Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Shop Local this Holiday Season

Shopping locally during the holiday season is one of my favorite way to get unique gifts for friends and family. This year I added the Co-Op to my list of stops for holiday shopping. There are tons of food and non-food items that would be great gifts on their own or paired together in a gift basket. Here are a few of my favorites:
  • Pancake mix, maple syrup and coffee
  • Body butter, hand soaps and lotions
  • Monthly meat box, spices and herbs
  • Lip balm, mineral eyeshadow and face cream
  • Bath salts, candles and tea
  • Snacks! Trail mix, chocolates, toffee and granola
  • Scarves and wool socks
  • Dog treats and doggie shampoo (don't forget about your pet!)
These are just some suggestions, but if you browse through all the Co-Op's available products you'll find even more possibilities. And don't forget to shop between now and Friday so you can pick-up your gifts during pickup night on December 21st. Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Co-Op Welcomes New Producer, Terra Stella

The West Michigan Co-Op is happy to welcome a brand new producer, Terra Stella.

Terra Stella specializes in Artisan Teas, Salts and Spice Blends. Their products are made from mostly organic, ethically harvested or hand-mined products. Many of their items are available during this month's shopping cycle.

Don't forget to visit Terra Stella's table at pick-up night to learn more about their products and welcome them to the Co-Op!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What to Expect at West Michigan Co-Op, A New Member's Point of View

This month the West Michigan Co-Op welcomed a number of new members. One of these members authors the popular blog, Eat Local, West Michigan, and she shared all the details of her first Co-Op experience in a recent blog post. Check it out here and see the West Michigan Co-Op from a new member's point of view.

Monday, November 28, 2011

West Michigan Co-Op in the News

A recent article from the Grand Rapids Press features the West Michigan Co-Op and provides some great information to readers about what the Co-Op has to offer. If you haven't had a chance to read this article you can check it out here at MLive.com.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Two New Producers Join the West Michigan Co-Op

Just in time for the November shopping cycle Shady Side Farm and Salt of the Earth have joined the Co-Op as our two newest producers.

Shady Side Farm has been farming full time for 15 years now and their crops are certified organic through the Global Organic Alliance. This month they have a variety of beans available for sale as well as jams and wool socks, which would make awesome gifts for the holidays.

Salt of the Earth is a rustic American eatery and bakery in Fennville, Michigan and they produce a full line of non-GMO breads. When baking their bread he dough is turned and shaped by hand, then set in our wood fired oven and baked to a rich brown, to impart more complexity in the final flavor and a rustic texture & appearance. This month at the co-op try their Cinnamon Raisin Breakfast Bread, Bacon Bread or Seedy Salt Bread.

And don't forget, Thanksgiving is right around the corner and this is your last chance to stock up on delicious, local products for your Thanksgiving dinner.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Anniversary Celebration

Next month, West Michigan Co-op will celebrate its fifth anniversary. One way that we are recognizing this milestone is by doing a membership drive. Every new member who signs up and shops between November 1 and December 21 (December pick-up night) will receive a thank you gift. In addition, each current member who refers a new member will also receive a thank you gift.

The thank you gift will be a product from one of our wonderful producers. There will be a variety of gifts including: lettuce, lamb burgers, soup, a bar of soap, all purpose cleaner, and more!

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more details & updates about the Anniversary Celebration


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Welcome Our Two Newest Producers

The Co-Op is happy to welcome two new producers, Woods Farms and Videtich Apiaries!

Woods Farms is located between Torch Lake, Elk Lake and Grand Traverse Bay and they produce pure maple syrup. Their syrup is available during this month's shopping cycle and I can't wait to try it! Click here to view all their available products.

Videtich Apiaries provides pollination services to numerous local farmers by bringing hives to their fields. Once the bees have pollinated the crops in these fields the hives are moved to forests and grasslands and the bees make honey- pure, raw honey that you can now get at the Co-Op! Click here to view all their available products.

