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Sarah's Garden: November

It's been quiet around here lately, between the hurricane and the weather getting colder, but I'm still eating the last of the tomatoes and have yet to clean out all the old plants.  I've been reading lots of books about plants and gardening that I would love to share with you after Thanksgiving.  And soon it will be time to start planning next summer's garden!  Stay tuned!

Learn to Home Brew! Sugarplum Porter Workshop with Award-winning Home Brewers Sean and Andy Arsenault

Have you been meaning to get into brewing your own beer but haven't known where to start? Do you brew your own beer and want to mingle with other home brewers? Are you just really into beer and sort of want to know how it's made but really just want to drink some really interesting beer? No matter what your motivation, we've got an event guaranteed to, ahem, generate some buzz. Support the South Philly Food Co-op and sample some heady homebrews at Co-op Brew Day: Home Brewing Workshop with the Brothers Arsenault. On Sat., Dec. 1, from noon till 5 p.m., Sean and Andy Arsenault, winners of Home Sweet Homebrew's Extreme Home Brew Challenge, will lead a workshop in which they demonstrate how to brew a Sugarplum Porter, just the beer to kick of your holiday season. But who are these brothers Arsenault? Andy is a brewer at Downingtown's Victory and a longtime volunteer on the Co-op's Programs and Events committee. Sean is the quintessential beer adventurer, having traveled near and far to sample the world's rich, barley-laden bounty. As no home brew demonstration would be complete without a little liquid refreshment to wash all that learning down, Sean and Andy will be providing to attendees samples of  their previous concoctions. They also encourage fellow home brewers to bring a growler or a sixpack of their own handwork for sharing and feedback. The event will take place at the brothers' home at 732 Clymer St. Tickets are just $15 for members, $20 for non-members, and can be purchased at Eventbrite. And remember: Becoming a member is easy. Why not join right now?

Join us for pizza and a movie this Wednesday 11/14 at Nomad Pizza

South Philly Food Co-op is partnering with Food and Water Watch Pennsylvania for a free screening of Dear Governor Cuomo – part concert documentary and part chronicle of New York's anti-fracking movement. The event takes place at Nomad Pizza - 611 S. 7th Street - at 7PM. Been meaning to join the Co-op? Nomad is offering a FREE MARGHERITA PIZZA to anyone who joins the Co-op on the spot. Current MEMBERS! Bring a few friends who haven't joined yet. The movie follows the efforts by activists in New York – including actors Mark Ruffalo and Melissa Leo, environmental biologist Sandra Steingraber and musicians ranging from Joan Osborne and Citizen Cope to Medeski Martin and Wood and The Felice Brothers – to convince Governor Cuomo to oppose hydraulic fracturing for natural gas. More about the film can be seen here. More info about Food and Water Watch. Pizza! Hanging out with fun people! A movie! Sounds like your Weds night plans are set.

Potato Cauliflower Soup

I've been traveling for work, and staring at hotel carpeting. I don't do a ton of traveling but this past month or so has been exhausting. I spent more time elsewhere than I did here. So I've seen an array of conference center rugs*, but I haven't seen my kitchen. Which means I haven't been cooking, because you know, I've been elsewhere, and that I came home and had no idea what was in the fridge or freezer. So I had to do a serious overhaul/cleanout/accounting for what's what like I did a while back. The magical part of doing that was finding soup in my freezer. Chicken soup and butternut squash soup and potato cauliflower soup. Finding soup in the freezer isn't like finding frozen tofu or leftover pasta sauce. With soup, you're already there. It's dinner. Before I left, I had made up a lot of potato cauliflower soup. I don't find a lot of use for potatoes, and potato soup has a guilt-laden heaviness to it that stems from the clear association between potatoes and saddlebags--an association often forgiven in the face of french fries. Still, somehow soup sounds like I'm pretending. "Oh, it's healthy, it's soup." "No, it's potatoes." But when I found myself with these potatoes, I also found myself with a head of cauliflower. And if there's one thing cauliflower does well**, it's pretending to be a potato. I started with five medium-smallish potatoes, but use what you have. This is so flexible, just adjust your liquid and your spices to accomodate what you have on hand. My potatoes are whatever thin-skinned varieties are grown locally. You could peel them in advance, but I just took the skins off by hand after they had boiled. This requires either patience or asbestos-fingers like I have. I can touch hot things and get away with it. I also had two medium-ish heads of cauliflower, so this is as much cauliflower as potato. I set my quartered potatoes in a pot of water to soften (imagine you're making mashed potatoes) and laid out my cauliflower florets with some garlic (4 cloves) and onion (half a medium white one) on a baking sheet. I hit the veggies with a spritz of olive oil and a dash of salt and pepper, and set them in a 400 degree oven to soften for 30 minutes. Once my potatoes were fork-tender (25 minutes?) I took them out and peeled them by hand. Taters, cauliflower, onions and garlic all went into a pot with enough vegetable stock to just about cover them, and simmered for just a couple of minutes - you want your cauliflower to be tender enough to blend. I used my emulsion blender (but you can use a standard blender, carefully) to blend it until it was soup, adding more stock as needed. I got up to three cups of stock, but this is going to vary based on what you start with and the texture you're after. Season to taste. I added more salt and pepper at this point. And then it's all about customization. Right now, I have a lovely vegan soup. Add chives if you have them, or scallions. If you're doing dairy, add some shredded cheddar. And/or maybe some sour cream. Or go all out and add some bacon. Either way, it's rich and creamy and satisfying.

