More than a year ago, we became one of seven co-op groups across the nation awarded a Rural Seed Grant from Food Co-op Initiative, a non-profit organization that encourages and supports the development of new food co-ops.
Our request for grant funds focused on a need for someone to help boost our ownership numbers and increase the co-op’s public visibility. Our group (and the other six) were selected, according to FCI, on the strength of leadership, quality of business planning, potential for success and potential impact.
Our search for someone to help, which included numerous interviews with candidates and consultation with others, eventually led us to Robin Devereaux-Nelson, who served for most of this year as the co-op’s part-time outreach coordinator. The grant funds that helped cover Robin’s expenses now are exhausted, however, so her work with us has ended.
The Rural Seed Grants, as their name suggests, are intended for smaller cities and towns — such as Bay City — that have often been left behind by corporate supermarkets. FCI’s support and encouragement illustrates both the need that food co-ops can fill in places like ours and the reality that food co-ops can succeed not just in populous metropolitan areas.
We opened 2018 with 109 owners. And as the year nears its end, we’re just a handful from greeting owner #200.
That growth made in one year, with Robin’s help, shows great progress. But we have more work to reach our ultimate goal of opening a store. Our immediate goal is to hit that mark of owner #200, when we plan to provide owners with yard signs as yet another way to show that we’re here.
It’s also a good time for owners to give the co-op another boost. If you need a holiday gift for that person who has everything, consider giving an ownership share in the co-op (as always, by going to baycityfood.org/join-us/). If you can host a house party, a board member or volunteer can explain what a co-op will provide. If you can talk up the co-op to friends and neighbors, please do.
We look ahead to continued growth in the new year! We will celebrate Robin’s specific achievements with owners at our annual meeting and potluck, which is being planned for April 2019.
Thank you, Robin!
(If you would like to thank Robin for her help, you can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org)