By John Tashiro, General Manager
As we wrap up the first week of March, it’s hard to believe the first official day of spring is less than a few weeks away! Along with hopes of warmer temperatures, I’m also reminded of daylight savings this coming Sunday, when time “springs forward” an hour!
Spring always represents an exciting time of year at the Co-op as we start to see more availability of local produce as well as wild foraged items like the mushrooms we have from the Pacific Northwest right now in Produce! Personally, this is the time of year when I begin to plan what vegetables, herbs and flowers to grow in my family’s garden and it’s exciting to peruse the wide variety of seeds available at the Co-op. The experience of planning and maintaining my own family’s garden always makes me appreciate all of the hard work done throughout the year by our local farmers as they continue to provide quality, locally grown food to our community.
As part of our Global Ends, we seek to partner with farmers wherever possible in support of our goal of “strengthening the local food system.” One of the many great resources available in our state for connecting farms, retailers, and consumers is the Farm to Plate Annual Report. As referenced in their report, we have over 15 food co-ops in Vermont that continue to play a key role promoting local food sales by consistently investing in our local food system throughout the years. Further, Vermont food co-ops have been instrumental in making fresh, healthy and local food more accessible for people with limited incomes. Here at City Market, our Food for All program and Co-op Basics program are two ways we seek to make buying local food more affordable for our community members.
Continuing on the theme of local, I’m looking forward to presenting our annual Co-op presentation at Burlington’s City Council meeting next Monday, March 9. This annual tradition is a great opportunity to keep the City updated about our work, general operations and impacts on the community. City Market will also host our 6th Annual Co-op Seedling Grant celebration on Monday, March 16 in our South End Community Room. The annual applications from Vermont non-profits are reviewed by a Member Grants Committee and support a variety of innovative projects seeking to strengthen the local food system. This year, we will be awarding funding to 10 projects totaling $40,000 and look forward to celebrating with recipient organizations, our Board members, Member Grants Committee, and Burlington’s Mayor Weinberger as well as Director Willard from Vermont’s Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets.
Lastly, as we reflect on the importance of our local community, I would be remiss not to mention our monitoring of the on-going developments with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The Co-op, like many organizations, is continuing to monitor the situation closely, considering the importance of the health and safety of our staff, Members, customers and the broader community. While we understand that Vermont’s Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have assessed the risk level to the American public as "low" with no cases currently in Vermont, we want to respond appropriately and as necessary with any new developments.
In the meantime, we remain committed to ensuring a safe and healthy work environment and retail space, communicating with our vendors and partners to ensure that we are able to meet the needs of our community and will share updates as the situation evolves.
The Vermont Department of Health provides some essential information that we are sharing with staff to help stop the spread of germs. Some of that information is included below for reference:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Stay home when feeling sick
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
As always, thank you for your continued support as we strive to listen to your feedback and work every day to serve you, our Members and the broader community. Look forward to seeing you (and some warmer weather) at the Co-op soon!