community could be rich together?”

In this instance, Du Bois believed that economic cooperation could provide more than providers of goods or services, but also a philosophy or blueprint by which communities could be built or rebuilt.”

Read the whole article here, and if you’re in Minneapolis, make sure to sign up for LaDonna’s book group discussion of Collective Courage on Wednesday, 2/25.


P6 Launch at Fayetteville’s Midtown Music Launch



The good people at Ozark Natural Foods are excited! Why? Because they just launched their very own P6 program. They invited in their community to join them and learn about the program at the Midtown Music Festival, an annual neighborhood party in Fayetteville, AR. There was a photo booth, face painting, balloon twisting, and even a bounce house! Every dollar spent at the festival went to benefit Apple Seeds, a nonprofit dedicated to teaching children how to grow their own food.



One food truck handed out hot dogs for free, while the store provided tamales and black bean burgers. There was not only a raffle for gift cards to local businesses but also a dunk tank to sink local celebrities. The event got a ton of people to the store to come in and learn more about the P6 program. Congratulations on a great event!


P6 Month Wrap-up

August 2014 was a great P6 month! At a national level, we hosted our #p6coops twitter conversation. We were really excited to hear about the great things our member co-ops have accomplished. Here’s some accomplishments at some of our co-ops:

Seward Community Co-op: Seward hosted a kickoff on August 2nd. Staff sampled P6 products including Equal Exchange chocolate and tea, Maple Valley maple lemonade, Ferndale poultry, and Kickapoo Coffee. There was a raffle to win a P6 goodie basket at the front of the store. The store’s photographer happened to catch a picture of the winner, Nancy Reeck:



Seward set some high internal goals for raising P6 sales during P6 month. Regularly, P6 sales are around 37% of store sales. During P6 month, Seward set a goal of exceeding 45% P6 sales and actually hit 46.46%. Congrats, Seward! That’s a whole lot of money getting sent to small, local, and cooperative producers.

Viroqua Food Co-op: VFC hosted a P6 Square Dance and Grill Out on August 22nd. They served Wisco Pop! and food from a variety of P6 producers. Local musicians the Yellow-Bellied Sapsuckers played so everyone could dance:

Usually at VFC, there will be two or even three P6 producers offering samples in the store. During P6 month, 15 different P6 producers came into the store to sample their products and talk with customers.

Eastside Food Co-op: Eastside brought in folks from Kadejan on August 30. The Kadejan farmers talked about their new GMO-free chicken feed mill, which fills a gap in the market to allow people who want to grow GMO-free chickens to do so.



Bringing P6 to the Wellness Aisle

P6 month is successful because of the efforts of employees at P6 co-ops. This week we’re profiling Seward Co-op employee Jared Peterson, a buyer in the Wellness Department, who, along with his coworkers in the department, went above and beyond to make P6 month great in Wellness.


P6: What have you done this year to make P6 month visible and successful in the Wellness Department?

Jared Peterson: We started out by focusing on our local producers. We were in communication with those small and local companies to make sure they understand the P6 program and how their company fits into it. We see if the companies want to participate by offering a discount that we can pass on to consumers. There’s a lot we do in-store in terms of fliers, Sprout [the Seward Co-op newsletter], and putting up displays and endcaps to promote these products.

P6: How about wellness companies that are cooperative and support small farmers, but aren’t local? I’m thinking of Alaffia, in particular.

JP: We love working with Alaffia! They actually happened to have a discount going on for the first half of August through the National Co-op Grocers Association, which negotiates discounts for all the grocery co-ops nationally. I got in touch with the owner about extending their discount at Seward for the whole month, which they were happy to do. The owner is a great guy. He was just in town, actually, and did a training for about 75 or 100 people from Wellness Departments at stores all over the Twin Cities. He does this amazing Togolese lunch and tells us about the company and how they support small farmers across Africa.

P6: What are some successes you’ve had this year for P6 month?

JP: We’ve had a lot of participation from our vendors. There’s a lot of support among these small, local companies on having a whole month dedicated to P6. They are excited about coming in to do demonstrations. Right now, we have Robb from Four Elements demo-ing their products, which are not only locally produced but also locally grown. We get a lot of customer engagement with those demonstrations, and it’s exciting because the products are also on sale. It seems like we have fewer P6 products than other departments, particularly in supplements, so we really want to support and promote the ones we have.


P6: How is P6 month going this year?

JP: It’s going really well! Our sales of P6 products are already up 14% over P6 month last year. We have a department goal of reaching a 19% increase, and that’s really motivating.

P6: What do you think other stores should know about running a successful P6 month in Wellness?

JP: It’s so important to make sure the vendors understand the P6 program and how they fit into it. Bringing people in to demonstrate their products is crucial. We like to have a lot of literature available. We’re lucky that we have some brochure holders on our counter and people are always taking that information to learn more.

P6: What do you want customers to know about P6 month in Wellness?

JP: I want them to know that these smaller companies are out there. It’s easy to recognize some of the bigger brands that you can get at any co-op, and people tend to have a lot of brand loyalty around Wellness products — I think folks are more likely to try a new brand of pasta than a new shampoo. I encourage people to step outside their comfort zone and try something new.

After our conversation, I spoke with Robb Clasen of Four Elements Organic Herbals about his experience as a vendor working with Wellness during P6 month. He said, “P6 has allowed our local, hand-made, homegrown product to have more exposure. We’ve seen a dramatic increase in sales. There’s more presence for these local products. It allows the patrons to see how great our local products are.”