By Scott Hess, Council President, and Kari Bradley, GM
Photo: Richardson Photography
Thank you very much to all of members and staff who attended our Co-op’s annual meeting on November 1, or watched it live thanks to ORCA Media. It was wonderful to see a great turnout (roughly 200 in person this year) and share an evening with so many people who share our passion for great food, personal connection and cooperation. For those who couldn’t be there, we missed you, you missed a lovely meal and you can watch ORCA’s broadcast of the meeting here, view photos of the event here, or read the draft minutes here.
A highlight of the night was certainly our guest speaker Phillip Ackerman-Leist, Professor of Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems at Green Mountain College. Phillip was engaging and informative in sharing his work in Mals, Italy, which voted to ban all pesticides after years of toxic agriculture. Employing an impressive multimedia presentation, Phillip transported us to scenic and remote parts of the Alps while connecting to our shared values of sustainable agriculture, community and cooperation.
After Phillip’s presentation, we provided our year-end reports on the state of our co-op. There are many positive highlights to celebrate:
- The number of Co-op member-owners grew another 7% to 9146 over the past year.
- At year-end, we had 166 employees with all earning at least the Vermont Livable Wage and 91 participating in the Co-op’s retirement plan.
- We purchased $8.2 million in goods and services from our 491 Vermont vendors.
- We sold $1.3 million of co-op-made products and have $474,000 invested in other cooperatives.
- The Co-op had a 10% decrease in CO2 emissions from the year prior.
- While sales grew only 2% over the prior year, the Co-op is nonetheless on solid financial footing with healthy level of liquidity and over $3.8 million in total equity.
Kari also provided updates on the member discount process (you can read about our next steps here), last year’s employee survey and our product standards. There was time for comments and questions with a lot of interest in bags and plastic use at the Co-op.
Matt Levin announced the recipients of this year’s Hunger Mountain Cooperative Community Fund grant awards. Congratulations to Ananda Gardens, Another Way Community Center, Capstone Community Action, Good Samaritan Haven, Salvation Farms, Steadyfoot Farm, and Twin Valley Senior Center and thank you for your work in bettering our community and local food system.
We also thanked outgoing Council members José Aguayo, Lydia Busler and Carl Etnier; we appreciate your service and wish you well. We welcome Eva Schectman and Jess Knapp to this year’s Council and are looking forward to a productive year.
Thank you to the many people who made the meeting a success including the many businesses who donated food, supplies and raffle prizes. Thank you to all the employees including our prepared foods and community relation teams who put on a great meeting. And thank you to everyone who supports our co-op and helps us to make a positive impact in so many ways. Together we are making a difference in the world.