 This recipe is cross-posted at Saturday’s Mouse, where I’m working on making food out of food.

*See this post on for full analysis of conference center carpets. **Cauliflower does plenty of things well.   Potato Cauliflower Soup The rich goodness of potato soup with fewer calories and some extra vitamins. Ignore all of that and it's still warm and creamy and comforting.  Ingredients
  • 3 cups potatoes, quartered
  • 3 cups cauliflower, in florets
  • 3 cups vegetable stock (unsalted)
  • 1 tablespoon oil (something mild)
  • 1/2 medium onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon (or less, to taste) salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon (to taste) black pepper
Instructions Boil potatoes (peel first if that's easier for you) until fork tender.Roast cauliflower, onion and garlic for half an hour or so at 400 until tender, with some oil and salt and pepper. Add potatoes, cauliflower, onion and garlic to a large pot and add vegetable stock until just about covered. Simmer until soft enough to blend. Blend. Add stock as needed. Season to taste and serve. OPTIONAL: Top with chives or scallions, cheese, sour cream or bacon.  Details Prep time: 5 mins Cook time: 40 mins Total time: 45 mins Yield: 8-10 servings

Timeline for opening now available!

At long last we have posted the graphical representation of our progress timeline on the website. Follow us closely as we move from our current Stage 2A (Feasibility) to Stage 4 (World Domination Opening). We're still on track for a 2014 opening but the only thing that will guarantee that is if we build our member base as quickly as possible. So if you haven't joined yet, do it now. And then get five of your neighbors to join.

Sarah's Garden: Two Years and No Eggplant

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="375"]photo.JPG eggplant flower[/caption] Just a short post to point out that it's been two years that I've planted eggplants from seed and two years with no eggplants to eat.  Both years I've gotten flowers and that's all.  I'm going to try starting them earlier next year since that's all I can think to do.  Any suggestions, fellow eggplant lovers?

Today's the Day! Join us for the Fall General Membership Meeting

It's a big day over here at Co-op headquarters. We're gearing up for tonight's Fall General Membership Meeting, and we hope you can make it — don't forget that you don't have to be a member to attend! We’ll gather at the EOM Athletic Association in Pennsport (on Moore Street between Front and Second; see map for directions) from 6:30 to 7:45 p.m. Arrive early for mingling and pizza-eating starting at 6 p.m. Big thanks to the lovely South Philly establishments that donated pizzas to tonight's meeting: Birra on Passyunk and Morris; Francoluigi's at 13th and Tasker; New York Bakery on 11th and Daily; Pizzeria PESTO, 1900 S. Broad St.; and Isabella Pizza on 1800 E. Passyunk Ave. And don't forget, tonight's meeting is BYOB! On the agenda tonight will be a special Q&A in which we'll brainstorm best practices for answering questions from the Co-op skeptics in your life. (For example, we'll talk about what you should say when your neighbor says, "Why wouldn't I just keep going to the Acme?") To that end, check out this great video on NBC about co-ops and community, and start thinking about how you'd talk about the co-op when the skeptics start asking questions. See you tonight!

