Friday, February 27, 2009

Keep up!

Want to know what your hardworking Board members are up to? We publish all our minutes online and list our meeting dates.

Check it out at

Annual Board Meeting

This is just a reminder that the West Michigan Co-op Annual Board Meeting is next week Tuesday March 3rd, 6:30pm at Media Rare, 1111 Godfrey SW.

Everyone is invited to attend. Voting members will be voting in 3 new board members as well as one alternate. All Board nominee profiles can be viewed below! Check them out!

Hope to see you on Tuesday!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Amy Neis -- Board Nominee

So, who would have thought writing a biography for the co-op would turn into such an exercise?

My first attempt came across sounding more like my college resume and although interesting in it’s own right, didn’t seem to pinpoint the information you might be looking for to let you know my qualifications for the board.

My second try was very up-lifting, I used words like “yes we can” and “a change we can believe in”, but it seemed like I had heard it before and worried you might feel that way too.

So, on my third attempt I decided the best thing would just be to tell you why..… why I feel strongly about the co-op and why that in turn would make me interested for a seat on the board.

My experience with the co-op goes back to the initial sign-up date at the Wealthy Theatre. As a family, the summer farmer’s market was already a big part of our life, so the thought of getting our food local and year round was very exciting.

After a couple of order cycles, I knew the co-op was not only something I believed in, but something I wanted to become more involved in. I wanted to help make it grow and make it better. So, as a family, we started volunteering on producer drop-off and membership pick-up times.

Soon committees formed, and again, I was interested to see where I could contribute. I signed onto the membership committee, which was/is a great experience, as it has opened up new ways to take part and contribute to the whole operation.

As I bring this to a close, I realize I have no ending for my co-op biography, because either on the board or off the board, I plan to keep adding to it. The next paragraph will be up to the voting members. I’ll look forward to seeing what I get to write next.

Amy Neis

Lisa Nelson -- Board Nominee

Hello, West Michigan Co-Op Members:

My name is Lisa Nelson and I am asking for your vote to represent you on the West Michigan Co-Op Board on March 3, 2009. Currently I am a volunteer at most Co-Op Pick-up nights and attend Board meetings regularly. I am a committee member on the following 4 Co-Op committees: Vision, Producer, Web and Public Relations Committees. I also maintain the Co-Op License Book and have attended several Farm Tours and Co-Op Events. I have been a member since the original Wealthy Theater kick-off of the West Michigan Co-Op.

I am very passionate about the West Michigan Co-Op! As the granddaughter of a Michigan Farmer, I know how important it is to have a close relationship with the land and how important it is for us to live in a society valuing, protecting and respecting our farmland, ecosystem and the green organic value of our environment. I also believe in the Co-Op benefit of promoting a natural, healthy food distribution while supporting the sustainability of our local communities. This includes partnering with other efforts like Local First, Farms without Harm and Slow Food.

Your membership in the Co-Op is important to you. As a board member, I promise to listen to all your input and ideas and represent you with integrity. I am particularly interested in opportunities to promote education, expand our online community dialogs and grow our Co-Op to support the underserved members of our community. More opportunities for producers to promote their products and more product availability on our ever-evolving website would help to grow our Co-Op and benefit our current and new members.

If elected, I promise to work hard to represent you. I believe the strength of the Co-Op is its members. Whether you are a member, producer or volunteer; I ask for your vote on March 3, 2009 at the annual board meeting. Together we can make the West Michigan Co-Op continue its Amazing growth in 2009!

Lisa M. Nelson, ACS, CL

Aquinas College, BA Business, Art Major
GRCC, Associates Degree Data Processing
Blue Heron Academy Massage Therapy Graduate
Blue Heron Academy Herbalist Certificate
Former Chicago DAMA Information Exchange Coordinator
Former West Mich. PMI VP Membership
2009 District 62 Winners Circle Editor
2009 West Michigan Advanced Club VP PR/Webmaster
2009 Foremost Club 7311, President

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Kris Van Haitsma - Board Nominee

Kris Van Haitsma
Hydroponic Lettuce Grower
Mud Lake Farm, LLC

Kris grew up in Tampa, FL and attended Calvin College in Grand Rapids, graduating with a BS in Biology. She worked for about 18 years as an Organic Chemist for a local environmental testing laboratory. After attempting to balance both farming and working part-time for about a year and a half, she left the lab to pursue her interests in farming full-time. She is married to Steve, and they have three children, ages 13 to 17.

