Dear Friends of the Dorchester Community Food Co-op Initiative:
Happy summer! Plans for building a Food Co-op in Dorchester are progressing. Here is what has been happening, and some ways you can get involved:
On June 30th, we had a very successful “Co-op Ambassador Training” session at the Codman Square Library. More than 25 people attended, and there were many new faces with lots of enthusiasm for the project.
The Dorchester Farmers Markets are in full swing right now with lots of fresh bounty from local farms. We have been attending the markets, passing out a flier with information about the Food Co-op, and collecting names of new people interested in the project. Our flier has now been translated into Vietnamese, and is being translated into Cape Verdean Creole and Portuguese. Is there anyone who can volunteer to translate the co-op flier into Haitian Creole or Spanish? Let me know. The English and Vietnamese fliers are attached.
We wrote a grant proposal to sponsor a Winter Farmers Market in Dorchester from January-March of 2012. We will continue to work on the feasibility of running this project as a step toward building the permanent Food Co-op brick and mortar store, as a way of continuing to build on the success of the neighborhood summer Farmers markets, and as a further step in bringing farm fresh healthy food to Dorchester throughout the year. Let us know if this is a project you would like to work on!
I will be writing a preliminary business plan over the next month. The business plan will be a template that we can use in exploring partnerships with developers, and we can begin to test out our models and work on a feasibility study. We will be creating a Team structure for the development of the Co-op as part of that plan.
The “Site Search and Facilities Planning Team” has started to meet, and visited two possible locations: one off of Quincy Street and one in Lower Mills. There are also two developments that are going to be built by local CDCs in the Four Corners neighborhood that will have commercial space, and have some exciting possibilities for partnering with the Co-op. We will continue to meet with these potential partners while exploring any other opportunities we hear about. If you know of a vacant lot, empty building or other possible location, let us know! A location in the center of Dorchester would be ideal, and we are looking for 5,000-10,000 square feet of retail space with parking options. To get involved with the site search or to send in an idea, contact Ben Sommer at firstname.lastname@example.org. (please put att: Ben Site Team in the subject line)
We are starting to develop a Co-op Structure and Program Development Team. We hope to make preliminary Co-op structure decisions soon so that we can incorporate and begin selling member equity shares. Our goal is to have 200 members signed up by the end of the year. The team will then be working on the programs that will be offered through the Co-op. If you are interested in working on the Co-op structure and programs, contact Jhana Senxian at email@example.com. (Please put att: Jhana Structure Team in the subject line)
We continue to generate interest among the many city agencies and community partners that are interested in neighborhood development, food security, local food and agriculture and co-op development. Some of the organizations we have been talking with recently are the Boston Architectural College Gateway Initiative, Revision House Farm, Office of the Mayor: Food Initiatives, Codman Square NDC and Dorchester Bay EDC, and Boston Natural Area Network. We appreciate the ongoing staff support from the Dorchester Environmental Health Coalition. If you know of or work for an organization that might be interested in working with us, let us know!
Finally, our most exciting task is to continue to do outreach to the community and to hear from Dorchester residents about what they would like to see in a Food Co-op. We will be holding a Pot Luck Dinner and general get together at 6pm on Thursday, August 25 at the Nightingale Community Garden—the beautiful new Urban Garden recently renovated by the Boston Natural Area Network near the corner of Park St. and Washington St. in Dorchester. The garden is alive with activity, and is a model for creating a space that brings together the full diversity of Dorchester residents. Please come and bring friends and neighbors who are interested in a Food Co-op in Dorchester!
Social Media is all the rage these days! Check out our Facebook page: Please “Like” it and invite your friends to “like” it as well. Help spread the word!
Want to get more involved? We need you! Send me an email and let me know your area of interest, skills you can offer, contacts you may have. Set up a house party for your friends and neighbors to talk about the coop—we will come! Invite us to your neighborhood meeting. Feel free to forward this email to anyone who might be interested in helping to start a Food Coo-p in Dorchester.
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