Category: Ozark Natural Foods

P6 Producer: Roots In Bloom

This article about Roots in Bloom by Andrew of Ozark Natural Foods originally appeared on their website

roots in bloomOnce upon a time you could find Mee McGill sitting at the Owner Services Desk, smiling wide at everyone who walked through the door. Mee has since moved on to become the Assistant Wellness Manager, but you can still see her throughout the store with her signature smile and perpetual cheer.

In addition to her position at ONF, she and her husband own and operate Roots in Bloom Farm, a Certified Naturally Grown farm and homestead nestled in the Boston Mountains in West Fork, AR. Roots in Bloom is an off-grid, sustainable teaching farm dedicated to providing naturally grown food and wellness products to the community and world. Roots in Bloom is passionate about healthy values, nutritious food, sustainability, and helping others in need. They provide Certified Naturally Grown produce and herbs to ONF, in addition to local nurseries and through community-supported agriculture (CSA) programs. They also offer workshops, DIY kits, and other value-added products such as all-natural bug sprays, healing salves, and sunscreen. We sell many of Roots in Bloom’s products at ONF, and I can personally attest that their products work very well. I was duly impressed with her bug spray when I went for a hike one day back in mid-summer. RIB sunscreen is also recommended for protecting your sensitive skin against the sun’s harmful UV rays. We will also soon be carrying their Baby Bum Heal diaper rash cream, in addition to an all-natural ConChest rub to battle the nasty congestion one gets during cold and flu season. One of their most exciting products is their Sustainable Lifeline DIY Tincture Kits. If you’ve ever wanted to try your hand at making your own tinctures, then these are for you.

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In addition to her work at ONF and Roots in Bloom, Mee is also a doula, a medical assistant, CNA, and Master Herbalist. According to Mee, “I am a mother of two wonderful young women who I provided home education to for several years. Following this stage of my life, I felt it was time to expand my skills and offer assistance to the community who supported my choice to home school. I followed my dream and received my certification as a Master Herbalist. I was so interested in the things that I learned that I wanted to further my education in the medical field. I felt this would give me a better understanding of “conventional” medicine and the differences between that and “alternative” medicine. I received my nurse assistant certification and became a medical assistant as well. After spending some time figuring out where I wanted to aim my focus, I went back to work for the natural food co-op in my area and began the development of this farm. I have become more passionate about natural wellness and healthy food. It is my desire to share the knowledge and abilities I have gained with others. Currently, I offer doula and in-home care services, herbal consultations, workshops which teach about home herbalism, and working hard to develop Roots in Bloom to create a healthier future for my community.”

Roots in Bloom currently has a Crowdfund campaign to purchase a waterwheel that will be used to produce electricity. Any remaining funds will be allocated to improving the wellness aspect of their business. You can also find Roots in Bloom on social media, including Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter. Their website is www.rootsinbloom.weebly.com.

As you can see, Mee is a valuable asset to our food co-op and Fayetteville community, and we are so grateful to have her on our team!

 

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.

P6 Profile: War Eagle Mill

This post by Mariah from Ozark Natural Foods originally appeared on their website

War Eagle Mill is our local P6 mill located in Rogers and “organic, natural, and non-GMO” are their favorite words! “Our flour comes to you the War Eagle way – stone ground slowly to preserve all the nutrients and the deep, rich taste. Our farmers are committed to maintaining a natural, organic, and non-GMO environment for growing grain, and work hand-in-hand with us to shorten the time between the field, the milling process, and your table.  Since 1832 to today, we remain committed to you and your family’s health. You are our first priority.” Sounds like some good Arkansas family to me!

Let me start by giving a short history of this beautiful place. Sylvanus and Catherine got married at a young age and when they decided it was time to get a place of their own Sylvanus went out west from Tennessee in search of the perfect spot. He found this spot, a beautiful valley next to the War Eagle Creek in Arkansas. Through floods, the Civil War, and many other obstacles, this family has kept the mill going!

