Guest blog by Ruby Levine, P6 Marketing & Communications
On May 28-29, in Fayetteville, Arkansas, 20 representatives from the rapidly-growing ranks of P6 cooperatives met to discuss the future of a strong cooperative supply chain. We were joined by the three new farmer co-ops that joined P6 in 2015: Maple Valley, Organic Valley/Organic Prairie, and Farmer Direct. These co-ops collaborated with folks from the eight retail food co-op members of P6, including our two newest members, Menomonie Market Food Co-op and Roanoke Natural Foods, to get serious about what co-op to co-op trade will mean for our food system.
Our facilitators led us in a conversation about how to support new co-ops in joining P6 and building cooperative supply chains. We heard presentations from Eric Newman of Organic Valley/Organic Prairie, who told us about the challenges and opportunities of being an 1,800 member organic, farmer-owned cooperative. Cecil Wright of Maple Valley shared his experience as a maple farmer and as the leader of an established, but smaller, multi-stakeholder cooperative of organic maple farmers and the people who support their efforts and buy their products. Finally Jason Freeman of Farmer Direct Co-op, an all-organic, all-domestic fair trade certified co-op in Canada that produces grains and beans and is just breaking into the American market with the help of P6.
Our first board election took place in the days leading up to the Annual Meeting, and the results were announced at the meeting. This is the first time our leadership has been elected, following the great work of our founding Board. We’re taking the next steps in building a democratic organization! Our new Board members are Loralyn Milcarek of Three Rivers Market, Bjorn Bergman of Viroqua Food Co-op, Cecil Wright of Maple Valley Co-op, Eric Newman of Organic Valley/Organic Prairie, Nick Seeberger of Seward Community Co-op, and Jeff Jewel of Bloomingfoods.
P6 was a sponsor for the CCMA conference in Boise, Idaho, June 11-13. Aaron Reser, Nick Seeberger and Jan Rasikas (founding Board member) gave a workshop on Cooperative Advantage in Action: How P6 Co-ops Measure and Demonstrate Their Impact.
To keep up with P6 on a national level, follow the P6 blog at http://p6.coop/news/
Ruby Levine, P6 Marketing & Communications