Tag: producers

President’s Blog – The Joy of Shopping!

By Pete Woltz, IFC Board President

A big THANKS to all who shopped and provided product at the Coop in January.  It appears we are on track, once again, to meet our projections!  Sometimes I ask myself, how is this modest success possible in this world of ever increasing competition for our member’s food dollar?

Here is why we shop.  Each weekday morning my wife, Cindy, and I wake up to news reports describing chaos in the world.  We hear warnings, criticisms, and insults from local news shows, CNN, MSNBC , and the like.  On Saturday mornings, however, we wake up to a different view of the world.  We watch Bob Ross reruns of “The Joy of Painting” on PBS.

Bob passed away in 1995 but his unique style of painting and “therapy for the weary” lives on through reruns.   He describes the world he creates on canvas while he paints:

  • “You can do anything you want to do. This is your world”
  • “We don’t make mistakes, we just have happy accidents”
  • “You can put as many or as few as you want in your world”
  • “There’s nothing wrong with having a tree as a friend”
  • “Talk to the tree, make friends with it”
  • “Maybe in our world there lives a happy little tree over there”


Why is this relevant?  It is because “The Joy of Painting” reruns give Cindy and I the same sensation that we get from shopping at the Coop.  In this world of breaking news, convenience stores, and 140 word tweets, shopping the Coop is our food gathering therapy.  Shopping the Coop allows us to calmly plan our meals, on our own time, from the hundreds of listed Coop products.  We enjoy reading about the “happy worlds” of those who produced our meals.  In our world, this sure beats grabbing a quick meal from the deli! 

The Coop is “Slow Shopping” at its best.    What are your reasons for shopping the Coop?   

Now we all have the opportunity to share our “Coop” experience with more kindred souls in our community.   Kelly Tagtow, Lisa Bean,  Loulou Dickey, and Gary Huber have developed a program which offers free 90 day trial memberships to people belonging to selected clubs, businesses, or organizations.  We could use your assistance by helping us to identify qualifying groups then distributing our literature.   Help us spread “The Joy of Shopping”.  Comment on this blog or email Gary at gary@iowafood.coop with your ideas for Trial Membership groups.

IFC President’s Blog – Holy Rutabagas!

By Pete Woltz, IFC Board President

On behalf of the Board and all of the IFC producers, I would like to THANK everyone who purchased products during our December cycles.  Give yourselves a hearty round of applause.  Your coop exceeded its budgeted revenue by nearly 20% and realized one of the IFC’s best months ever!  

Contributing to the surge was a large listing of nearly 1100 products.   Producers, please take a bow for providing a remarkably wide range of products for a winter month.   In addition to our staple of delicious baked goods, home grown meats, eggs, and cheese, we continued to see fall favorites like Swiss chard, kale, spinach, potatoes, carrots, apples, and rutabagas.   New products included pasta and artisan bacon.  Really, IFC producers are the greatest! 

Board News

The Board met December 17th and was introduced to our new IFC home page.  Slideshow graphics and bulleted features are designed to more clearly demonstrate the IFC experience to first time visitors.  This is important because Kelly Tagtow and the Marketing committee are launching a ‘Trial Membership’ campaign in select locations such as health clubs, restaurants, and churches.  We anticipate many new visitors to our site in the near future.

Keep an eye on the new products in the upcoming months.  The Producers committee chairwoman, Shanen Ebersole, is aggressively reaching out to area producers offering unique products.  Is there a product you would like to see listed?  Let us know at info@iowafood.coop.

The one thing we all have in common as members of the IFC is a passion for food.   We love to eat the area’s best locally grown foods and we love to COOK the area’s best locally grown foods.   It only stands to reason, then, that among our ranks are some really good chefs.  Lisa Bean is on a crusade, as chairwoman of the Consumers committee, to expose our membership’s culinary expertise in the form of a Chef’s Blog.  Do you have a favorite recipe?   Let us know at info@iowafood.coop.

What would a first board meeting be without a group picture?

From left to right are Lisa Bean, Carrie Cook, Dan Beougher, Shanen Ebersole, Pete Woltz and,  Joe Monahan.  Not shown are Kelly Tagtow and Carrie Williams

The new board officers include myself as President, Shanen Ebersole as VP of Producers, Lisa Bean as VP of Consumers, Carrie Cook as Treasurer, Carrie Williams as Secretary, and Kelly Tagtow as VP of Marketing.

Shop the IFC!

Let’s go for another record month in January.  Treat yourself to the best local food on the planet.  The cart is open.

Pete Woltz


IFC President’s Blog

Pete & Cindy Woltz

Pete and Cindy Woltz at the Farmer’s Market

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 peter.woltz@timberridgecattle.com.

Fresh greens, ground flour, wheatgrass…it’s March at the IFC!

The Iowa Food Cooperative – central Iowa’s year-round source for local food – has opened its shopping cart for the next cycle.

  • Cart Opens: March 8, 2012
  • Cart Closes: March 17, 2012
  • Pick-up: March 22, 2012


Choose from over 880 different products from over 40 different Iowa producers.