Tomorrow is the last day for shopping during this month's cycle, so get your order in soon and don't forget to add some honey and syrup to your cart! And make sure you stop by the tables for Woods Farms and Videtich Apiaries on pick-up night to welcome these two new producers.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

2011 Local First Fork Fest

Local First Fork Fest is coming up and West Michigan Co-Op will be there! This event gives you the chance to sample food and beverages from over 25 local restaurants, farms, grocers, bakers, breweries and more. It's another great opportunity to get to know a few of your local producers and the businesses that support them. There will also be live music by the Fauxgrass Quartet.

Here are all the details:

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011
5:00-9:00 P.M.

Romence Gardens

Click Here for Tickets

Hope to see you there!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Support Your Local Farmers and the Fair Farm Bill

The 2008 Federal Farm Bill, an important piece of legislation for small, mid-size and local farmers, is up for re-authorization by Congress in 2012. The organization Food and Water Watch is advocating for updates to this bill which would have a positive effect on farmers, the environment and consumers.

The proposed changes would create a level playing field and fair markets for all farmers by breaking up the monopolies that currently exist in the agricultural industry and creating pricing and contract policies that ensure a fair return on sales. These changes would also support environmental conservation efforts and sustainable farming practices. For the consumer, this would mean increased access to healthy food, more diverse choices and stable prices.

If you want to support a Fair Farm Bills, and all of our local farmers at the Co-Op, you can visit the Food and Water Watch website here to sign a petition to Congress that encourages the following actions:

  • Level the playing field for farmers

  • Make markets fair for farmers and consumers

  • Ensure food security by restoring the grain reserve

  • Make healthy food accessible for all people

  • Rebuild local infrastructure for regional food systems

  • Make smart government food purchases

  • Support new sustainable farming programs

  • Promote environmental stewardship

  • Require full safety reviews and labeling of GE foods

  • Stop subsidizing factory farms and dangerous technologies

Want to get more involved? On Tuesday, September 27th, Food and Water Watch is hosting a call-in day at Fulton Street Farmer's Market from 9:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m, everyone is welcome! Individuals will be asked to contact Senator Stabenow and leave her a message requesting that she implement the Fair Farm Rules.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Annual Meeting Announcement & Board Candidates

West Michigan Co-op's Board of Director's annual meeting will be held on Tuesday, January 8, at 6:30 at Media Rare (1111 Godfrey SW). Everyone is welcome to attend.

At the meeting, a vote will be held to fill several open positions on the board. The candidates running for these positions were asked to submit a statement about themselves so that the voters can get to know them a little better. Below are those candidate statements.

Ginger Graham

My name is Ginger Graham, and I own Daisy Doodles, a Montague-based small business named after my son’s sweet yellow lab and dedicated to providing a terrific treat made with a light pawprint. Maybe you’ve seen Daisy’s stand-in and me on pickup nights. Anyway, while my business is young and my co-op membership younger, my connection to the earth goes way back to my childhood (you don’t really need to know how far back that was).

Why do I offer my services as a potential Co-Op board member? I do it because I believe in what the Co-Op stands for, and what it is building. I’m willing to give of my time and talents because I’m convinced that cooperative community is what will allow us to thrive even if the future takes some drastic turns for which we may or may not be prepared. I believe that it is our sacred obligation to live respectfully by treating the earth with kindness and helping to provide healthful products and nutritious foods for people (and pets). I’d like to learn much and contribute in kind. I enjoy associating with interesting and forward-thinking people.

Raised by a mother who graced our yard with the most beautiful perennial flowerbeds in the neighborhood, I came by gardening naturally. After venturing out into the brave new world of big cities and distant states, I have returned to my roots, both literally and figuratively. Several years ago I rediscovered my gardening passion, on a plot (expanded to three the next year) in a local farmer’s organic community garden. Since then I’ve moved my Garden Tir na nOg to my front yard (we really DO eat the view!), acquired a small mixed flock of laying hens who help with pest control and fertilization, and started a business which is committed to supporting the local food system and economy by sourcing our ingredients as locally as possible. I also participated as a grower/producer for CUSP, a project of the Greater Grand Rapids Local Food Systems Council, supplying community-grown organic produce to restaurants in Grand Rapids, Muskegon and Whitehall.

