This past Tuesday, I sat down with two inspired individuals who are actively working to create market for locally-produced, healthy food and products. Michael Conley, President of Souhegan Valley Food Co-Op and Sandy Lafleur, Vice President, are new members to the Souhegan Valley Chamber of Commerce and are excited to share their vision for fostering a community where we all know who produces our food and local goods.
Why would a family or individual consider being a part of a food co-op?
A food co-op that provides local food means that it’s fresher and gives you better taste and nutrition. A food co-op is also member-owned which means that members have a say in how the co-op is run. Locally-circulated dollars means that local people who grow your food are being paid, not some large agricultural company that is far from New Hampshire. This also reduces the carbon footprint as goods have less of a distance to be transported. And finally, a co-op builds community where members can have peace of mind knowing who produces the food and local goods.
Currently the Souhegan Valley Food Co-Op is in the planning stages and the goal is to have a store that sells fresh, local products year-round to everyone. Membership allows those interested to invest equity in the store, vote on big decisions, and elect (one household = one vote) a board of directors to represent their interests. Members enjoy many other benefits including patronage dividends and discounts both at the co-op and also at participating local businesses.
The Souhegan Valley Co-Op joined the Chamber of Commerce to connect with other members of the community and share their vision. They are excited to be participating in and part of a group where they can share valuable resources with one another and learn and grow from each other.
Both Michael and Sandy shared with me that the Souhegan Valley feels like home. Michael has lived in this area for most of his life and is a Milford resident and Sandy is a New Hampshire native living in Wilton. Here they have made friends for life, and are actively involved in the local community. They love that people here value the outdoors and have a deep commitment to nature as well as quality relationships. Sandy says that she values how down-to-earth folks are and is excited to be building something bigger than the sum of it’s parts in this area.
Sandy attended her first ever Contra dance in the Milford Town Hall, the Milford Town Hall was also the first place she ever played guitar and now she is a caller at the monthly Contra dance held in the Town Hall.
Mike also runs a Kundalini yoga co-op held at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Milford, NH which is a group of yoga teachers collaborating on yoga instruction.
Souhegan Valley Sustainability Fair
April 14th from 10am – 4pm
Wilton-Lyndeborough High School
The goal of the fair is to learn, celebrate, and act on issues and topics around socially and environmentally-responsible living. All are welcome!
Learn more about the Souhegan Valley Food Co-Op and how to become a member HERE.