The dynamics of our co-op may change--people may come and go, policies and structure may evolve--but the one given you can always rely on is that the strong heart of this co-op will always remain. Steady, caring, fulfilling, and meaningful--our crew is pretty spot on. We are a diverse group of folks that have multiple talents in multiple fields. Our common connection has always been our shared values and goals. We each belong here because we believe. I want to have T-shirts made that say " I believe!", and you can only wear one if you truly get it. It takes a lot to believe.
I believe one person can make a difference. One person, along with another person, can create an idea to make an impact. A group of twenty can change our local food system.
I believed the second I drove down the dusty road and saw four attractive guys on top of a structure that would eventually turn into the store. Granted, it was 85 degrees that day, but seeing a couple of perspiring construction men working hard, can make any girl blush.
Fast forward seven months and the road is paved, the store is shining bright in the late November night, and I felt nothing but pride and happiness. We did it! We had put the whole store together in a matter of days and now it was only hours before opening day.
That saying "You've come a long way, baby" rings true for our sweet on-farm grocery store. The product mix has grown, the producer membership has expanded, and the prepared foods is finally where it should be--thriving. This store holds a special place in my heart. Where else can you have a full diet shopping experience and know that the produce was literally harvested just yards away that day. I beam with pride as I see our farmers out the window. Many of you have been pulled over to the window (multiple times) as I exclaimed "I love our farmers!". For the past seven seasons, I have been watching Jen, Karen, Louis, Eric, Steve, Eugenio, and Anatolio out in the fields and they have shown me what resilience and true, hard work really is. Their dedication, rain or shine, allows each of us to savor the gift of healthy eating. That gift is available every day inside our grocery. It is because of you, our equally important Consumer Members and regular customers, that we are able to share this gift with so many.
As the seasons have changed, the store has changed. Sourcing from only Oregon and California small farms has its challenges in the dead of winter, but, surprising to me, we have been exceptionally bountiful year round. My favorite day in the store thus far was the day I looked at our overflowing produce case (beautifully glowing in all its six feet of glory) with 95% of the produce just harvested the day before from our own fields. I had waited all year for that moment.
We have many goals to meet in the next year and I have no doubt that our team will meet them. We have spent hours together discussing how we envision our future and what steps we need to take to get there.
It has been such a pleasure getting to know so many of you personally. You have shared your stories, your laughs, your tears, your families, and even your meals with me. This year has proven to be that rare opportunity to witness something truly great happening and I'm honored to have started the journey with you.
Some of you may know that being a Worker Member of our co-op is a daily sacrifice. While we strive to get to the point in our business where we can increase our wages to make life more comfortable and to offer all of us health coverage, sometimes it's hard to make ends meet. Most of us have partners that have jobs that can cover our health insurance needs. Sadly, I am not one of these Worker Members. I have been offered a job outside of our co-op that includes health coverage and it is with a heavy heart, that I cannot refuse. I will be leaving Our Table on December 1st as a Worker Member.
The beauty of this transition is that I leave this store in the most capable hands I can think of--my husband Patrick. Pat has been in the Our Table kitchen for the last nine months, spearheading our prepared foods program and steering the grocery in the successful direction it has taken. It is with much pride that I announce he will be taking over the Prepared Foods and Retail Manager position moving forward.
I may not be behind the counter or stocking shelves when I see you next, but I will always be a loyal shopper and lifelong Consumer Member of Our Table Cooperative--my inspiring home away from home.
Because just like you, I truly believe we can make a difference.
See you on the farm,