Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Write your Congress Critters

Typically, the Co-op Blog doesn't comment on political issues; we generally don't want to present any kind of bias viewpoint. Local and Sustainable Food isn't a party issue - so bias wouldn't be necessary.

In this case, there's an unusual situation. The House currently has a bill sitting in the House Committee on Agriculture (HR 875) which regulates food safety, the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009. Undoubtedly, this title was chosen so that we can all feel safer about our peanut butter.

The bill, however, dictates significant new powers to the Federal Government to regulate our food system. While this is probably good in some cases - like the aforementioned peanut butter - it can have a detrimental effect on our small-scale, local growers.

I would highly recommend that you read the text of the bill, over at

The bill regulates food processing facilities (like slaughterhouses, packaging plants, and warehouses), and many of these regulations may be acceptable.

However, the bill also regulates food production facilities - which it defines as "any farm, ranch, orchard, vineyard, aquaculture facility, or confined animal-feeding operation" - Section 3, Paragraph 14.

Section 206 of the bill is the specific regulation on Food Production Facilities, where it defines the powers of the Federal Government to regulate the use of fertilizers, nutrients, packaging, etc.

It does not, however, give details of the kinds of fertilizers that would be regulated, or possibly required, for food production. It also doesn't specify exemptions for small-scale farms. It puts several new regulations on safety practice documentation.

The letter of this law concerns me. Its intent is noble, I'm sure - we all want our food to be safe. But, you shouldn't need to employ a lawyer and a science team to be allowed to grow and sell carrots. I urge you to take a look at the bill. You can coment on it at, or better yet - write Rep. Mark Schauer from Michigan, our representative on the House Committee of Agriculture.

At a minimum, I think there are some serious questions about this bill. Read it and let us know what you think!

Monday, March 16, 2009

10 Ways to Become More Involved

Interested in taking part in the inter-workings of the West Michigan Co-op? There is a lot that takes place behind the scenes on a monthly basis to make it possible to acquire great delicious local food & products year round! And we can use your help! Here are 10 ways to become more involved:

1.) Join the Vision Committee! They are meeting tonight at 6pm at the Co-op location - 1111 Godfrey SW. Come and check it out or contact Tom Cary if you are interested.

*Future Growth
*Research options for expansion, including logistics, costs, rate of
growth, etc.

2.) Join the Membership Committee! This committee will be meeting on Monday March 23rd, 6pm at the Co-op - 1111 Godfrey SW. Come and join us or contact Tara Simmons if you are interested in more information.

*Volunteer & pick-up coordination
*Address issues that arise concerning members and volunteers
*Determine guidelines & policies that pertain to membership
*Increase volunteer base
*Volunteer on pick-up nights & help supervise
*Come up with ideas on how the pick-up can be more efficient
*Create & update the Membership Handbook

3.) Join the PR Committee! Contact Lisa Nelson for meeting dates and further information.

*Work to increase co-op membership
*Attend events, hand out brochures, talk about the co-op
*Plan co-op events, advertisements, flyers, etc.
*Blog relevant information concerning events & education
*Plan and coordinate farm tours

4.) Join the Product Committee! Contact Paul DeLeeuw for meeting dates and further information.

*Use programming skills to update and make changes to our website
*Review site to make sure all of the information is current and
*Maintain entries on the blog
*Add information and keep the Wiki up to date

6.) Volunteer on Pick-up nights! The March pick-up is Wed. March 25th. Contact Tara Simmons if you are interested in helping out!

7.) Volunteer for Co-op events! There are numerous events coming up that we will have a presence at. If you are interested in helping to promote the WM Co-op at these events please contact Tara Simmons.

8.) Attend board meetings and/or review meeting minutes online! Board meeting dates for 2009 can be found on our calendar and minutes are posted regularly.

9.) Regularly check the Co-op Calendar! Here you will find all the
important dates, including ordering periods, pick-up dates, meetings
and events.

10.) Help spread the word! Tell family and friends and everyone you
meet about the West Michigan Co-op! Send them to!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

WM Co-op on WYCE

Community Radio junkies take note!

Jerry Adams and Paul DeLeeuw - your Co-op Director and Tech Guy - are going to be on WYCE's Catalyst Radio tomorrow (March 6, 2009). We'll be on at 12:00 noon, talking about what we love: our co-op, how it works, and how we're growing it.

If you're going to miss it, you can catch the interview online as well at the Catalyst Radio Webpage.

Rock & Roll!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Meet your new board!

Congratulations to Kris Van Haitsma and Lisa Nelson, who became the newest members of the Board last night. Georgia Monroe was reelected to remain on the Board. In addition to the two new members, Christina Radisauskas became the Alternate Board member, meaning she will be attending the meetings and ready to step in should a Board member leave for any reason.

You can always see what your Board is up to on the Co-op's wiki and contact them there.

Thank you to everyone who was in attendance at last night's Annual Meeting.

The next meeting is next Tuesday, March 10 at 6:30 pm. We always encourage our members to participate in our meetings and look forward to seeing you there.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Board Meetings

We invite all our members to come to our board meetings. We've got one tonight at 6:30, which is our annual meeting and another one next week on March 10 at 6:30 pm.

You can keep up with what your board is up to on the Co-op wiki where we post all the Board Meeting Minutes, along with the next month's meeting agendas. Be sure to check them out if you can't make the meetings.