The 60th Annual Consumer Cooperative Management Association (CCMA) Conference is less than a month away! In addition to dozens of inspiring and thought-provoking sessions, workshops and keynotes, conference attendees will have the opportunity to tour the region’s vibrant co-op culture.
The Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA) is proud to welcome the national food co-op community to a unique part of New England its members refer to as “Co-op Valley.” In collaboration with NFCA member co-ops Brattleboro Food Co-op, Franklin Community Co-op and River Valley Co-op, along with its partners at the Valley Alliance of Worker Co-ops, NFCA has put together a series of tours so you can enjoy the scenery while you get to know some of the region’s co-op businesses and organizations.
Preregistration is required for all tours (look for a survey coming to your inbox next week). NCBA CLUSA recommends that attendees preregister for their top two tour choices. Tour admission is included in your conference registration, and all tours take place on Thursday, June 9. Tours 1 through 4 take place from 1 – 5 p.m. and Tour 5 takes place from noon – 5 p.m. Tour buses will load passengers at the Haigis Mall Bus Stop. Please note that bus capacity is limited. NCBA CLUSA cannot guarantee that every attendee will be registered for their top tour choice, but every effort will be made to accommodate all requests. Additional tourists may carpool and follow the bus of their preferred tour.
Tour details and bus capacity follows:
Tour 1: Co-ops Across the Economy (Amherst & Northampton, MA)
Bus capacity: 45 people
First Stop: Collective Copies. This 33-year-old worker cooperative provides printing services including book publishing for local authors.
Next Stop: UMass 5 Credit Union. This credit union, founded in 1967 with five members contributing $5 each, now has more than 20,000 members and is affiliated with many food co-ops in “Co-op Valley.”
Last Stop: River Valley Co-op. River Valley Co-op opened its doors as a start-up just eight years ago and has since grown to become an anchor of the regional food system with $25 million in annual sales. Tour the store and enjoy local cheese and Riojana wines from a cooperative in Argentina on the deck. River Valley has been a member of NFCA and NCG from its beginning.
Tour 2: Co-op Valley to Co-op Alley! (Greenfield, MA)
Bus Capacity: 45 people
First Stop: Greenfield Farmers’ Cooperative Exchange. This farmers’ supply co-op was founded in 1918 and has been an anchor for our region’s producers ever since.
Next Stop: Franklin Community Co-op. Established in 1977, NFCA and NCG member Franklin Community co-op operates two stores, Green Field’s Market in Greenfield, and McCusker’s Market in Shelburne Falls.
Next Stop: PV Squared. This 14-year-old worker co-op is a leader in solar power installation in “Co-op Valley.”
Next Stop: Real Pickles. This business recently converted from a sole proprietorship to a cooperative, producing 100 percent organic pickles, sauerkraut, kimchee and other naturally-fermented products.
Last Stop: Artisan Beverage Co-op. The result of a merger between two independent businesses, this worker co-op produces Katalyst Kombucha and Green River Ambrosia beverages including Ginger Libation.
Tour 3: Cooperative Care, Food & Farming (Brattleboro, VT)
Bus Capacity: 45 people
First Stop: Brattleboro Food Co-op. Founded in 1975, this NFCA and NCG member food co-op has been a key contributor to the revitalization of downtown Brattleboro and recently completed an award-winning expansion that includes green building features and affordable housing.
Last Stop: Brattleboro Holistic Health Center. This worker co-op got its start when a group of alternative health providers got together to purchase a business from the previous owner. They also operate an apothecary.
Tour 4: Local Food, Local Farms, Local History (Northampton, MA)
Bus Capacity: 55 people
First Stop: River Valley Co-op. River Valley Co-op opened its doors as a start-up just eight years ago and has since grown to become an anchor of the regional food system with $25 million in annual sales. Tour the store and enjoy local cheese and Riojana wines from a co-operative in Argentina on the deck. River Valley has been a member of NFCA and NCG from its beginning.
Next Stop: African American History Tour. Western Massachusetts has a rich history of organizing for racial and economic justice. This tour will include visits to historic sites related to abolitionist leader Sojourner Truth and the Northampton Association for Education and Industry, an early model for multiracial, co-operative living.
Last Stop: Valley Malt at Grow Food Northampton. This stop will feature selected local brews made using Valley Malt and snacks. See organic community gardens at the non-profit community farm operated by Grow Food Northampton. This organization purchased farmland with a mission of making organic farmland accessible for new community farmers as well as community gardeners. They have a vibrant education program and also feature a CSA. One of Grow Food Northampton’s farmer members operates Valley Malt. Valley Malt is reviving heritage grains and the regional tradition of producing malts from local grains for micro beer brewers.
Tour 5: Organic Valley Farm Tour: Franklin Farm (Guilford, VT)
Bus Capacity: 50 people
The Franklin Farm is one of more than 1,800 Organic Valley farms. CROPP Cooperative, with the brands Organic Valley and Organic Prairie, started in 1988 by a handful of farmers in the Midwest. On this tour, you’ll learn about the growth of CROPP Cooperative and the Franklin family’s farming journey. In the southeastern foothills of Vermont’s Green Mountain Range, the Franklins have lived and farmed since the late 1700s.
While visiting Franklin Farm in Guilford, Vermont, you’ll see the cows grazing on pasture while learning about the soil; you’ll learn about milk quality and get a better understanding of the milking process; visit the farm store and sugarhouse; and, if you want to stand in two states at once, we can arrange to have your picture taken of you straddling the Massachusetts/Vermont state line right on the farm.
This tour includes a box lunch from Franklin Community Co-op.