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Where the Co-op Falls In The Political Spectrum

Short answer... everywhere. Long answer: On Monday,'s "UnRetiring" blog profiled David Gumpert, former "reporter for publications such as the Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review and Inc. magazine... owner of a publishing company specializing in business content." Gumpert's new passion: advocacy for on food issues. The "hook" issue brought up in this post is about the battle between government regulators and groups of consumers over raw (unpasteurized) milk. Gumpert has also written about "confrontations involving custom slaughtered meat, pastured eggs that don’t necessarily meet all the regulations about refrigeration." For those who are interested, Gumpert's blog is The Complete Patient. He's very much an advocate for the free market and against regulations (sugary drink bans among those that he also opposes) so you may not agree with him about everything. But part of what makes this Co-op effort so interesting is its potential to appeal to people from all across the political spectrum. A free market cheerleader like Gumpert and a raging liberal like me could probably find a lot of common ground over the role individuals should and can play in making decisions about where their food comes from and how it gets to them. In fact, when explaining the Co-op to a friend of mine from Houston (who is about as far to the right as I am to the left) said, "what's not for me to like? It's a group of free citizens coming together to establish an enterprise that will fulfill a perceived need in their community without going to the government for help." (Note to "the government" we'd gladly take your help in the form of a grant here or there.) When he put it that way, I realized something that I sometimes forget... ultimately this Co-op isn't about being "against" anything (corporate food system, conventional agriculture, big agribusiness). It's much more about being FOR community, choice, economic empowerment, and basically having fun with a bunch of really great people (okay, maybe that's "community"). So... liberal, conservative, moderate, or none-of-the-above... join the Co-op. If you're not ready to join right now, come to our fall General Membership meeting to find out what I was talking about when I said "really great people." (And for the record... Pennsylvania law allows for the retail and other sale of raw milk as long as the cows are "certified by department as in good physical health and disease free... and tested for brucellosis and tuberculosis at least once a year." So who knows, maybe a future item at the Co-op?)

The Perks of Being a Member: Half-price admission at Morris Arboretum through Sunday!

This great offer just came through the Facebook pipeline: In appreciation of the sustainable agriculture supported by food co-ops, the Morris Arboretum is offering half-price admission to anyone showing their co-op membership card! Offer good through Sunday, October 28; must show card for discount. More info on Morris' offerings: Spend time with family and friends exploring the Arboretum’s 92-acre lush and colorful gardens. Discover your favorite garden spaces and learn from 13,000 labeled plants, trees and flowers. Sign up for some of the more than 100 classes, educational tours and lectures offered in spring and fall, catering to visitors of all ages. An ever-changing color palette in every season keeps your senses focused on nature. See the forest from a new perspective from 50 feet up in the treetops on the Out on a Limb canopy walk, part of the Arboretum-wide interactive Tree Adventure exhibit. Enjoy events all year long. There’s so much to experience at Morris Arboretum! If you head over on October 28, be sure to check out Bloomfield Farm Day for beekeeping workshops, tours, live music and more. Click here for more information.

Know Before You Go: Check out the minutes from the last General Membership Meeting