We carry a wide variety of their amazing products. In bulk you’ll find brown rice flour, rye flour, unbleached bread flour, wheat bran, and a few others. These are the perfect ingredients for your personal family recipes. In packaged grocery we carry their honey-nut bread mix, hot roll mix, biscuit mix (my personal favorite for a hardy serving of biscuits and gravy), and yellow cornbread mix. You won’t find a more lovely addition to your holiday meals!

War Eagle Mill reminds us of our roots; there’s an Arkansan ready for some homemade and homegrown soul-warming comfort breads in all of us. A mouthful I know, but that’s exactly what you’ll want when you try these rich, local products. I highly recommend that you look up the history of this mill; it’s truly interesting considering that it’s right down the road! This holiday season, fill your family and friends (literally) with the love from War Eagle Mill!

 

Producer Profile: Apple Seeds Teaching Farm

This post by Julie from the A La Carte Department at Ozark Natural Foods.

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When I started working at ONF nearly three years ago, there was a giant empty field next to the co-op. I remember thinking that it was odd that a huge lot was sitting empty in the middle of town. Then I learned that it was to become a teaching farm operated by Apple Seeds, a non-profit organization focused on the Farm to School movement. Here local school children can learn about gardening, cooking, and the healthy benefits of eating fresh vegetables. Having resided in Berkeley, CA, where Alice Waters began the first teaching garden in the United States, I was already familiar with the benefits of this educational format, not just for the children but for the community as a whole. I was thrilled that the concept was catching on right here in Northwest Arkansas.

With the support and hard work of local businesses, community members, school partners, and of course kids, they transformed that empty field into a thriving teaching farm. Now it is home to more than 5,000 square feet of gardens, an outdoor classroom, and a team that provides garden-based programs to students. Their farm programs, including Farm Lab and Farm to Table, are hands-on, fun, academically rich, and inspire young students to make healthy food choices.

Since 2014, they have grown more than 3,000 pounds of produce. The veggies have found their way to local school garden markets and their burgeoning Farm to School program, as well as their annual fundraisers and to Ozark Natural Foods, a long-standing partner and neighbor. Some of the produce that ONF sells from Apple Seeds are tomatoes, bok choy, herbs, peppers, cucumbers, and eggplant. Apple Seeds is passionate about their mission of inspiring healthy living through garden-based education. By building Apple Seeds Teaching Farm in the center of town, they can better serve the needs of our growing community.

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Now, when I take my breaks at work, I go outside and see teachers and children roaming the gardens, leading and learning. I can actually hear the excitement in their young voices as they volunteer for a task. I see the staff tending to the rows of plants, pulling weeds, and covering them when the weather turns. I’ve watched the garden beds transform from rows of soil into tall sunflowers, lush tomato plants, and other delightful veggies. I’m so grateful for this beautiful view, but even more so that Apple Seeds is providing the next generation with the knowledge and skills to grow and be healthy.

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“My Asian Pears Are Something Special and Here’s Why”

This post, by Guy King Ames, originally appeared on Ozark Natural Foods’ blog.

I’m Guy King Ames, owner of Ames Orchard & Nursery here in Northwest Arkansas. I’m also a horticulturist with ATTRA, the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service (www.attra.ncat.org ), a project of the National Center for Appropriate Technology, Fayetteville office. In the latter capacity, I write bulletins and give presentations on organic production of fruits for the whole country (go to the above-linked site to see these publications, webinars, etc.). The reason I mention this is that I have a pretty good handle on organic fruit production in the various parts of the United States.

If you’ve ever wondered why most of the organic apples and other tree fruits at ONF come from Washington, Oregon, and California, it’s really quite simple. The commercial fruit growers in those states, organic and otherwise, are growing fruit in what is essentially the irrigated desert. In that environment there are very few diseases, and if they are present, they occur with much less severity. Same for insect pests: fewer and less severe outbreaks. In such an environment, organic culture of fruit is relatively easy…relative to the eastern half of the U.S., where the higher humidity and rainfall fosters a plethora of diseases and pests.