Just a bit more on the personal front: I’m a mother, a teacher, an entrepreneur, an activist, a musician, an artist, a gardener, an environmentalist, an animal lover, a peace monger, a champion for the underdog, a homesteader wannabe, and a Pisces. I can find my way around a computer with some competence, my writing skills are pretty decent, and I work very diligently on projects I value. I don’t know if it matters here or not, but I have a BA in Applied Liberal Studies from WMU and an M ED from Aquinas College. So now you know.

Andrea Jacobson

I joined West Michigan Co-Op in 2007. The first month that I joined the Co-Op I began volunteering and have been here almost every month since then. I love being able to interact with the other members while helping the Co-Op run.

While my primary job is in the legal field, I have also worked as a managing cashier in a retail setting and as a volunteer cashier at a school auction. I think that both of these areas benefit me with working with the Co-Op.

The law firm I work with is very much into technology (we’re basically paperless!), and I have a lot of experience with how an organization can use technology to improve efficiency and lower costs, all while making it a fun place to work. My husband is also a software engineer. Both my co-workers, friends, and husband offer me many connections and lots of insight for helping develop the technology side of the Co-Op.

In my “past life” as a cashier, I was routinely involved in balancing the cash drawers and supervising the overall use of the systems. I have experience in how a business can monitor its transactions and increase customer service and transaction speed.

If you’ve met me on pick-up night, I think it’s no secret that I am a people person. I love working with the Co-Op, interacting with the other members, and I look forward to serving on the Board so that I can help the Co-Op continue to grow and best serve its members.

Amy Neis

I am Amy Neis and I am currently a board member. I was elected as the board alternate in 2010 and have throughly enjoyed my learning year.

My start with the co-op began back in the beginning when you actually had to wait to be invited to join! I felt so lucky when I finally got that email telling me I could become an official member. Yippee, we were finally in!

After joining, I felt drawn to volunteering. Local food, local products, getting to know who was growing what and how it was being grown were all things I felt very strongly about. I started to realize I wanted to be more than just a member, I wanted to get involved. So, my family and I started volunteering for pick-up nights. Soon word came that committees were forming and needed members to volunteer. It was at that point I also became a membership committee member. After a couple of years as a committee member, I became the head of the membership committee and board liaison, which I continue to do currently.

My past history, if you want to go that far, includes being co-owner of a family design business. I feel it has helped me in my understanding of not only how the co-op works, but also in regard to the producers themselves and how we need to understand their needs as small businesses inside the larger umbrella of the co-op.

So, with my history in front of you, I just want to say that I would love the opportunity to continue to serve on the board.

Thank you.

Elizabeth Van Doorne

I believe I am well suited for a board position with the West Michigan Cooperative for numerous reasons, but the most relevant include my current employment along with my past course work and research interests in both my undergrad and graduate programs of study.

In August 2010 I started work with the West Regional Planning Commission as the primary planner and GIS technician (cartographer). Regional cohesion in urban planning is crucial to not only man made schemes such as large scale transit, but also because our natural resources don’t necessarily adhere to political boundaries such as city borders or highways. It is of utmost importance to work together as a region for effective and comprehensive planning for farmland preservation, economic development, and many other initiatives that will affect the quality of life in West Michigan.

My undergraduate degree in Anthropology included a summer field school that focused on local food systems and their relationship to the farmers market in Grand Rapids. This set the stage for a Master’s degree in Urban Planning and Geography at Western Michigan University, where my research focuses on farmland preservation in fringe communities. I am currently in the last stage of my MA, which is a thesis on comparative analysis of various urban planning techniques used to balance community growth and development without losing a rural character along with precious farmland in townships adjacent to Grand Rapids.