In anticipation of next week's Fall General Membership Meeting (October 25, 6:30 p.m., at the EOM Athletic Association; click here for more details), please take a few moments to review the minutes from the Spring General Membership Meeting, held on May 22. Hope to see you on the 25th! South Philly Food Co‐op Spring 2012 General Membership Meeting South Philadelphia Older Adults Center 1430 East Passyunk Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19147 May 22, 2012 Attendance: 63 member households 1. Welcome/Introductions (6:30pm) a. Alison Fritz, Board President welcomes the membership, says we set a steep goal of 250 member households by this meeting, and we made it. The Coop officially reached 250 members on Saturday, and is at 256 as of the start of the meeting. Press release to be sent tomorrow. 2. Election/proposed bylaw changes/voting procedures a. Matt Egger from Leadership Committee reviews voting procedure. Points out that there are 5 people up for election, and proposed bylaws amendments, copies of which are on every table with the changes in bold. Voting will close at 8:00pm, and results will be announced before end of meeting b. Raffling coop mugs and a tote bag‐‐‐everyone who votes will get an entry 3. Approve minutes from October membership meeting a. Maria Camoratto explains minutes from October’s meeting are on table and asks for a vote. Joe Marino makes a motion to approve, Dan Pohlig seconds, motion passes unanimously 4. Committee Updates a. Business Outreach i. Dana Mitchell explains how Business Outreach works, explains businesses can allow for palm cards to be left, hosting events or making donations, gives examples of various businesses that have been partners, including Shop South Philly program that includes 17 local businesses. ii. 2nd round of letters has been sent out to businesses to strengthen connection with local businesses. Dana asks people to come see her for/with more information about business outreach initiatives. b. Grants i. Maria Camoratto give grants update and explains how the committee was formed. ii. To date, we have received a grant from the Howard Bowers Fund for training, we have submitted a proposal to the Philadelphia Activities Fund and a proposal to the Reinvestment Fund is in process. iii. Maria asked for anyone who is interested in helping discuss or write for grants committee to please contact her c. IT i. Erika Owens explains how adhoc IT committee has become standing committee, and describes recent focus on CiviCRM database program that tracks and organizes member information and communication ii. Erika explains exciting opportunity for funding a position for someone who can dedicate time to build the system and asks for people who may be interested in helping out with IT d. Leadership i. Matt Eggers explains how leadership committee works (pulling together ballots, ensuring we are following bylaws with eligibility requirements) ii. Leadership could use help before next meeting to help with the nomination and ballot process e. Legal i. Josh Richards explains how adhoc Legal committee meets only when needed ii. Josh is currently the only person serving on the committee, asks if anyone interested in getting involved to talk to him, explains upcoming events that may require help. f. Marketing and Communications i. Dan Pohlig explains that the role of committee is reaching out to membership and public at large, maintaining consistency in voice and messaging ii. Dan describes the efforts around the redesign of website and print materials, outreach to press for local PR, and that these initiatives have helped get coverage without needing to spend coop funds iii. M & C is looking for anyone with experience in writing to get involved. The next meeting is scheduled for next week and anyone interested should talk to him or Stephanie Rupertus (current chair) for more information iv. Explains how important it is to get the word out about the coop g. Membership i. Cassie Plummer explains how the coop tracks membership and where members come from, explaining that 40% of new members since January 2012 were on our mailing list in December. ii. Describes how committee tracks membership data (equity, volunteer hours) and needs help with data collection and processing memberships, see Cassie if you want to help. iii. Committee also is in charge of volunteer hours. Current volunteer coordinators are stepping down, and now we have new committee members to help manage volunteer activity. iv. Member orientation training will be happening over the next few months, looking for hosts of 1020 members for the training on how to talk about the coop and help recruit new members. Contact Cassie for more details or to help out. h. Programs and Events/Speakers Bureau i. Sarah Radcliffe explains responsibilities of committee—recruit members, raise money and build membership community ii. Explains how committee meets monthly and brainstorm events and gives examples of events like mushroom log, container garden workshops and gives ideas for future events like home brewing and soup swap iii. There will be upcoming events—Spirit Night at Rita’s on May 31st, table at Fleischer ArtSpiration Event, Gold Star Park in July and August, Garden Tour on September 8th iv. To help out, contact Sarah or Leigh Goldenberg (chair) 5. FY 12 budget recap a. Jay Tarlecki explains Fiscal Year 2012 budget summary and that 100% of the equity collected to date is restricted is for costs directly related to opening the coop 6. Market Study from Keystone Development Center a. Rachel Brennesholtz describes the Keystone Development Center Feasibility Study b. Keystone completed a Primary Trade Area Analysis looking at our competitors, conducted community and member Focus Groups, and analyzed food spending in the PTA. The PTA is includes South Philadelphia from South Street to Oregon and Front to Broad Street. West of Broad in included in the PTA but it is a more jagged boundary and not all census tracks are included. Two census tracks were used in the analysis (2000 and 2010) because 2010 data was not always available during the project timeline. c. Rachel explains demographics throughout the PTA, and then reports the description of the average person who shops for organic and/or natural foods based on national data trends. She went into depth comparing the coop’s PTA to national data (household size, education, income, home prices), discussing competing grocery stores, and explaining that the PTA is not a “food desert” d. Review of food sources in South Philly and competitors e. Explains results of focus groups and the main themes from the groups (price, label and choice fatigue, diversity of members, local food) f. Overview of market potential based on food spending in Philadelphia g. Explanation of Keystone recommendations and summary—be cautious moving forward because real estate and parking availability in the PTA are a concern, but there is room for optimism because of strong membership commitment, changing demographics in the PTA, and shopping behaviors among members and in the PTA generally. h. Main take away: “Proceed, but with caution. Finding an appropriate location will be difficult.” 