FMI Neighborhood Partnership Award Again Goes to a Co-op

1999: Hanover Co-op -- Harvest Partners Garden
2000: PCC Natural Markets -- Farmland Fund

Editor's note: Thanks for information from Rosemary Fifield, Education Director at Hanover Co-op, and Jody Aliesan, PCC Farmland Fund President and Operations Officer.

The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) announced in August that PCC Natural Markets in Seattle was the winner of an FMI Neighborhood Partnership Award for its Farmland Fund. FMI will make a $3,000 donation to further the Fund's goals.

FMI, a nonprofit trade association with 1,500 food retailer and wholesaler members, uses the Neighborhood Partnership Award to recognize supermarket companies' commitment to the communities in which they do business.

PCC Natural Markets has certainly demonstrated that commitment again and again, as has last year's award winner, Hanover Co-op.

Hanover Co-op: Harvest Partners Garden

Hanover Co-op won an FMI Neighborhood Partnership Award in 1999 for its Harvest Partners Garden, a volunteer project that addresses hunger from the ground up. The co-op, which operates two supermarkets and two smaller operations in the Hanover, New Hampshire area, was the national award winner among stores in the annual sales category of less than $70 million. Hanover Co-op received $3,000 from FMI for continuation of the program.

Harvest Partners Garden is a partnership among the co-op, local social service agencies, and several volunteer groups addressing needs for food in the Upper Valley region. The co-op provides the land on which produce is organically grown; the supplies, tools, and other equipment; and staff to recruit, train, and coordinate the volunteers who grow, harvest, and deliver the fresh vegetables.

Local farmers, merchants, foundations, and a bank have made contribution, along with over 400 volunteers. The volunteers are inter-generational, multi-ethnic, and economically diverse. In the process of helping others, they learn principles and methods of organic gardening including composting and alternative means of pest control.

The program is aimed at helping families and individuals who are experiencing transition, pregnancy, low-income or developmental challenges. The garden production focuses on familiar vegetables that require minimal preparation. In addition, co-op staff developed nutrition information brochures and easy recipes. Since its inception in 1996, the program has raised and delivered more than 3,500 pounds of organically grown fresh vegetables -- roughly 14,000 servings.

PCC Natural Markets: Farmland Fund

PCC Natural Markets, with seven stores, is the largest consumer food cooperative in the U.S. and a premier retailer of natural foods in the Northwest. Long a supporter of local and organic producers in the region, the co-op expanded its commitment in 1999 by establishing the PCC Farmland Fund. Contributions to the Fund are being made by co-op members, staff, vendors, and others.

The North Olympic Land Trust and the Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe are among the Fund's allies in an effort to protect the local farming community and resident wildlife and to re-establish a natural floodplain ecosystem along portions of the Lower Dungeness River.

Western Washington efforts to preserve Lower Dungeness Valley and Sequim Bay farmland and coastal wetland from development were greatly strengthened this spring when the PCC Farmland Fund purchased a crucial 100-acre farm in the Dungeness Delta. The Fund will lease the farm from the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife, hold a conservation easement requiring organic farming, and manage a sublease to Nash Huber, the organic farmer whose concern for the land inspired creation of the Farmland Fund.

A $600,000 purchase agreement was signed, with 18 months to repay the primary loan (at current banking interest rates) of $500,000. To pay off the loan, PCC continues to seek contributions and low-interest loans to the Farmland Fund. A one-to-one match by the Washington Dept. of Fish & Wildlife has been approved by the U.S. Wildlife Service and is moving through further reviews toward allocation.

In the near future, PCC plans on purchasing most of the dozens of varieties of organic produce Huber will grow in nearly year-round succession. In addition, the organic farming will contribute to protection of seven salmon speies and many other creatures in the vicinity.

See other articles from this issue: #091 November - December - 2000