Hi. Pete Woltz here with Timber Ridge Cattle Company. I want take this opportunity to thank the IFC board members for having the confidence in me to elect me as IFC President. It is a great honor.
Part of what I want to do as your President is periodically write about important IFC topics. I’ll start with a short story that is related to what our coop means to me.My sister-in-law’s family fled Cuba in the 60’s to take up residence here in the “land of the free”. My sister in-law’s father, whose name was Pastor, soon began to miss the intimacy of his Cuban neighborhood. To mitigate this emptiness, Pastor became a frequent visitor at his local Safeway where each day he was met with a smile and a “Hey Pastor!” greeting by the staff. In his later years, Pastor’s daily visit to the Safeway was therapeutic to his loneliness as it served to replace the sense of “community” he so missed from his homeland.
I mention this topic because if we are to grow as a business, we must balance the importance of our community with sound financial decisions. This balancing was clearly evident last week at the first IFC board meeting since electing five new board members at our annual meeting.
We started the meeting by having each of us describe what it meant to be an IFC member. Overwhelmingly, they all agreed that we are more than a place to buy food; the coop represents a unique and rewarding community experience. Just as for Pastor, the simple act of gathering food at the IFC opens an explosion of conversations, ideas, and relationships often missing from modern culture.
We went on from affirming the importance of our community to discuss how to grow sales, which have been flat for over a year. The discussion focused on ways to better market our coop. The enthusiasm and fresh ideas were invigorating, and the board is eager to undertake some new initiatives. These include expanding our trial membership program, creating a chef’s blog with recipes and stories about our foods, and recruiting new producers with unique new products to expand and diversify our product selections.
The topic of adding new products led to a discussion of adjusting our standards on who can sell what products. While pledging to maintain the integrity of our commitment to local products and producers, which we all agreed was a basic value of our community, the board agreed to consider granting variances in special situations to be able to offer popular products that have disappeared from our shopping cart.
We specifically addressed the lack of apples because of this year’s growing season. The board agreed that in cases like this we would consider granting variances if 1) the variance was time limited and 2) the source of the product was identified. We’ve subsequently granted a variance to Iowa Orchard so they could sell apples between now and when next year’s crop arrives from an orchard they rent across the border near LaCrosse, Wisconsin.
I wanted to let you know about this change in our policies so you weren’t surprised. We will continue to try to balance our commitment to the values that make us unique with the realities of running a sound business. Indeed, we feel it can be done, and we believe this year has the potential to be a great one for the IFC.
What can you do? Engage yourself in the most amazing, friendly, healthy community of local food gatherers in the “land of the free”. Shop your IFC, tell your family and friends about us, and help with your time and talent!
Thanks for your time. Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.