7. Timeline and proposed budget a. Julia Koprak and Alison Fritz from Operations Committee and the Board present the timeline: where we’ve been, where we’re going b. Explanation of timeline’s organization is based on the 4 Cornerstones (Vision, Talent, Capital, Systems) in 3 Stages from CDS Consulting Coop (Cooperative Development Services) c. Large format of the full timeline was available to membership on back wall of meeting room d. Explanation of Stage 1 – Organizing and explanation of Time Frame, Membership Target and Key Decision Points e. Overview of Stage 1 accomplishments (membership drive, Garden Tour, Shop South Philly) f. Overview of Stage 2a—Feasibility i. Explanation of membership target and key decision for moving on to next stage. ii. I stage 2A we will begin working on: Business plan, real estate committee, continued feasibility assessment. Coops build their market base first (democratic association of people, i.e. membership), and then develop the sustainable enterprise that meets their needs, a different business model and structure than most people are used to. iii. The Coop must make sure that internal systems and infrastructure can keep up with growing membership before we can move to stage 2b. g. Overview of Stage 2b—Planning i. formalizing business plan, secured site with contingencies in Stage 2b h. Overview of future stages and membership goals for each stage i. Overview of other steps ahead i. Member loan campaign, site analysis, external financing, signing a lease, hiring general manager when confident of financing, continued membership recruitment j. Operation Committee needs volunteers with business expertise to help with future stages k. Anna Kisiel, member of the Operations Committee, presents the Sources and Uses budget i. Key assumptions: 2,500 sq ft store retail space, and that we will lease the location ii. Overview of startup costs presented in a table—estimated total of $1.2 to $1.5M for startup iii. Numbers based on store size and comparison with other coop expenses iv. Overview of potential sources include member equity, bank loans, member loans, city/community organizations, preferred shares, investors, preselling and others v. Operations Committee needs help with future fundraising and plans for raising equity, as well as putting together a comprehensive financing plan. l. Alison Fritz gives an overview of “How do we get there?” i. Challenges everyone in the room to get someone to join the coop, give money, help fundraise at events and raffles, ii. Alison explains that the coop hasn’t touched any member equity to date and our fundraising events and initiatives help make that possible iii. The coop needs more member involvement through the next phases— background or experience is not important, the coop needs people willing to give time and energy, and willing to learn. iv. By working together and learning together is how we have gotten this far and how we will move forward 8. Q & A Alison Fritz opens for questions at 7:45pm with Josh Richards (Board member) moderating. Questions: a. What is behind the numbers for membership milestones at each stage of development? i. Numbers based on common CDS benchmarks and ‘best case practices’ learned from other coops b. How many shoppers will be needed in a month for store to stay afloat? i. Rachel Brennesholtz answers that $135,000/mo in revenue would be needed to stay open ii. John Raezer explains that store will be open to nonmembers, but financial assumptions are based on only members shopping iii. Cassie Plummer explains that the more members the coop has, the more sources the coop has to rely on so it doesn’t need as much outside financing iv. Joe Marino explains that the more members we have, the more likely we will be to get financing v. Anna Kisiel explains that once the business grows, more people will see that coop is something they might want to join. c. How is planning of coop being coordinated with other city planning programs? i. Josh Richards explains we are in touch with civics ii. Alison Fritz explains that PTA is too big right now to pin down a specific area to build those kinds of partnerships‐‐‐‐coming in next stage d. How is building diversity of membership built into the plan? i. Alison Fritz describes civic outreach from river to river and grant proposals for translating materials into other languages, partnering with local churches, etc. She asks for those with connections to any of these groups to let her know. ii. Josh Richards says that we’re always at local tabled events, and Alison Fritz asks for any ideas or events where the coop should be iii. Dan Pohlig says most outreach has been based on free marketing and asks for help reaching other communities and those not digitally connected iv. Josh Richards explains that once we have a physical location in mind, it will be easier to reach out to local community e. How will real estate committee be formed? i. Josh Richards explains that real estate committee is directed by the Board and will persist even after location is found 9. Present election results (8:30pm) a. Matt Eggers announces that all Board candidates were elected to the Board and all proposed bylaw amendments were passed. Election Results (submitted via email May 25, 2012) Ballots issued: 54 Votes for AtLarge Directors: • Alison Fritz 54 • Anna Shipp 53 • Jay Tarlecki 54 • Josh Richards 53 • Julia Koprak 54 Votes for bylaw amendments: • 4.5 Voting Rights of Members – 54 • 4.7 Decision Making – 54 • 5.4 Elections 54 10% of members were needed for a quorum. A majority of votes was required to pass each amendment and elect each director. Accordingly, all candidates were elected and all proposed amendments were passed. 10. Adjourn (8:15pm)