Category: Seward Community Co-op

P6 Producer: Lone Grazer Creamery

This post draws on posts from Seward Community Co-op and Eastside Food Co-op.

lone-grazer-purpleThe Lone Grazer Creamery is a new cheese producer in Minneapolis. They’re based in the Northeast neighborhood of Minneapolis. They’ll be selling their cheese curds at Seward Community Co-op and Eastside Food Co-op, our two Minneapolis based P6 member stores.

“We got them in on February 27. That was the first delivery,” said Scott Heard, Seward Cheese Department Manager, “and we’re very excited to have them in the store.”

Located in Northeast Minneapolis, just a 6 minute delivery drive from Eastside C0-op and twice that far from Seward Co-op, the Lone Grazer is currently one of the few urban creameries in the United States and one of the nearest P6 food vendors for both stores.

“People in the city want to know the farmer,” says Clark Anderson, one of The Lone Grazers’ grass-fed milk producers, “and the farmer should know the people in the city.”

Anderson’s milk is turned into delicious cheese by Rueben Nilsson who learned the art at the Caves of Faribault in Faribault, Minn., one of the finest cheesemakers in the country.

Cheesemaking at Lone Grazer“Cheesemaking is a creative endeavor that blends art and science and physical labor with technical knowledge,” Nilsson says. “I love making cheese.”

Right now, The Lone Grazer is producing one kind of cheese, curds. “These have a nice salty bite,” Scott Heard says of The Lone Grazer’s cheese. “They make you want to eat a whole lot more cheese curds.” Several months down the road, The Lone Grazer will produce string cheese, ricotta and aged cheeses as well. Both stores will carry the additional cheeses as they become available. According to Eastside Co-op, deliveries to that store will be on Friday, if you want to come in for the squeakiest curd possible.

“Putting a delicious piece of cheese on a crusty bread or cracker is one of the simple joys in life,” says Lone Grazer founder Kieran Folliard. “I’m drawn to the making of cheeses from fresh, pure milk.”

One of Folliard’s other endeavors is 2 Gingers (local Irish whiskey) which is located in the same building as The Lone Grazer. Mike Phillips’ Red Table Meat Co., which brings such great salumi to Seward’s Meat Department, is also located in that building and soon, Chow Girls Catering will be housed there too.

For such a young company, The Lone Grazer finds itself at the center of a superb local food-hub. They can count on support from the P6 co-ops as they grow!

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.

 

Locally Laid and the importance of mid-range agriculture

We loved this post from Locally Laid Eggs to a customer who was offended by the name of their company. The full blog post covers a lot of topics, but this passage about the importance of mid-range agriculture to rural communities really resonated with us at P6:

But we’re more than just free chickens, fed well. We’re champions of something called Middle Agriculture. This is the most stressed, least understood agricultural segment in America. Mid-sized farms, like awkward teens, don’t fit in anywhere. They tend to be too large to sell all they produce directly to the public (think farmer’s market or CSA) and way too small to romp with the big dogs of commodity markets.

As such, there are less of us mid-level producers every day. Between 1997- 2012 the number of these types of operations have declined by 18%. That’s over 130,000 farms that have been shut, barn doors closed, tumbleweeds cued.

You might ask why this matters. Well for a lot of reasons, but especially for the 46-million Americans who live rurally. And I mean right now, not in some sepia-toned, yesteryear memory. When mid-sized operations go away, it doesn’t just affect one family, it dings ALL the regional ag-based industry: grain mills, feed stores, processing facilities and farm jobs. So there’s just a lot less money floating around a community. This erodes tax bases, which affects schools, roads and livability issues. As the Agriculture of the Middle Project puts it, the loss of mid-sized farms “threatens to hollow out many regions of rural America.”

VCS_smallThis is the difference between the “value chain” of mid-sized businesses working together versus “vertical integration” where all the links of the supply chain are owned by the same company, concentrating profits and power at the top.

So, here’s how we’re growing the Middle Ag sector. Locally Laid now partners with other mid-level farmers to produce eggs to our brand standards. Because we take on all the financial risk to find shelf space for these eggs, our farmers are able to do what they do best while fetching a fair price for their goods.

There’s been some real upsides to this in the small community of Henriette, Minnesota. There our partner farmers have commissioned tons of corn from their neighbors, buy implements from a nearby farm store and use a local mill to grind and store their grains. And because Locally Laid eggs are only sold regionally, all that retail income sticks around, too, all the while stamping down food miles. I can honestly say this community now enjoys a higher quality of living thanks to a public willing to pay more for a different kind of egg.

Definitely check out the full post for impassioned defenses of sustainable farming practices and sassy marketing, as well. Locally Laid eggs are available at Seward Co-op, Eastside Co-op, and Bloomingfoods.

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:

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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.

 

 

The Perennial Plate at LTD Farm

As we gear up for Perennial Plate’s video about P6, we’re highlighting some older Perennial Plate videos about P6 producers. Here’s one about LTD Farm. LTD poultry, eggs, and vegetables are available and labeled P6 at Eastside Food Co-op and Seward Community Co-op (where the farmers used to work!). This video shows (slightly graphic) video of the Thanksgiving turkey slaughter. The LTD farmers invite their customers to come be a part of slaughtering and preparing the birds, to allow them to be involved and to bear witness to the process of taking life in order to provide meat. LTD Farm is also featured in the upcoming P6 video from Perennial Plate!

The Perennial Plate Episode 36: Giving Thanks (to turkeys) from The Perennial Plate on Vimeo.