    • Olson Family Farm is a new producer-owner from near Madrid that has listed extra large and jumbo brown eggs for the first time this cycle.
    • Wildwood Farms added fresh salsa (it’s under Prepared Foods-Refrigerated/Frozen)

      Fresh Salsa - Medium Hot

    • Iowa Orchard added 1) frozen pies (in Desserts under Prepared Foods-Refrigerated/Frozen), 2) apple nut, peach, and blueberry coffee cake (in Cake under Baked Goods, 3) apple, cherry, and peach crisps (fresh in Crisps under Baked Goods, frozen in Desserts under Prepared Foods-Refrigerated/Frozen), and 4) dried fruits (in Prepared Foods/Non-Refrigerated).
    • Grandma’s Soap added pastel & natural color spring egg baskets($7.00 each/3 eggs – just in time for Easter!)

      Soap - Spring Basket, Pastel Colors

    • Krieger Greenhouses is back this cycle with twelve different fresh bagged herbs,trays of live wheatgrass, and a selection of herb gardens.
    • SalAmander Farms added Marjoram and Sage herb transplants (both can take light frost after they are hardened off, or you can keep them in their plantable paper pots until your ready).
    • Hedgeapple Farm has split their business in two by moving their fiber products into a new producer identify, which is Hedgeapple Fiber Studio.
    • The Berry Patch added 4 to 8″ tall basil plants in 4.5″ pots (to put in your window for your own FRESH basil).
    • Early Morning Harvest added various ground grain and flour products (two-grain cereal, corn flour, corn grits, general purpose flour, wheat cereal), plus a bagged lettuce mix to go along with their lettuce bouquets.
    • Pure Native added Grain-Free Peanut Butter Cookies (“I’m getting rave reviews on these”) and Snickerdoodle Muffins.
    • Foxhollow Farmadded duck and goose eggs, plus heritage chicks (to be picked up at their farm near Elkhart) and fertilized heritage-breed eggs (for hatching at home).

      Heritage chicks and fertilized eggs


To shop use https://iowafood.coop/shop/ and type in your username and password to log in. If you need help with your username and password, please send an email to info@iowafood.coop

About the cooperative – https://iowafood.coop/

Iowa Food Coop Open House!!

Come and join us for our holiday Open House!

We are hosting some of our best Producers in an open house celebration at our pick up site in Merle Hay Mall!

December 4, beginning at 11am our fabulous producers will be giving away samples of their products.  Meet the fine folks from Wild Rose Pastures, Grandma’s Soap, Griffieon’s Family Farm, Ebersole Cattle Co., Wheat Grass To Go, Wagner Enterprises, Raccoon Forks Farm, Hedgeapple Farm, Anna’s Place Poultry Products, Two Cedars Weaving just to name a few!  Meats, fall veggies, soap, poinsettias, baked goods, candy and much much more will be available for purchase too.

If you have family or friends who are still undecided, this would be a good time for them to sample what the coop has to offer before joining.  If there was something YOU wanted to try before buying this is a good opportunity for you too.  I’m not kidding, Ebersole’s jerky AND beef sticks are out of this world!  Wagner Enterprises caramels are a delicious treat, and don’t you deserve that after all that Christmas shopping?

So come out to our pickup site at Merle Hay Mall, its located on the southside, just inside the doors across from the parking garage, we are next to the Post Office. We will be sampling from 11am to 4pm, and gift memberships will be available too! 

See you there!


What is your favorite?

When I joined the Coop last year, all that was available made it difficult to make those first choices.  Whose eggs?  Which bacon?  So I just dived right in and chose producers with pretty names.   Of course, now I realize there really isnt a bad choice to make, they are all good!

But my first choice on my first order was the one that sealed my loyalty to the Coop.  The eggs.  Anna’s jumbo eggs to be exact.  I realized after cooking those first two eggs that I had never really had good eggs before.  Those eggs were so good, they didn’t even need salt and pepper, or toast, or even bacon.  They were so good they had to eaten alone to savor every bite.

Of course, over the last year and a half, I have ordered many items that have become favorites, Griffieon smoked ham hocks, anything from Homestead, (especially the seedlings, only ones to survive this year in my garden!), La Ventosa chicken, Tesdale garlic, Huber carrots, well you get the picture.

So what are your favorites?  Must haves?  What things do you stay up until 1 am, waiting for the shopping cart to open so you can get it before anyone else?

Dirty laundry…

This last cycle, several orders of laundry liquid and laundry powder crossed my cashier table.  Many of the consumers had never used homemade laundry soap, and wondered how well would it clean?

I have in the past made my own laundry powder and was quite pleased with the results.  My clothes were clean, I mean really clean.  No perfumy residual odor, and more so than that they felt clean.  My towels seemed more absorbent, plus more lint, and I’m embarrassed to say, cat hair wound up in my lint trap.

I emailed Kelly of Grandma’s Soap and was pleasantly surprised with the information she sent me regarding her soaps.  They are free of dyes and perfumes which can not only aggravate your skin but its safer for our lakes and streams.  She is also the sixth generation of her family to use this same recipe.  She puts alot of care and integrity into her product, each soap is cured 6 month or more, she will sell no soap before its time! 

