Opening Up a World of Opportunities for Local Farmers

Bruce Bickford, in the recent “Sharing the Green” article, stated, “If the Monadnock Community Market succeeds in establishing a stable market for locally grown food, it could open up a world of opportunities for local farmers.”

That is exactly the vision that motivates me to volunteer for the Monadnock Community Market Co-op. I want to help build that stable market — and more than 680 individuals from throughout the Monadnock Region are investing their time, talents and treasures to do the same.

We are not just building a grocery store, but building community and cooperation. “Co-ops weave a community web,” says Terry Appleby, manager of the 75-year old Hanover Consumer Cooperative Society. “We serve as a center of activity and education around food.”

Especially local food.

Do our local farmers need more opportunities and support to grow their business? Absolutely. The annual net cash income from a New Hampshire Farm is $6,414 and only 10 percent of the household income on a farm comes from the farm. Our farmers need more solutions to create a viable farm business and an area food cooperative can provide crucial support.

Ken Meter, a food system analyst, said “Food co-ops play a pivotal role in nearly every local foods initiative I work with; they have been doing so for 40 years.”

La Montañita Co-op in New Mexico exemplifies one of many food co-ops at the center of a local food movement. Finding distribution a major hurdle for farmers, the La Montañita’s Co-op Distribution Center was formed.

Trucks pick up food from more than 700 regional producers and deliver local food to more than 30 stores, restaurants and institutions.

Finding business financing another major hurdle for farmers, La Montañita Fund was formed. The fund invests in local farms by providing loans that banks do not provide.

In New England, the Monadnock Community Market Co-op has already joined forces with the Neighboring Food Co-op Association – a network of more than 20 co-ops working to create a thriving regional economy, rooted in a healthy, just and sustainable food system and collaboration among co-ops.

Together, we are measuring our economic and social impact, conducting education, outreach and sourcing activities that benefit our members, and partnering with like-minded organizations to advance our shared goals.

We ask you to join us in bringing our vision for a strong local food system to the Monadnock Region.

Please visit http://www.monadnockcommunitymarket.org for more information.

Sincerely,

Jen Risley

Keene, NH

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