Spring Growth and Transformation

By John Tashiro, General Manager

We’re slowly coming out of winter dormancy and enjoying spring’s early blossoms and warmer weather. Here at your Co-op, we’ve been prepping during the long winter months for growth and transformation and I wanted to share a glimpse of that here.

I often take time to reflect on the strong values, deep dedication and tireless commitment that our staff of over 230 people bring to their Co-op work each and every day. It never ceases to amaze me. From the redesign of our Bulk Department, to the consolidation of the Reverse Osmosis (RO) water and Kombucha keg station (coming soon to Aisle 6), to expanding our everyday low price Co-op Basics program (with now over 260 options), improving your shopping experience and meeting the needs of our community remain our focus.

To share our story and live our mission (and bring some sunshine to the winter months):

·         We presented an overview of our prior year successes to the Burlington City Council in March;

·         Hosted our 3rd annual Co-op Patronage Seedling Grants celebration with guests Mayor Miro Weinberger and Secretary Tebbetts of Vermont’s Department of Agriculture, Food and Markets. Our Member Grants Committee and Board awarded over $56,000 to 8 grant recipients innovating within the local food system. Our 2017 grant applications are now available (and due by June 30);

·         We offered 15,000 free re-useable bags to customers as part of our Earth Week celebration! Many thanks to our partners, Seventh Generation and Cabot Creamery Co-operative;

·         We celebrated our 15th anniversary in our Downtown Co-op in February with mini donuts from Doughnut Dilemma, free seed bombs with Vermont wildflower seeds and 15% off coupons for customers;

·         Community members voted on 9 different mural designs for the exterior of the South End store (we will announce the 3 winners soon!).

As we transform into a two store Co-op, we continue to make fantastic progress in the South End. Our team of architects, construction workers, engineers, landscape architects and environmental consultants are working in partnership with the City and the State. I would encourage you to visit the 207 Flynn Ave site (outside the fence, please!) as you can really see the store taking shape. So exciting! In addition, we posted a Request for Proposals to eventually sell the southern parcel in the South End (aka 75 Briggs Street). Responses are due by May 22 and we’re excited to review ideas for this land!

On a broader note, I would be remiss if I failed to mention that World Fair Trade Day is celebrated on Saturday, May 13. Recognized globally on every second Saturday of May, the day was founded in 2004 by the World Fair Trade Organization which represents over 360 member organizations across 70 countries. Fair Trade is a transparent trading system that supports sustainable livelihoods primarily for small scale producers, farmers and their communities who are most vulnerable in developing countries. The system is grounded in the cooperative model and helps to ensure fair prices, good working conditions, and long-term partnerships addressing poverty, exploitation and climate change.

Here at the Co-op, we currently source over 300 Fair Trade items, an increase of 13% over last year. You’ll find Fair Trade items throughout the Co-op, including bananas, avocados, flowers, chocolate, coffee, tea, sugar, soaps, shampoos and many others. These items have various Fair Trade certifications that guarantee your purchases bring real change and improve the lives of several million small scale farmers, producers and their communities around the world.

As always, thank you all for your continued support and cooperative spirit! We remain ever committed to serving you, our Members and the entire community. We look forward to seeing you at the Co-op and wish you a beautiful spring!