Organic (or Certified Naturally Grown, as is my farm) fruit culture in the East is quite difficult. It’s even more difficult in the South where the higher heat favors fruit tree diseases like fire blight of pears and apples, black rot of grapes, summer rots of apples, brown rot of plums and peaches, and the list goes on. And there’s a similarly daunting list of insect pests.
So, you might think, why not just grow the tree fruits organically out in the West and truck them back East? Ah, go back and re-read your copy of Michael Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma (http://michaelpollan.com/books/the-omnivores-dilemma/)! The “food-miles” for such a system are insane and represent a huge cost to the environment, including a large contribution to global climate change. Moreover—and something I don’t remember Pollan spending much time on—the irrigation for the thousands upon thousands of acres of tree fruits in eastern Washington and elsewhere in the West comes from the many dams on the Snake, Columbia, and other important rivers. Important for whom? Salmon. It’s truly not a stretch to say that the ease of organic culture of tree fruits in the West comes at the cost of salmon habitat. It’s an ugly truth that most of us don’t want to face.

I’ve spent almost all of my adult life trying to grow fruit in an environmentally-sound way here in Northwest Arkansas. Nature has kicked my butt from Yellville to Fayetteville, but I’ve figured out a few things along the way. One of those is that I can grow certain pear varieties, including Asian pears, without any sprays whatsoever! I still suffer large losses to insects and diseases, but I can bring delicious Asian pears to Ozark Natural Foods with just a minimum of cosmetic imperfections—and I hope you’ll take those few dings and dimples as a sign that these are pesticide-free and yummy.

I really hope you will try some of these locally-grown pears. The small, yellow-gold ones are Shinkos (from Japan) and have a sprightly sweetness with a touch of citrus. The large, dark orange-bronze ones are Korean Giants and they are big sugar bombs! Both are crisp and refreshing. And they’re grown right here in your own neighborhood!

 

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!

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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.

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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!

Imagining Cooperative Supply Chains at the P6 Annual Meeting

P6 Group photo.jpg-largeLast week in Fayetteville, Arkansas, 20 representatives from our rapidly-growing ranks of P6 cooperatives met to discuss what the future of a cooperative supply chain will be. We were joined by the three new farmer co-ops that have joined P6 in 2015: Maple Valley, Organic Valley/Organic Prairie, and Farmer Direct. These farmers collaborated with folks from the 8 retail food co-op members of P6, including our two newest members, Menomonie Market Food Co-op and Roanoke Natural Foods, to get serious about what co-op to co-op to co-op trade will mean for our food system.

In addition to our co-op farmer members, we were able to talk with three farmers whose products get the P6 designation at Ozark Natural Foods, our host for the meeting. Farmers Mee, Tessa, and Genevieve told us how the P6 program has made a difference for their businesses. Genevieve and Pauline, the fresh manager at ONF, both told a story about how Genevieve was able to provide for her family without competing with other farmers in the area by asking Pauline what no one else was growing for the co-op. Genevieve’s farm then grew butternut squash, filling a niche the co-op hadn’t been able to supply before. Genevieve told us, “It was great to be a local farmer, but it’s been tremendous to be a P6 farmer and be a part of a national movement.”

Farmer Mee.jpg-largeMee is an employee at ONF as well as a P6 producer, so she has many different opportunities to interact with the program. Mee told her story, explaining how the P6 program gave her a clear venue to tell customers about the value of her wellness products. She said that she never got any interaction with her website until P6 launched, at which point she started hearing from people who wanted to know more about her business. Farmer Tessa runs the first cheese producing farm, and the only goat cheese producing farm, in Northwest Arkansas. She told us about how Ozark Natural Foods and the P6 program supported her farm through some difficult times, leading to growth in her business and sustained access to delicious local goat cheese for the region.

