As some of you may have heard, I will soon be handing off my positions here at the co-op to other folks as I begin a new and exciting chapter of my life down in New Orleans. Although I’m incredibly excited for this opportunity, my decision to leave the Keene community and our wonderful co-op was incredibly tough. I mulled it over far longer than a person probably should, but my experiences with co-op staff, member-owners and shoppers have been incredible and one-of-a-kind. I have shared countless laughs, hugs and stories on our store floor with new and old friends during my time here and I will hold those memories close as I embark on my next journey.
I thought it would be fun to look back on some of what we have accomplished together since the Sustainability Coordinator position was created nearly two years ago:
Our incredible progress with waste diversion! The stinkiest yet most satisfying part of my job. In FY 2015 we diverted 32% of our waste from the landfill. In FY 2016 we diverted 60% (yes, sixty percent)! Think about that for a moment – we nearly halved the amount of materials sent to be incinerated, by composting, recycling or reusing them instead. This was an incredible store-wide effort – from staff to shoppers – that made this happen!
Our Community Supported Solar Project! We launched the first Community Supported Solar (CSS) project in the region which is now cranking out clean energy for us. As of this writing, it has generated 55,733 kwh of clean energy and serves as a model for what we hope are many more CSS projects in the region.
Our Co-op Green team! We created the co-op’s Green Team which has supported many projects around the store, from those insulated reusable MFC mugs you love to get your coffee or smoothie in each morning, to helping set sustainability priorities, to brainstorming ways to make the store more and more sustainable. They are a conduit for ideas and communication and have been crucial to the success of the sustainability programs at the co-op.
Our Farm Fund! We began the Monadnock Food Co-op Farm Fund in partnership with the Cheshire County Conservation District which distributed nearly $10,000 in grant funding to local farmers this year to improve on-farm infrastructure. These grants directly support increasing the amount of local food available in our region. Manning Hill Farm is already able to deliver and distribute more milk each week to our community because of increased refrigeration capacity.
Our Community Events! We increased the range of community events we host including educational workshops, local food BBQ’s (if we can finally get a sunny Friday, our next one is on August 4th), farm tours (check out the upcoming tours at Alyson’s Orchard in August and Angel Wing Farm in September), our Ice Cream Social Fundraiser, Truckload Sales, Seafood Fest, CSA Fairs – and more – all culminating in the largest Earth Day Festival I can remember!
In the larger community, we became stronger advocates and partners, serving on the City’s Agricultural Commission, the Cities for Climate Protection Committee, the NH Food Alliance’s Viability Working Group, signing onto the “We are still in” pledge, going to DC to lobby for clean energy and climate action, participating in the People’s Food Summit — and again, the list just goes on and on.
There’s no doubt the Monadnock Food Co-op has reached an incredible amount of success in a very short period of time due to the immense support of our community. So many people have played a part in this success, and will continue to do so, as we move from being a start-up food co-op to a “toddler” food co-op, looking at potential growth and expansion. It has truly been an honor to be a part of the co-op’s story. I feel incredibly privileged and eternally grateful to have been able to meet so many of you and be a part of this community. I’ll be carrying all the love the co-op community has given me down to New Orleans, and, I’ll be watching to see what incredible successes the co-op has in the future!
So, keep calm and sustain on, and don’t forget to sort your waste properly – with your help, next year we’ll be up to 75% waste diversion!