Kris is the owner of Mud Lake Farm, a small hydroponic farm that focuses on growing a variety of lettuces, herbs, and greens hydroponically, as well as other vegetables and herbs grown "organically". While the farm is not certified organic, the Van Haitsmas do endeavor to follow organic principles. No pesticides or herbicides are used, but they utilize beneficial insects and scouting to manage pests. They also attempt to grow products that are relatively uncommon, and those that can be grown using more permanent plantings (i.e., arctic kiwis, hazelnuts, elderberries, & paw paws). While all of these plantings are still in their infancy, hopefully they will yield some tasty, unique products in the future. The Van Haitsmas raise various animals, and seek ways to integrate all aspects of their farm to minimize inputs, purchasing as many inputs as possible from local sources.

Kris has been involved in the West Michigan Co-op since it's inception, and has participated in almost every order cycle so far, as both producer and customer. She looks forward to becoming even more involved in the vision and operation of the Co-op by serving on the board.

Christina Radisauskas - Board Nominee

Christina Radisauskas is a librarian at Aquinas College, where she is also the chair of the faculty Sustainability Committee.

Since she heard about it in the summer of 2007, she's volunteered her time at the Co-Op in several capacities: Chair and member of the public relations and membership committees, volunteer supervisor on pick-up and drop-off nights, and Co-Op brochure/information pusher at many community events.

She likes to make pies when fruit is in season, has a cat named Obo, and has a super sweet bicycle that you might see her riding around town as soon as the snow is gone.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Upcoming Board Meetings.

The West Michigan Co-op board will be meeting Tuesday, February 10th, at 6:30pm to prepare for our annual meeting on Tuesday, March 3rd, at 6:30pm.

Both meetings will be held at Media Rare, 1111 Godfrey SW, and everyone is encouraged to attend.

Hope to see you there!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Why I Love the Co-Op

Yesterday (Saturday) morning, I went grocery shopping. Did I battle the throngs of people at the local grocery store who also do their weekly grocery shopping on Saturday mornings? No, I did not.

Rather, I sat at home, in front of the computer, wearing my pajamas, and eating a bowl of cereal while grocery shopping.

A year ago, my husband and I joined West Michigan Co-op. Through this organization, local farmers post their products on the Co-op's web site, and then consumers/members of the Co-op purchase food from the farmers through the web site. You order the food online (which is what I was doing yesterday), and then go pick it up at the designated pick-up date and location.

Besides being able to do a portion of my monthly grocery shopping in my pajamas while eating breakfast, here are some other reasons why I love the Co-op:
  • Support local farmers.
  • Get fresher food (its not shipped from South America like a lot of the food in grocery stores).
  • Much more environmentally friendly.
  • You can read about each of the farms and their farming practices before ordering their products.
  • You can select foods that are certified organic, free-range, grass fed, pesticide free, etc.
  • You can minimize dealing with the shopping cart traffic jams and long check-out lines that occur in traditional grocery stores.
Yes, you might pay slightly more for buying through the Co-op compared to a traditional grocery store. However, the Co-op farmers often put their products on sale too.

And while you're writing your check, think about the good that you're doing. It's win-win for everyone: the Earth, West Michigan farmers, and you.

Saturday, February 7, 2009


Hello, everybody! It's Paul, your friendly Co-op Tech Guy.

You may have noticed a slightly different look on the home page today. This refreshed look was wrapped into our version 1.2 software update.

We've done a lot of work on the back-end of the software (the database things you don't - and don't want to - see). Hopefully, this in addition to some changes to the look and organization of the site will help you get shopping faster.

This also puts a stronger foundation in place for us to add new features, and further organize the current ones. Our software has been in a constant state of change with our continuing growth - we appreciate your patience as there have certainly been growing pains at times!

If you notice any errors today, go ahead and email I've added myself on to that list for this cycle so that I can get a handle on any bugs that crop up with the new software - and there's sure to be some!

Finally, it might be interesting to note that we have also open-sourced our software. Information is available at What this means is that other people can now start the work of opening their own online co-op in their area - and they have a head-start by downloading and using our software.

Thanks everybody - shop early, shop often!

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Light Bulb guy

I hear alot of people refer to Michael Hedrick as the light bulb guy! That's because his booth is usually lit up with his line of energy-efficient, full-spectrum light bulbs.

The actual company name is Healthy Living Technology, and he sells WAY more than just light bulbs. Last month I finally purchased the Living Water All-In-One Showerhead w/ filter. The showerhead has a replaceable filter that takes out chlorine, sodium hypochlorite and hydrogen sulfide. I became concerned about the chemicals and toxins you absorb and inhale during showers, and Healthy Living Technology had the solution. I chose the handheld model since I also have a big dog I routinely bath (can't wait to try it!)

You can also get whole house air and water purification systems, as well as a slew of other feel good products.

So next time you're picking up your order, be sure to swing by the Light Bulb guy and take a peak at what else is for sale!