Jason presentation.jpg-largeOur facilitators led us in a conversation about how to support new co-ops in joining P6 and building cooperative supply chains. We heard presentations from Eric Newman of Organic Valley/Organic Prairie, who told us about the challenges and opportunities of being an 1,800 member organic farmer cooperative. Cecil Wright of Maple Valley shared his experience as a maple farmer and as the leader of an established, but smaller, multi-stakeholder cooperative of organic maple farmers and the people who support their efforts and buy their products. Finally Jason Freeman of Farmer Direct Co-op, an all-organic, all-domestic fair trade certified co-op in Canada that produces grains and beans and is just breaking into the American market with the help of P6.

We spent the rest of that day discussing how our cooperative trade LaDonna and Jan postits.jpg-largemovement can connect all the links in this chain. These conversations ranged from small ideas, like creating marketing packets for national farmer cooperatives that all our retail members can access, to huge ideas, like expanding cooperative distribution chains across the country, helping small farmers create co-ops, and expanding markets for small and cooperative farmers of color. We’re extremely excited to pick up these ideas and see where they take us next!

Our first board election took place in the days leading up to the Annual Meeting, and the results were announced at the meeting. This is the first time our leadership has been elected, following the great work of our founding Board. We’re taking the next steps in building a democratic organization! Our new board members are Loralyn Howard of Three Rivers Market, Bjorn Bergman of Viroqua Food Co-op, Cecil Wright of Maple Valley Co-op, Eric Newman of Organic Valley/Organic Prairie, Nick Seeberger of Seward Community Co-op, and Jeff Jewel of Bloomingfoods.

On Friday afternoon, the staff of Ozark Natural Foods took us on a tour of their store and told us aboSampling at ONF.jpg-largeut their P6 programming. As we walked in, staff members in P6 shirts offered us a new P6 kale salad with all P6 ingredients. We heard a presentation from Pauline, the ONF Fresh Manager, about the store’s efforts to bring the P6 program to life. Inspired by her experience working with Genevieve, Pauline developed a website for telling farmers about what fruits and vegetables are needed, so they can grow specifically for needs the co-op has. We heard about ONF’s P6 Tour de Farms, which is expanding this year to include producers, and to invite 500 community members, over the 250 who came last year. Thanks so much to Ozark Natural Foods to for hosting this event and helping all of us build the cooperative trade movement!

If you’d like to hear more about our Annual Meeting, check out our Twitter page, which has more detailed information and pictures.

Small Business Week Producer Profile: Local Greens At Ozark Natural Foods

This post by Ozark Natural Foods’ Leighanna was originally published on their website. P6 will be posting producer profiles every day this week in honor of Small Business Week.

Ozark Natural foods has some amazing local greens! It’s the perfect time for spinach, arugula, chard, green kale, and much more! Help support the local economy by using only the best local organic produce. Keep reading for specific sales and more info!

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Featured Recipe: Baked Parmesan Zucchini

4 zucchini, quartered lengthwise                                              ½ tsp dried basil

½ cup grated Parmesan                                                             ¼ tsp garlic powder

½ tsp dried thyme                                                                       2 tbsp parsley

½ tsp dried oregano                                                                    2 tbsp olive oil

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste                                      salt, to taste

– Combine Parmesan and seasonings

– Drizzle zucchini with olive oil and toss with herb and cheese mixture. Bake on nonstick coated cooling rack in preheated oven for 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Broil an additional 2 minutes until crispy.

Adapted from: damndelicious.net

Local Spring Greens

Hi everyone! Right now we are enjoying a flush of delicious, sweet, baby spring greens from several of our local farms. We have spinach, arugula, chard, green kale, and some intermittent spring mix. These produce items are coming to us from Dripping Springs Garden, Ozark Alternatives, Foundation Farm, Funny Farm, and Sycamore Bend Farm. Since these items are local the appearance of these products may be different then what you are used to seeing out of local season and from out of state. For example: we have two different sets of baby spring mix that we have been receiving and both have completely different varieties mixed in and were harvested at different stages of growth. These items are also being brought to you a little differently. The biggest difference is the packaged salads.

