FREDERICKSBURG’S developing food co-op project is already a national award winner and it hasn’t even sold its first ear of sweet corn or vine-ripened tomato. It was recently recognized as the “Best of the Best” at the recent Up & Coming Startup Food Co-op Conference in Milwaukee.
Congratulations. That’s great. But there’s still work to be done. The co-op was recently just 22 memberships away from 1,000, the magic number set by the organizers four years ago that tells them the time is right to actually open a store. And from the way things are going, 1,000 memberships is only the beginning.
Given all that’s been accomplished since organizers first batted the co-op idea around in 2015, it’s no surprise the effort has gained national attention. At the gathering in Milwaukee, co-op founding member Rich Larochelle was able to show what momentum looks like: 251 member sign-ups in 2016; 267 in 2017; 335 in 2018.
If you do the math, that comes to 853 memberships. Add another 125 so far in 2019, and the grand total comes to 978. The membership momentum that the co-op group has mustered and maintained makes it just a matter of time before the 1,000-member plateau is achieved and the physical store is realized.
When the store opens, everyone will be welcome to shop there. And because the store will carry a bounty of local, organically grown fresh fruits, vegetables and household products, who wouldn’t want to shop there?
The more fresh fruits and veggies people buy—and eat—the healthier they will be. And the more local goods people buy, the less that’s needed to be trucked in from distant warehouses, which means less fuel used and fewer emissions.
If you choose to become a member, even better. For a single, one-time $200 donation, everyone in your household is a member, and eligible for a variety of discounts and other benefits once the store opens.
As you read this, the co-op’s site selection committee is shopping for a potential location. The right spot will have 10,000 square feet of space, and be located where it’s readily accessible to Fredericksburg area residents.
This is an initiative that area residents should be proud of and support. As Larochelle puts it: “It’s getting exciting!”
In the meantime, area farmers markets will be opening up soon to provide their usual wide assortment of fresh, local produce. Visit thefarmersmarket.co (that’s right, .co) to get the details. The downtown Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania and King George markets all have their grand openings in April and will welcome shoppers every Saturday throughout the season.
Who says there’s no good news in the newspaper?