Aside from what I already described, I want to join the board because I believe in creating positive change. Complacency in our society is fast becoming the norm, and it is up to the people of West Michigan to practice responsibility in our actions and plans. After all, if we all enjoy living here so much, we certainly should work to preserve the character and environment for the future.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

New producer: Ginger Clean

You may have seen them at pick-up last month, but new producer Ginger Clean has their products on our Web site for the first time this month. Here's more about them:

In a world where “natural” can be overused, even misleading it’s comforting to know that three women, Ginger, Carol and Tammy, bring to your family a TRULY all natural environmentally friendly line of household cleaners and laundry soap that actually works! Ginger Clean’s philosophy is to protect you and your family by using only truly natural ingredients. Our entire line of products brings peace of mind to your family, home, and the environment’s future. We truly believe in our cleaning products and trust you will too.

Ginger Clean is currently selling all-purpose spray, outdoor cleaner, powdered cleanser, soft scrub, window cleaner, and laundry detergent. Click here to read more.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

New producer: Cowslip Creamery

We have a new cheese producer this month! Here's a bit about Cowslip Creamery:

Cowslip Creamery is nestled in a lovely outbuilding on picturesque Lubbers Family Farm along the Grand River in West Michigan. Our creamery makes cheese the old fashioned way, by hand, using fresh milk from the herd of cows grazing on this farm and other small farms. Lubbers Family Farm embraces the fertility of the earth it is rooted in and honors the abundance it provides.

Cowslip Creamery is selling phocas cheese this month. Click here to check it out.

Monday, February 7, 2011

New Producer: Saskatoon Project Midwest

Never heard of a saskatoon berry? Well, here's some information about them from our new producer, Saskatoon Project Midwest:

Saskatoon berries are a native plant to North America. They are a relative of the apple and resemble a blueberry in size and shape. Their flavor has been compared to a number of different fruits but in our opinion they taste like a cross between an apple and a blackberry with slight almond finish (from the seeds). These berries are extremely high in antioxidants and have been compared to a pomegranate because of this. They are also higher in potassium, fiber, and protein than other berry fruits and have high levels of vitamin A and iron as well.

Saskatoons are very versatile and can be used in many different ways. They are a great pie fruit because they retain their shape when they are cooked. They are also very good in sauces for meats, jams & jellies, cocktails, smoothies, muffins, etc.

For more information about Saskatoon Project Midwest and this developing crop in Michigan, click here.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

New products and updates (Feb. 2011)

The February shopping cycle is currently open and runs through February 11!

We have a lot of great new products this month including:
  • Dark chocolate and coffee granola
  • Phocas cheese
  • Saskatoon berries
  • Dried apples and cherries
  • New coffee flavors including French vanilla and hazelnut
  • New tea flavors including Moroccan mint green tea and white peony
  • New frozen yogurt flavors including lemon pepper and strawberry basil
  • New beef products including farmhouse meatloaf, kabob meat, and corned beef.
  • New ready-to-cook entrees including stuffed pork chops with cherry orange sauce and black bean & vegetable polenta pie
  • Hand-crafted scarfs
  • All natural cleaning products
  • Economy size laundry detergent
To view all of our new products, click here.

We also have a few more announcements:

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Upcoming Gardening Workshops (Feb. 17, Mar. 17, Apr. 14)

Pierce Cedar Creek Institute in Barry County is hosting a series of upcoming gardening workshops.

The first workshop will be held on February 17 on the topic of sustainable gardening. This introductory workshop will cover soil properties, soil communities, site selection, organic soil preparation, cover crops, and crop rotation to support soil fertility.

Additional workshops include:
  • Backyard vegetable gardening -- March 17
  • Backyard fruit gardening -- April 14

For more information, click here.