June Member-Owner of the Month: Hanif Nazerali

Our member-owners are part of a collaborative effort that creates numerous positive impacts for our community, both near and far. The Co-op would not be successful without the support and involvement of our nearly 9,300 members, including those who shop here, round up at the register, bring reusable bags, serve on committees, and volunteer at events.

Recognizing a member-owner of the month is just one of the ways we say thank you to those members who have been such an important part of everything we do. This month, we recognize Hanif Nazerali, who relocated to Montpelier in 2017 after 15 years living and working in East Africa, with his partner and two daughters. A UK citizen and permanent resident, he was schooled and previously lived in London, close to a food co-op there. You can often find him at our co-op and volunteering at our events such as Truckload Sale.

1)    How long have you been a member-owner? 

I’m a relatively new member, initially living very close by on Barre Street, convenient for shopping at the Co-op. That said, I still shop regularly at the Co-op, enjoying the walk along Stonecutters from State Street. Attending my first Annual Meeting, I became aware of the tension between members and the current Co-op management regarding vision and long term plans, including expansion. I was impressed with how members voiced their concerns, and with the institutional memory provided by ‘pioneer members’ dating from the inception of the Co-op, who are still engaged. I believe this to be a critical time in the history of the Co-op, and hope that the Council will bridge any divide, and management will be responsive and act on the concerns of members. I believe the Co-op should enable meaningful engagement with members and local vendors; and sustain the ethos of service to a broad and diverse community in the catchment of Montpelier and its environs.  

2)    What is something you love about your Co-op?

I am a working member, and would recommend others participate in this program. I was also connected – through the  Co-op’s community service efforts – to Community Harvest of Central Vermont, and continue my involvement, ‘gleaning’ from local farmers’ fields, greenhouses, and in the farmers market. I also find the Co-op’s program of educational workshops and sponsored meetings useful and interesting for newcomers who are open to learning more about community resources, and hearing from the wealth of practitioners/community resource providers. A single workshop on ‘chi running’ dramatically changed my style/enhanced my running experience. 

3)    What are your favorite products? 

Typically my shopping trip at the Co-op will include farm fresh foods from the produce section, where I favor seasonal/from within a 100-mile radius, as well as the bulk section, where I find my essentials including varieties of rice and grains, steel cut oats, and always some loose tea and freshly ground coffee. Also, the cheese and deli counter for local products not easily found elsewhere. Lastly, I’ll pass through the health and wellness aisle that offers ethically sourced herbal preparations and access to small scale production and innovative enterprise that is so much in the Vermont tradition. It’s hard to resist one of the farmstead cheeses, a craft brew, and the delicious desserts in the cooler next to the deli. Sample the cheesecake, but with this caution – it will likely go on the regular shopping list. The Laughing Moon dark with chipotle and cinnamon is my current favorite treat from the chocolate section, placed (far too) close to the check-out!