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Typically in our produce department you are used to seeing the 5oz or 1lb Taylor & Organic Girl Salads. These mixes are delivered in clamshell containers while the majority of our local produce is not. To help keep things the same though and enable our local farmers to bring you the local baby greens mixed, washed and dried, they are brought in clear bags with equivalent weights. We have 5oz bags of spinach and kale, along with ½ bags of spring mix and kale. Despite the packaging differences, we wanted you to know that you are getting the same type of product—just much fresher!

And if you are looking at some other fresh produce to compliment the local greens selection we now have fresh, local cilantro, parsley, shitake mushrooms, green onions, and chard! Thanks also to Sweden Creek Farm, Rocky Comfort Natural Farm, and Marty’s Produce!

 

P6 Update from Ozark Natural Foods

We are very excited to bring you this blog post from our newest retail member, Ozark Natural Foods. This post is by Gary Rettberg, the Communications Coordinator at ONF.

Moore Produce peppersWe started our P6 program back in August 2014 here at Ozark Natural Foods, and we haven’t looked back! P6 has been a great tool for informing our Owners and engaging with these small, local, and/or cooperative businesses. We currently have about 1,140 P6 products in the store and several P6 vendors. Many of these vendors are local to our store. This allows us to cultivate relationships with the actual producers, which in turn helps us to understand exactly where our food and goods are coming from. It’s about having a deeper connection to the products you purchase. We have found that often products will be labeled as “organic” or “all natural” but may not have the best sustainable practices or quality ingredients that the label suggests. Having the P6 program helps to ensure our producers are honest with their products and keeps our standards of quality high.

As some of you might know, our Co-op will be facing some tough competition in our area. In mid-March Natural Grocers opened a store on our street a few miles down the road. In addition, Whole Foods will be opening a store in September even closer to us. We expect some loss in sales, but believe we can strongly weather the storm. This competition gives us a chance to get back to our roots. The foundations of the entire cooperative movement in essence are these small, local, and/or cooperative P6 producers. While our competition may carry some local or cooperative based products, our focus will be on helping to develop our local food system. We won’t just be another store for these producers to sell in. We will engage them and the local community. We will aid them in creating an independent, sustainable, fully functioning local food system. This may seem like a huge endeavor to undertake, but this is our commitment. It is an important and worthwhile one as global and national food systems become increasingly unreliable and even at times dangerous. Local food systems are the future and your Co-op is on the forefront of something very exciting.

chick saleWe have had the pleasure of getting to work with absolutely amazing local farmers and producers. Recently, P6 producer Villines Family Farm worked with us to orchestrate our 2nd annual Baby Chick Sale. Genevieve and her family brought us 300 baby chicks! Through our owner’s we were able find every single one a happy forever home. Working together with Villines Family Farm helped us to innovate and try new ideas. They helped us to push ourselves as a coop and I’m sure we helped push their production! Collaboration with these P6 producers is a fundamental necessity for the success of the P6 program.

Chicken and babies from Villines Farm in Arkansas. Picture from Ozark Natural Foods.

Like with any big project this process has not been without challenges. We know that it will take time to familiarize our guests and owners with the P6 signs in the store. Most people are used to regular industry buzz words like, “organic”, “natural”, “local”, and “sustainability”. These labels can be vague and can be very unclear when it comes to the actual ingredients of a product. The great thing about the P6 program is that it is a clearly defined label. P6 uses 3 criteria: small, local, co-op to help customers think through where their dollar goes when they purchase a product. A product receives the P6 label when it meets at least two of the three criteria. We have educated our staff about P6 and they in turn educate our customers. At its core, the P6 program is really all about education and telling the stories of the amazing P6 producers in our store.