As Kelly says “It is simple, basic and pure”.  Her liquid laundry detergent is low sudsing so its ideal for HE washing machines. 

She also offers an exceptional deal in her Sample gift set #1513, you receive a sample of the liquid laundry detergent and old fashioned soap, so if you are hesitant to commit to a gallon, at least try the sample set. 

If you want to wow and impress just about everybody,  get a Make Your Own kit #1368.  You will receive the instructions and materials to make 3 gallons of your own liquid detergent, how cool is that? Add a bar of Grandma’s Old Fashioned Soap #1365, and that is a cool green gift!

Tips for using Grandma’s Liquid Laundry Soap #1367

A cup of vinegar added to the wash will whiten clothes and eliminate odors and bacteria.

Soaking clothes in lemon water prior to washing will naturally whiten them.

A moistened bar of Grandma’s Soap makes a great pre-wash stain stick.

If you would like to see Kelly and her mom of Grandma’s Soap, they are demonstrating at the following dates:

Sept 18-19: Farmer Days, Center Grove Orchard, Cambridge, Iowa

October 2:  Country Celebration at Center Grove Orchard, Cambridge, Iowa

October 3:  Artist Bazaar at Snus Hill Winery, Madrid, Iowa

October 8-9:  Osborne Heritage Days, Clayton Country Observation Center, Elkader, Iowa

Karla of Heart of Iowa Soapworks also offers  a great laundry detergent in a powder form.  As with the liquid soap, its all handmade, even down to the bar soap she grates to make the mixture.  Its compact profile and low sudsing formula makes this a no brainer for your laundry room.  Karla also indicates that a Stain Stick is coming soon, so keep your eye out for that! 

Karla tells me that she has not tested her soap on delicate items, so if in doubt, she says don’t use it, take them to a professional cleaner.  But it does do an exceptional job on towels, bed linens, jeans and your regular laundry.  The powdered detergent comes unscented, but can also be purchased in a lavender scent #1168.

As with all of Heart of Iowa products, you can be sure of the love and care put into your soap!

Tips for using Heart of Iowa Powdered Laundry Soap #1167

 Turn the washer on and run some water in the botton.  Add 2 heaping TBSP of the soap and swish it around to dissolve.  Add clothes.

If  its a heavy load, like towels, do a double rinse.  Also add a big cupful of  white vinegar to your rinsewater.  Towels seem to like to hold more soap than other items.

For really stinky, grimy clothes, add an extra TBSP of the laundry mix and 2 cups of white vinegar.  Letting the clothes soak for a while before agitation helps too.

For white clothes, Karla uses a bleach alternative or regular bleach for a little boost.

I hope this answers any questions you have about using the homemade laundry detergent.  Both Kelly and Karla are happy to answer any other questions you have, and truly, their products are of exceptional quality.

Happy Washing!

A Word About Winter

This last month I exchanged some e-mails with our producers regarding the toll this winter had on them and their operations. Michelle Heater was able to get some, but not all of the responses in the March Newsletter. So I thought what a perfect item for the first blog post on the new website for the Iowa Food Cooperative!

Sophie Ryan sent word from Horsefeather Farm:

With all the snow we had this winter we did as much indoor activities as possible like catching up with paperwork (still not done, will I ever be ?), going to workshops (PFI and Moses Organic Conference in WI), enjoying ‘webinars’ and movies (thanks to Netflix!) and doing some french folk-dancing with friends, making cheese (great Camembert , cream cheese and cheddar), homemade summer sausage….

We worked a little more on our part time job with the post office and had to enjoy plowing through snowy roads with a little 4WD. We got drifted in quite a few times but who needs to go to the store to get milk when you have your own cow at home!

Draft horses doing some logging.

Draft horses doing some logging.

Kevin did take the time to enjoy his team of draft horses and hitched them to go on sleigh rides and do some logging. He was pretty excited to try a different way to hitch the horses, one in front of the other instead of side by side (requires special attachments with pulleys) and the horses had to learn to stay in line instead of being side by side. Worked a little better when they got tired!! So that way he was able to drag out logs from places hard to get to with a wagon, bring them by the house and then cut them up and stack them. Nice Job.

Now all the snow is melted and we are waiting for the warm weather to uncover our potted peonies and then back to serious work.


I also heard from Jean Weisshaar of  Weisshaar Family Farm:

This winter was definitely a hard one. With so much snow and the fact that it came early really challenged us with feeding all the cows & calves. Usually you put them out on the corn stock field after harvest, and this will feed them for quite some time. The snow covered all the food and we had to start feeding them with hay and corn stock bales. We have had to purchase quite a few of both to keep the heard fed & healthy.

The mud is always a bummer as it is difficult to get around on foot and in the tractor. Pregnant cows have an especially hard time negotiating the mud. Most cattle producers calve from mid February through the end of march, but fortunately we pushed our calving season back to May & June, so hopefully it will not be as wet.
It is hard to tell what planting season will be like, it is much too early.

Jean Weisshaar
Weisshaar Family Farm