45 Years Strong
On Valentine’s Day, the Ashland Food Co-op turns 45 years old.
It’s hard to imagine we’ve been providing healthy, organic food to the Rogue Valley for almost half a century. From our humble beginnings as the Ashland Community Food Store to now a thriving Co-op with over 10,000 owners, it has been an honor to serve this community.
Let’s take a brief stroll down memory lane and see how far we’ve come in 45 years.
1971 A small group of Ashland families joined together to form a food buying club.
1972 Membership grew rapidly and within a year’s time, a store front opened on North Main to accommodate the demand.
Mid 70s Business grew and soon a larger store was needed and operations moved to a larger location on 3rd and Lithia Way, currently the Ashland Outdoor Store.
Mid 80s The volunteer labor that helped shape the Co-op was phased out and replaced by paid staff to meet the growing needs of the store.
1987 The first General Manager was hired.
1988 The store was extensively remodeled by expanding retail, office and warehouse space. A community room was also added which was available at low or no cost for community sponsored events and classes.
1990s The store was thriving! But the staff of 50+ people and the space could barely keep up with the demands.
1993 In April, we broke ground on our current location and in November we opened the doors.
2002 The 4500 square feet addition was completed that now houses our Deli, Produce and Meat departments.
2003 After many years of debate, research and surveys, we made the full transition from the Ashland Community Food Store to the Ashland Food Co-op. On January 1st, 2003, we re-incorporated as a cooperative enterprise and began taking memberships in our newly formed co-op.
Today 10,000 owners strong and growing!
In celebration of our 45 year milestone, we invite you to join us for free birthday cake on February 14th from 1pm - 4pm at the Tasting Kiosk. Additionally, we’ll be offering special, “45”-centric birthday sales on some of your favorite foods and products all month long.
Throughout this anniversary year we will be refreshing our brand and launching a new, beautiful logo to take us into the next decade. We look forward to celebrating our history and contributions to the Ashland, and greater Rogue Valley, community throughout the whole year.
Stay tuned for more birthday and new brand celebrations!
More Co-op News
By Emile Amarotico
In celebration of Sustainability Month in April, we asked our Sustainability Committee to share their favorite eco-friendly product.
By Ed Claassen, Board President
Your Board and Management Team invested a significant amount of time in 2014 developing a set of strategic initiatives that we believe are vital in shaping the future of our business and furthering our mission. We formed a Strategic Planning Steering Committee consisting of 3 Board members and 3 Management Team members to guide the implementation of these initiatives.
To further our sustainability efforts and to serve you better, we began offering Electronic Owner Coupons in January 2017 at the register.
No more forgetting to bring your owner coupons. No more waiting for your newsletter to arrive. Cashiers simply ask if you want to use your owner coupons when you check out.
As we enter our second year of Electronic Coupons we wanted to share a couple of friendly reminders and the 2018 month by month schedule.
The funding cycle for the 2018 Co-op Community Grants for nonprofit organizations is now open.
Every spring, for more than 20 years, we’ve been donating to area nonprofits through our Community Grant program. We are committed to creating healthy, sustainable communities and this program helps us fulfill that commitment by supporting the amazing work of local nonprofits. The Community Grant program is also the highlight of Cooperative Principle 7, Concern for Community, and is something we take to heart.
By Emile Amarotico
As we commence our lap around the sun in 2018, I wish to recognize the longstanding contributions of an amazing group of professionals. We are blessed with the dedication of eleven department managers expertly coordinating the daily flow of people, products and services that breath life into our Co-op!
Lynne (35+ years’ tenure) our Grocery Manager oversees keeping the aisles abundant with shelf stable products and coolers full of fresh perishables.
By Gwyneth Bowman, Vice President
After serving on the AFC Board for fourteen years my passion for the Co-op model has strengthened my commitment to the Cooperative Principles and Values. Of special importance is how we work together as a governing body with one voice. We are the ultimate decision-makers of our Co-op and hold a trusteeship for the benefit of our owners and community.
Like it or not, the cool weather has arrived. Whether you are heading out for a hike or enjoying a good book by the fire, the Co-op Deli has what you need to fuel your favorite fall activity. Stay warm with these comfort food recommendations from the Co-op Deli.
By Emile Amarotico
A recent visitor commented that our parking is totally inadequate to our business volume. What’s true is that we cannot create more parking due to space and municipal code constraints. Thus, the value of each available space is increasing over time. Assuming only half of Co-op shoppers use automobile parking, each space supports at least $200,000 in annual sales.
When not working on Board of Director efforts, my profession is an Interior and Building Designer. I own the Ashland Design Studio, located in the Historic Railroad District, and have a design services studio there - JulieO Design. I have been in the architectural design business my whole life; from crawling around my father's architectural studio to traveling around the world working on buildings large and small to now having created my own niche in the local building community. I took a few years off this path to own and run Tease Restaurant here in Ashland.
October is National Co-op Month, so what’s the big deal? Being a co-op is special. Yes, we know we are biased, but being a cooperative enterprise means we do business differently. We don’t have a single owner living on their private island drinking margaritas all day without a care in the world. We are owned and governed by you, our 10,000 members. We share the burden in hard times and share the benefits in the good times. We put people, the planet and our principles before profit.
By Emile Armarotico
This spring, National Co-op Grocers recognized Ashland Food Co-op as a Co+efficient Sustainability Star for our excellent sustainability efforts.
Our Sustainability Vision aims at being carbon neutral by 2030. We’ve taken a great stride toward this by installing a 39 kilowatt solar electric system on our rooftop with the capacity to generate approximately 7% of our electricity usage. The cost was partially offset by a $27,000 REAP (Rural Energy for America Program) Grant.
When we say local, we mean local. We source our local goods from within 200 miles of the store. By purchasing goods from local producers, we aim to create and maintain a healthy local economy and support family farms. What could be better than helping your community by buying local goods?
With all the local products that we offer, it’s hard to pick a favorite. But that’s exactly what we asked our staff to do. Here are some of their go-to local eats.
How often can you browse the shelf at your neighborhood grocery store, see a bottle of hand crafted, local cider and say, “Hey, I help make that!” Well, at the Co-op you can.
Many of us wait all year for this moment. We spend the winter months dreaming of a certain fuzzy stone fruit, its sweet juices dripping from our face and the buttery golden pie crust those yellow-orange slices will inhabit.
Good news! The wait is over. That local, sweet orb of sunshine has finally arrived. That’s right. Rolling Hills peaches are here!