Producers at Ozark Natural Foods Shindig 1P6 producers at Ozark Natural Foods Shindig 2

As a Co-op it is our responsibility to be the liaison between consumers and producers. P6 is about supporting small producers both locally and internationally. It’s important to think where your coffee is coming from, and where your carrots are coming from! Locally, we facilitate this relationship by educating and also holding events in which our P6 producers are able to come and engage with consumers. April 11th & 12th was our last Owner Appreciation Weekend, and during this weekend we had our first ever P6 Shindig! This “Shindig” included a meet and greet of 12 of our local P6 producers. We want the consumer to know their producer and know where their food is coming from. A lot of Co-ops around the nation have been doing P6 events and it has been very encouraging to see all the great results. This fall during our Annual Owner’s Meeting will have a very similar set-up as the P6 Shindig inside the store. Educating our owners and guests is a vital part of perpetuating a sustainable local food system. So let’s engage our community of Northwest Arkansas and get to work!

P6 Producer: White River Creamery

A version of this post by Pauline Arnold first appeared at Ozark Natural Foods’s website.

From Elkins, Arkansas, White River Creamery brings amazing artisan cheese to Ozark Natural Foods. Pauline, Fresh Manager, shares some flavor profiles and what they’ve got in stock. Here’s what she has to say:
White-River-Creamery

P6 Producer of the Month: White River Creamery!

Most Ozark Natural Food customers probably know about our stellar P6 goat cheese producer White River Creamery from Elkins, AR from their products in our store, at the Fayetteville Farmers Market, and from other markets in the Northwest Arkansas area. Their family-run diary and creamery raises over 90 registered Nigerian Dwarf goats on just 12 acres of pasture. Their farm is beautifully and logically set up just 20 minutes from town. I’ve been raising dairy goats and making some cheese here and there for 8 years and remember when White River invited us out several years ago to see their operation. I was so excited that a full time dairy goat farm was up and running with their business. Even more exciting is the variety of cheese they make with all the knowledge from Scott’s training at Vermont’s Institute of Artisan Cheese.

white river cheese

Here’s just a taste of what they’ve got in stock:
Fromage Blanc: In French, literally White Cheese. This is a soft, creamy cheese that has less fat than that of cream cheese. It has a lighter flavor when plain, similar to yogurt, and can be used in place of yogurts or in desert dishes. White River also offers a Garlic and Chives Fromage Blanc for a savory twist!

Farmer’s Cheese: A pressed cottage cheese that is sturdy enough to slice. Growing up with cottage cheese, this variety has always been a favorite of mine. It’s lightly sour and salty and goes well on bread, crackers, or wrapped with meat. We also have a plain variety and a Port with Altus wine!

Feta: A classic brine cured goat’s milk cheese! Great in Italian & Greek dishes, salads, pizza topping, you name it you cannot go wrong with feta. We are so happy to have a plain and Greek Marinated goat’s milk cheese in our store!

Camembert: A newer addition to their offerings and named Aux Arc, this is an aged cow’s milk double cream cheese, soft-ripened with a bloomy rind. I prefer these single portioned cheeses with a granny smith apple.

white river goat

All of White River’s cheese milks are free of antibiotics and hormones. Their final cheese products boast the Arkansas Grown and Arkansas Made labels. The above are cheeses that we currently have in stock as their Chevre for example is on hold while the goat’s kid. White River also makes Neufchatel, Ricotta, Chevre, and Raw Aged Goat Cheese. Are you curious about their goats or cheese making process? Then sign up this coming September to participate in our Second Annual P6 Tour de Farm! We’re assembling the routes right now for over 20 local P6 farms, breweries, and coffee roasters and White River Creamery will be one of the stops! Finally, we’d like to wish them an early happy anniversary, this May 2nd! White River will have been open for 2 years!