Category: Ozark Natural Foods

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.

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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:
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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.

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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.

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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!