A Recap of Menomonie Market’s 2019 Annual Owner Meeting

Imagine a business where the customers are the owners. Imagine a place where customers are neighbors. Imagine an outlet that encourages local business and provides small producers a market. Now imagine all these people sitting down at a table together for a meal. And imagine a goat being an invited guest.

If you were able to attend the Menomonie Market Food Co-op Annual Meeting on Sunday, September 8th at Wilson Park, then you know that all of this is reality in our community.

At the heart of the mission of our cooperative is that MMFC will be central to a healthy, thriving local community. Some of the beauty of that mission was evident during our 2019 Annual Meeting.

We are blessed and humbled to continue to have General Manager Crystal Halvorson at the helm of MMFC. She has navigated our ship for the past 14 years guiding us through a store expansion.  Her dedication, drive, and pragmatic idealism has provided an atmosphere where excellence and relationships can intersect. Crystal addressed our membership and guests with a heartfelt message, “Who is Menomonie Market Food Co-op?” Of course, the answer was and is… all of us! Crystal recited a diverse list of many names with each one’s unique contributions to the co-op demonstrating that we are a community not just a store.

Our Annual Meeting was an outdoor interactive event. Despite a bit of unseasonable drizzle, the picnic in the park provided a place for mission aligned partners to set up their tents.  MOSES, a non-profit dedicated to organic and sustainable agricultural education from Spring Valley, greeted guests. Wisconsin Farmers Union, based in Chippewa Falls, led children in a rock painting activity while highlighting Kamp Kenwood—a kid’s camp not just for farm kids but for the purpose of cooperative education. Erin Link from EB Ranch brought the farm to the folks introducing us to a special guest, Colores—an endangered San Clemente goat.

John Sippl from the Menomonie USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service shared the message of soil conservation and water quality by way of a larger than life rainfall simulator. The connection between healthy food, healthy soils and a healthy community was evident in the demonstration. The type of farming we encourage impacts more than what is for dinner.

Next, we heard from some of MMFC Fund Our Foodshed Grant recipients. This farmer grant program is one way that we are connecting our membership with local farmers and encouraging local markets. By rounding up at the register, we raised $3,000 for special grants to farmers. We heard from Les from Racing Heart Farm who passionately explained their vegetable production method of no-till, leaving soils undisturbed. Rachel from Mary Dirty Face Farm, a 2018 recipient, recounted learning curves in integrating grazing livestock in the organic orchard. Lindsey from Rising Sun Farm shared the story of bringing their diverse orchard, vegetable and livestock enterprise into the next generation by embracing regenerative principles. These three farms are just a sampling of the richness that surrounds us.

The best was yet to come as a gorgeous meal was spread before us. All the food, as well as the flower centerpieces, were grown and provided by our Fund Our Foodshed grant recipients.  As a community, we ate together, sharing a bountiful meal grown here at home by people we all have come to know.

Looking forward, our co-op owners have a tremendous platform for future partnerships, relationships, community projects, and regional food stability. Let’s continue the meals and the dialogue throughout the year. MMFC’s $4 Wednesday dinners are a perfect time to invite a friend to a meal and introduce them to our store. Check out the community classroom calendar for opportunities to plug in and get to know your neighbors, expand your horizons, or impart your expertise.

We are stronger together.

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