Thursday, June 9, 2011

Iowa Valley Food Cooperative and Simple Lives Thursday

Today I'd like to tell you about an organization in the Iowa City/Cedar Rapids area that I've been involved in planning and I think you're going to find very interesting:  The Iowa Valley Food Cooperative. I've been working for the last few months to help get this project off the ground, and am a producer member myself.  First I'll explain the Co-op itself, and then summarize why it's so useful for me and you. 
What? IVFC is a cooperatively owned web-based operation that connects producer member/owners directly to consumer member/owners that operates year-round

How? Through its website, the IVFC allows producers to list their products, and consumers to order exactly the amount of product they'd like to buy each cycle and pay online or later at distribution day.  (For now, cycles will be monthly. In the future, they may become weekly.)  Once each cycle, producers and consumers meet at the distribution location to exchange goods. 

Who?  Consumer members may be anyone who is willing to pay the $25 refundable  membership fee and annual $10 fee.  Producer members must be located in Iowa and sell products they grow or process locally, as outlined in the producer guidelines.  A list of current producers includes 
cheese from Acoustic Farms, Brenneman Farms, and Frisian Farms
veggies from Echollective Farm, Pheasant Run Farm, Matthew 25, and Little Red Barn
beef from Ebersole Cattle Co and Rapid Creek Ranch
heritage pork from Heritage Breeds Meats
goat meat from Frog Hollow Farm
wine from Cedar Ridge Vineyards
and baked goods from yours truly, Rosie's Best

Where? For now, we're distributing food in the Iowa City/Cedar Rapids area.  Our distribution location will be First Presbyterian across from Greene Square Park in Cedar Rapids.

When?  The Co-op will operate year-round, and our first distribution date will be August 17.

Why?  From the website:
"After realizing the pent up demand in this region for sustainably produced, local food – food produced with sound environmental practices, fair economic relationships, and concern for social impact, Jesse and Jason wanted to study this demand. They demonstrated this demand in the results of a consumer survey conducted in November 2009, during a joint project with a University of Iowa student group from the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center. Almost 70 percent of survey respondents indicated that they were extremely or very likely to participate in a buying club cooperative linking consumers directly with local farmers. Other surveys, the growth of local CSA’s and Farmer’s Markets, and anecdotal information from local producers and sales outlets confirmed this demand for the Iowa Valley Food Cooperative."

In short, I'm excited to be a consumer member of the IVFC so that I can buy fresh local foods all year without paying the grocery store, so more of my money goes directly to the producers.  I'm especially excited to be a producer member because the monthly online ordering is perfect for my products, and the website and distribution day give my customers a chance to meet me and get to know me and my product.  Finally, I think it's an excellent way for us to increase the strength of our local food system.  We are lucky to have as many options for local foods as we do in Iowa, and anything that increases their visibility and accessibility will benefit us all.

Please feel free to email me (culinarybliss AT gmail.) if you have any questions, and if you'd like to sign up for the cooperative, visit the website here.

Now for this week's Simple Lives Thursday!  Last week's favorites are under the jump, along with this week's linky.  Check it out!
Remember we host:
Annette at Sustainable Eats  

Featured Posts from Last Week's Submissions

The posts from last week that really caught our eyes are... (thanks everyone for the great submissions, as always!)

1. Cheddar Cheese in a Homemade Cheese Press by Prairie Sunrise. We admire Marg's resourcefulness in building her own cheese press and embarking on the cheese making journey.

2. Our Summer Manifesto: Learn to Live Without Grid Electricity by Nourishing Days. Shannon's family will be living off-grid and without running water before too long. To prepare, they're making the adjustment before leaving their current home. This is a journey we look forward to watching and learning from!

3. Fruit in the City, Part 2 by the Des Moines Frugal Family Examiner. An astounding amount of food planted for ornamental reasons goes to waste every year. Gleaning helps line your pantry and solves mess and pest problems associated with unharvested fruit.

4. Homemade "Magic" Shell by The Purposed Heart. This looks like a nourishing treat for a hot summer's day!

5. Which Saves the Most Money –- Dehydrating, Freezing or Canning? by Whole New Mom. This comparison of preserving methods is very informative and will help anyone sort through the cost benefits of different food preservation and storage methods.

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