Eric Stoddard talks about the Ticonderoga Natural Foods Cooperative during a meeting at TiNY Wellness Center April 21.
Members of the Ticonderoga Natural Foods Co-op talked about options to bring a marketplace for fresh, local produce to town.
During its April 21 meeting at TiNY Wellness Center, members talked about progress being made on a potential food cooperative that could be created as early as next year along with partnering with Juniper Hills Farms, Wadhams, to receive produce this summer.
Also on hand was Taylor Ward of the Adirondack Meat Company to talk about the possibility of adding a produce component to their operations.
“Our focus right now is on local and fresh and we are working to open a retail store in a new location and add fresh produce and fish to our product line,” Ward said. “We are basically looking at starting a farmer’s market and getting local farmers to produce for that.”
Ward said the goals of her family’s company mirrored those of the Co-op.
“This may be a chance where we can work together for a common goal,” she said. “We want to make money for the town and keep it here locally instead of having people drive 40 to 50 miles for products that we can have a supply here.”
Eric Stoddard of the Co-op steering committee said the organization was currently working on finding volunteers and new members ($25 individual share, $250 for a fully vested membership) to train before taking their message out to local groups and organizations.
“We want to get everyone trained so we can start doing public outreach in June,” Stoddard said. “We are shooting for 300 fully vested members by the fall, and our goal would be to then have 300 more members before we open the doors.”
Stoddard said that there were no plans on opening a cooperative market this year.
“If we do really well this summer and get a lot of people to join, then the sooner the better,” he said. “Right now, it would still most likely open next year.”
Some questioned if the co-op and potential Adirondack Meat proposal could both survive.
“We are still tossing ideas around as we are not looking to step on any toes,” Ward said.
“There are options out there,” PRIDE of Ticonderoga Executive Director and Steering Committee member Sharon Reynolds said. “We have come a long way over the past two years. If there is no interest in a co-op here then people will show that through their investments.”
Stoddard said that while the co-op works to gain members, there was the chance for those interested to join a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) group through Juniper Hill.
“You buy into the farm to help them through the summer and you get produce from the farm in return,” Stoddard said. “It works on a debit system and what I like about this farm is they give you the option to pick and choose what you want instead of just receiving a box of produce that you do not know what you are getting until you open it.”
Stoddard said if they were able to get 30 people interested, Juniper Hill would make a weekly run to Ticonderoga to drop off the produce. If not, people would have to travel to either Wadhams or Schroon Lake, the closest drop off location.
“We have 10 signed up so far,” Stoddard said. “I need these numbers to be able to ask them to put a delivery stop in Ticonderoga.”
For more information on the Ticonderoga Natural Foods Co-op, visit ticfoodcoop.blogspot.com, facebook.com/ticonderogacoop, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.