September Meeting: Ventura Food Co-op – More than a store to buy your veggies.

Sunday,  september 3

3:00  to 5:00 p.m.

E.P. Foster Library’s Topping Room

651 E. Main St., Ventura

 

Ron Whitehurst will introduce us to the Ventura Food Co-op.

Cooperative businesses are an antidote for the woes of capitalism. Here is an enterprise that values building community, improving members health, saving them money, educating about the food system, promoting social networking, and fostering more co-ops. Ventura Food Coop is a social, political and economic force that is working to re-localize our food supply and build toward a regional food hub that will supply our county with fresh local food at a fair price.

 This could be a spring board to a full fledged food hub, such as the one that Larry Yee is working on in Fresno.
The co-op can sell breads, canned goods, ferments, brews and other products produced under the cottage foods legislation in CA and carry local and organic produce from our area like Isla Vista sources 40% from local farms. We can contract with local growers to produce for us fruits and vegetables that are not readily available in the market. We can take a box or two of fruit grown in local yards. We can take local farmers second quality produce or culls and offer them at reduced price. There are many ways that we can stimulate the local economy and promote resiliency.

Ventura Food Co-operative Vision Statement

MISSION

To provide fairly priced groceries, while following co-operative principles.  The Ventura Food Co-op’s focus is to source small-scale, local, organic goods with the intention of keeping ourselves, our community, and our environment healthy and happy.  In addition, it will provide a space for the Ventura community to gather, organize, learn, and share.

VALUES

The Ventura Food Co-op arises from and exists to support the local community.  VFC practices respect people and planet. Goods and services are traded in a fair and equitable manner.  Food and products bought and sold by VFC are healthy, organic, sustainably produced, and small scale.  VFC values and actively supports the triple bottom line.

VISION

A downtown Ventura location, relatively a food desert, is easy to reach by walking, bike, bus, and car for most customers. A clean, folksy inviting building and grounds say this is a community gathering place with a comfortable outdoor meeting space pleasantly located within the adjoining demonstration garden.  It’s a social hub, as well as a great place to pick up the week’s groceries. The building supplies much of its power from the sun and rain water is directed to the garden.

Grocery shoppers will be greeted by an excited core of staff and volunteers who have worked hard to make this new community resource a reality.  The focal point of the VFC Grocery is the fresh produce prominently displayed in the center of the store.  Moving about the store, shoppers will also find dry goods, refrigerated items, bulk items for scooping into the containers that shoppers have brought with them, and local artisan products like soaps, granolas, oils, vinegars, and honey.  The small café offers healthy food prepared from the same organic, responsibly-sourced products that are found in the store.  Shoppers take the time to linger here and enjoy this space, joined by other community members greeting friends and neighbors in this enriching and invigorating common ground for feeding both the body and the community spirit.

VFC meets the needs of a large and diverse population of stakeholders.  Policies of VFC are inclusive and sensitive to diversity concerns.  VFC Directors, staff, volunteers, members, and vendors skillfully balance traditional professionalism with co-operative business practices. VFC is funded by the community and functions autonomously.

A Board of Directors elected by the member-owners will set policy, procure funding, make executive level decisions, and reach out to the community at large.  Daily administration of the grocery store and related activities will be the responsibility of the well-paid general manager supported by a small staff working for better than minimum wage. Ongoing outreach is a prominent component of VFC and is accomplished through use of social media tools, community meetings, events, volunteer programs, and educational forums.

VFC offers a full range of food products that customers would purchase at a typical grocery store.  Beyond the standard products found at a neighborhood grocery, items stocked at VFC include:

  • Local artisan goods
  • Specialty foods, ethnic foods, and superfoods
  • Exotic fruits and vegetables that are not easily found at other markets
  • Bulk products, including bulk herbs, teas, and spices, and bulk refrigerated goods
  • Non-standard produce at a reduced price
  • Natural and healthy products
  • Paper products and kitchen goods
  • Refill bottles
  • Regional beer and wine

The Ventura Food Co-op space is a community resource, conducive to building community, without any sense of exclusivity.  The outside spaces are thoughtfully integrated with interior spaces and activities but allow for the appreciation of nature and connection to the greater neighborhood.  The indoor space is designed for pleasant and comfortable shopping, working, and meeting.

The Ventura Food Co-op is a well-run, financially stable collaboration of like-minded people which both builds and supports community while promoting a healthy, just, and sustainable world.

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