Category: P6 Annual Meeting

P6 Hosts Successful 2016 Annual Meeting

P6 Annual Meeting 1What happens when 25 cooperators from 12 co-ops meet? A bold vision for the future of the cooperative trade movement, we discovered at the 2016 P6 Annual Meeting.

The P6 team was excited to host the Annual Meeting in the P6 home base of Minneapolis, welcoming peers from near and far. The newest P6 members, Moscow Food Co-op of Moscow, ID, and The Good Earth Food Co-op of St. Cloud, MN, joined for the first time. The meeting took place on May 19th and 20th.

The conference began with tours of the new Seward Co-op Friendship Store and of the newly remodeled Eastside Food Co-op. Attendees had tons of questions about the tools these P6 experts use to promote small, local, and cooperative products.

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After the store tours, we held a celebratory dinner at the Seward Co-op Creamery Cafe. In addition to recognizing all the great work P6 members have done this year, the dinner served as an opportunity to welcome non-P6 member co-op representatives interested to learn more about P6. The Creamery Cafe staff did a great job highlighting P6 producers, with special focus on our P6 wholesale members.

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On Friday, with the help of expert facilitators from Growthworks, Inc., we put our heads together to plan for the growth of the P6 movement. This packed day of activities allowed members to brainstorm for improvements at their own co-ops and share best practices. Additionally, we collected perspectives about the best way the P6 national team can meet collective goals.

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Many thanks to the P6 producers who donated product to help make a successful meeting: Maple Valley Co-op, Farmer Direct Co-op, Organic Valley, WiscoPop!, Peace Coffee, Seafood Producers Co-op, and Equal Exchange. Thank you for supporting the movement!

The Only Food Co-op In Tennessee: P6 Reflections from Three Rivers Market

This post is by Loralyn Milcarek, the Merchandising Manager at Three Rivers Market. Loralyn is a new board member for P6.

Bikes parked outside of Three Rivers Market during their launch partyWhen Three Rivers Market first heard about Principle Six, we knew we wanted to participate in the movement.  At the time, we were in the middle of an expansion project, so we waited until we were truly ready to take it on.  We were moving from the old Victorian house that the co-op had operated out of for 30 years, and moving into a new, repurposed building with three times the space of our old location.

Co-op families enjoying the evening.

In August 2013, after we had settled in to our new larger store, we were ready to launch the Principle Six Cooperative Trade Movement in our store.  We kicked it all off by throwing a party at the store for our local community.  We invited local mobile food vendors to set up their food trucks and carts outside of our store, and set up a big tent with family-style tables decorated with locally-grown flowers. It was a festive afternoon, and hundreds gathered with their friends, neighbors, and kinfolk to eat great food and celebrate these locally-owned small businesses.  Inside the store, whether they stepped in to buy some groceries or just take a break from the Knoxville summer heat, co-op members and customers were greeted by new signs and banners that had popped up overnight, emphasizing the values of “small, local, co-op.”  Co-op members received 10% off of their purchases of P6 products all day.  With the launch of the P6 program, our customers were given an easy way to ensure that their purchases were supporting small, local, and/or cooperative farmers and producers, much like buying their dinner directly from the food truck owners outside.

TRM P6 and Local SlippiesPrior to the launch of P6, our co-op had labeled local products on the shelf, and customers sought out these products, to support small, local businesses through their purchases.  P6 added another layer to these values, by helping customers make purchases that will support small, independent farmers and producers on a national and global scale as well.

To us, the 3 criteria of small, local, and co-op refocused our attention on the values we had always held, and make it simpler to highlight these values for our customers.  When we talk about local businesses, we mean small, locally-owned independent businesses.  We’ve always had this degree of smallness included in our local definition.  When we joined P6, all of our local products became P6 products, and they were joined by hundreds of other products, grown or made by small, cooperative farmers and producers.  P6 took our local program to the next level, and helped us educate our customers on how their purchases support small, independent businesses outside of our local community.  

3. TRM Small Local Coop BannersThe cooperative focus of P6 is especially valuable to us, as Three Rivers Market has long been the only food co-op in the great state of Tennessee.  The presence of P6 in our store allows us to always be in conversation about cooperatives, through our store signs and through our website.  It is encouraging to know that, although we have far fewer co-ops in our area than our Midwestern co-op friends, we can still participate in this cooperative trade movement.

Loralyn and Luna.jpg-largeLast month, I attended the P6 Annual Meeting, hosted by Ozark Natural Foods in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  I’ve been connected to the P6 network of co-ops for two years, but this was the first time I was able to meet with all of them in person.  We spent two days in conversations about the cooperative supply chain, expanding distribution of P6 products, supporting P6 producers in our own communities, and telling the P6 story within our stores.  I was encouraged and inspired by the work done by the co-op stores in the Midwest, and Farmer Direct Co-op in Canada.  The Midwest P6 stores were able to connect Farmer Direct Co-op with a regional distributor, to get cooperatively-grown grains and legumes into the bulk bins of cooperatively-owned food stores.

P6 welcomed new member co-ops this year, including Roanoke Natural Foods in Roanoke, Virginia.  I am happy to see that the movement is growing, and to welcome a fellow Southeast co-op to P6.  I look forward to the continued growth of the cooperative trade movement, and I hope that we can join together with other co-ops in our region to create more co-op to co-op connections.

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.