It’s an incredible understatement to say that global pandemics are humbling. They force us to step back and pinpoint what we deem “essential,” to acknowledge the people and services we cannot function without. Farmers – specifically those who grow nutritious food for their community – undoubtedly fall into this category. And they have already been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.Read More
Viroqua Food Co+op Blog
Now is the time to run for a position on the VFC Board of Directors.Read More
It was exactly one year ago when I was approached about running for the Viroqua Food Co+op’s Board of Directors. I have so much love for this community and all that it has to offer. It has an accepting nature that nurtures and supports the growth of individuals and families. The Viroqua Food Co+op is a priceless centerpiece to Southwest Wisconsin and strives to enrich the lives of all of those it touches whether as a visitor, a shopper, a local community member, or a farmer.Read More
Co-op to Co-op Producer: Small Family Farm
Rochdale Farms Co-op partners with several small-scale, multi-generational farms, craft producers and cheese makers to bring their products to food cooperatives throughout the Midwest.
Ownership is a big deal at the Viroqua Food Co+op! The 4,213 folks that have invested $75 in the Co-op are the owners of VFC. We’re a community-owned enterprise that exists to serve you. In return, our owners keep profits and wages in our community and support a wide range of community organizations, small-scale agricultural producers, and programs like Co-op Community Fund and Micro-lending Initiative. October is Co-op Month and it’s a time where we give even more attention to celebrating co-ops and expressing gratitude to VFC Owners for your ongoing patronage.Read More
Viroqua Food Co-op Owner: Is your son or daughter planning on attending a two or four year institution of higher education in 2017? If you answered yes, invite them apply for Vernon County Co-op Association's 2017 Scholarship. The application is now available!Read More
The Viroqua Food Cooperative is undergoing a fundamental shift in the way we run our business and it relies on all the heads in the room.
A year ago I traveled with two other members of the VFC Management team, Jan Rasikas and Eric Speck, to Zingerman’s Zing Train in Ann Arbor, Michigan. We participated in a three day training based on the principles of Open Book Management. This concept was developed and implemented by Jack Stack at SRC Holdings and expressed in his book The Great Game of Finance. Zingerman’s Delicatessen implemented these same practices in the 1990’s and by 2003 was a completely Open Book Business.
My assumption walking into the training was that we were going to learn about creative ways to understand balance sheets, read profit-loss statements, and interpret financial statements. I was pleasantly surprised to discover I was completely wrong.
Open Book Management is a system in which everyone in the organization takes responsibility for the effective operation of the business, financial and otherwise.
This means the business is not being run by a solitary lone figure sitting in an office pulling strings like a puppet master and issuing commands. It also means that our financial information isn’t kept under lock and key and analyzed only by the select few in the inner circle. Instead, the creative forces of all the individuals performing the work are empowered to understand how the business works, why it works and most importantly, what we can do to make things better.
Sounds good, even revolutionary, but is it really possible? If Zingerman’s is any indication of the kind of success that is possible then the answer is a resounding YES! Currently the Zingerman’s Community of Businesses is a 45 million dollar industry with the same small origins as our own dear Co-op.
How does Open Book Management work? It starts with principles we call The Three Steps to Great Finance: Know and Teach the Rules, Keep Score and Share the Success.
Two organizations focused on cooperatives are stepping in to enable donations in support of recovery efforts after the devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy: the Cooperative Development Foundation (CDF) and the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF).
My name is Kevin Schmidt. I am a clinical social worker/psychotherapist, at Center Point Counseling Services Cooperative, in Viroqua Wisconsin. We opened our doors in December 2011, the first mental health cooperative in the country.
We are a worker cooperative. This means that our 12 clinical and administrative staff are the member-owners of the cooperative.
During this last year of introducing our cooperative to the public, many have asked “So what is a worker cooperative?” I realized that when we have been answering this question, we generally preface our response “Well, a worker cooperative is a business model…” and then there are a number of ways to end that sentence, to distinguish this business model from others. These distinctions were usually poignant, direct statements about powerful aspects of worker cooperatives, and cooperatives in general. One day, I decided to write down the many ways that we end this sentence, the ways that the worker cooperative is set apart from other business models: