Kick-off Event for Amherst Community Co-op Forming

Press Release: Amherst Community Co-op Membership Drive Kick-off

March 2014

Amherst Community Co-op is holding its official membership drive kickoff event on Saturday, April 12th. The event will be at the Immanuel Lutheran Church at 867 North Pleasant Street in Amherst, from 4 to 6pm.

Amherst Community Co-op is a new food co-op that will be owned by both the worker and the consumer and will provide the Amherst area with wholesome and affordable groceries, with a focus on locally-produced goods and products whenever possible.

The steering committee for ACC has worked for three years to gauge community interest and build support. Amherst’s response has been overwhelmingly positive, from the town planner to the Chamber of Commerce to the many shoppers at local farmer’s markets. The co-op is now ready to offer equity to the public. This event will be the first chance to buy founding member shares. There will be free food, music, and child care.  The event is free and open to the public.

Numerous local co-ops and businesses will be there to promote this new cooperative grocery. Real Pickles has offered samples of their cooperatively-produced pickles and sauerkraut. Apex Orchards will provide a variety of locally-grown apples. Bart’s Ice Cream will serve samples of their ice cream, a valley favorite. Backyard Bakery will be giving samples of hearty bread baked here in Amherst. Guests will be able to sample coffee from Rao’s, and snack on popcorn popped by UMass Five College Credit Union.

Gary Hirshberg, the chairman and co-founder of Stonyfield Farms, will be the keynote speaker. Mr. Hirshberg is a very successful agricultural entrepreneur, having founded the largest producer of organic yogurt in the US. As one of the first graduates of Hampshire College, he has strong ties to the Pioneer Valley. His choice of business shows his obvious commitment to sustainability and the local food movement, and starting this full-scale food co-op in Amherst is a logical extension of that philosophy. He will be introduced by Hampshire College President Jonathan Lash, who is spearheading the school’s Healthy Food Transition Initiative which is funded by a grant of $1 million from Hirshberg.

Other speakers will include Art Ames, General Manager of the Berkshire Co-op in Great Barrington. Art will discuss the importance of maintaining the balance between providing responsible food and keeping important staple products accessible for all patrons who need them. The Berkshire Co-op participates in a program called The Basics that ensures that all customers can affordably purchase important foods, such as bread, eggs, peanut butter and beans. Amherst Community Co-op plans to implement a similar program.

We will also hear from Angie Gregory and Jessica Montagna of Simple Diaper and Linen, who will speak to the worker-ownership component of our co-op.

Parking for this event will be available on-site. We encourage any who are interested in attending to RSVP via email at amherstcommunitycoop@gmail.com, through our Facebook page, or by filling out one of our self-addressed, stamped invitations that we are handing out at the Amherst Winter Farmer’s Market and other events.

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