On October 17, Bonnie Hudspeth, former Project Manager at Monadnock Community Market Co-op, started her position as Membership & Outreach Coordinator with the Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA). Bonnie is thrilled to join the NFCA:
Our Co-op movement has a rich history of accomplishing extraordinary feats through collaboration, and what gets me so excited about this work is imagining what we can accomplish when our association’s 20+ Co-ops come together to create intentional, supportive, relationships with each other, and with other organizations who share our values and vision.
One focus area of the NFCA is regional food sourcing, and this association of co-ops recently launched a Farm to Freezer pilot program in partnership with Sunrise Orchards. Over the last year, NFCA member Co-ops identified a range of products that could be grown, processed and consumed closer to home, and decided to do a pilot study, partnering with local farmers, processers and distributors to get local frozen fruits and veggies onto our 20+ Co-op’s shelves.
The NFCA is working in collaboration with family farmers, farmer co-ops such as Deep Root Organic Co-op and the Pioneer Valley Growers Association, and processors including Farm to Table Co-Packers, the Vermont Food Venture Center and Green Mountain College’s Mobile Flash Freezer, to pilot products that are grown, processed and packaged right here in the Northeast. Now, you can find local frozen blueberries, green beans, sweet corn, and broccoli in the freezer aisle of your local Co-op!
Next year is a big year for Co-ops! Bonnie is working with Co-ops in the NFCA to prepare for the International Year of Cooperatives, 2012. Our region is home to a vibrant cooperative community that includes producer co-ops, food co-ops, credit unions, worker co-ops, energy co-ops, and artisan co-ops. Leading up to 2012, we have started the discussion on how we might use the opportunity presented by the UN International Year of Co-ops to make our co-ops known, advance the co-operative economy in our region, and to make the benefits of cooperation available to more people.
Bonnie will also be working on the Healthy Food Access Project, with the goals of:
- Increasing access to healthy, regionally-sourced food and food co-op member-ownership and participation among economically marginalized individuals and communities in New England
- Supporting information sharing among food co-ops regarding facilitation of participation of marginalized individuals and communities
- Raising the profile of food co-ops as a solution to the challenge of healthy food access in our region.
NFCA and the Cooperative Fund of New England will help expand the application of the co-op model to issues of access to healthy, affordable, regionally-sourced food, and will be working to put together case studies, a “tool kit”, and other materials for Co-ops to use to make their food more accessible to all.
Bonnie looks forward to working together to make our Monadnock Community Market Co-op a thriving community gathering place around quality, local, and healthy food, and to work on strengthening our Co-op’s connection to our neighboring co-ops, to continue to work together on a regional level to accomplish our vision.
The Neighboring Food Co-op Association is a network of more than 20 food co-ops (including the Monadnock Community Market Co-op and 7 other start-up co-ops) in VT, NH, MA and CT that are working together toward a shared vision of a thriving regional economy, rooted in a healthy, just and sustainable food system and collaboration among co-ops.