Owner Benefits: Independence and Connection

By Julie O'Dwyer, Board Secretary, Chair of the Owner Engagement Committee

Fifteen years ago, on an initial house hunting trip, I walked into the Ashland Food Co-op and signed up for a membership. Then last year, in a move across the country, my daughter joined the Bushwick Food Co-op in New York. She grew up knowing that being part of a co-op makes her part of an important and valuable group.  It made me so happy to hear that a co-op membership was part of her transition to independence. Being an owner of a cooperative provides benefits both individually and collectively.

Co-ops provide support not just with the food they provide, but also with economic and social connectivity.

Starting out in a new community, co-ops are one of the best ways to connect to others who share your values, concerns, and efforts to create a better world for all of us. Ashland Food Co-op is often described as the vortex of Ashland. Though might feel overwhelming at times, like when you just need a quick grab-n-go, the Co-op remains an integral part of the fabric of our town. It is a touchstone of our community and where you will always find someone you know.

I have had the honor for the last five years to serve on the Ashland Food Co-op Board of Directors.

It is in this role that I truly have seen what an immense impact the Co-op has with owners and the greater community, from providing vibrant healthy food to our commitment of being a positive force in our town and beyond.

With our educational lectures and cooking classes, we inform our owners about healthy eating and lifestyle options. The experienced staff shares their knowledge of products that benefit each unique owner request. The social events and gatherings reinforce our values and promote a connectedness. We give back consistently to organizations that are doing good in our community through our Community Grant and donations programs.

As my daughter creates a new life on the East Coast, I’m thrilled she will experience the benefits of being a co-op owner first hand. I look forward to hearing how she connects to her own community through her co-op and the unique stories of their co-op culture, although I doubt anything can rival the fun and eccentric vibe of Ashland Food Co-op’s Courtyard.

More Co-op News

4 Ways to Reduce Your Food Waste

It’s the New Year, our favorite time for goal-setting, making positive resolutions, and shifting our impact. One of the Co-op’s goals is to become a Zero Waste facility. Our staff works to divert as much food waste as we can - and we hope our member-owners will join us in this goal too.

Understanding CBD

The world of CBDs is continuing to grow, adding to our already vast assortment of medicine available, and sometimes adding to the questions we have about it. We asked our Wellness team to answer the five most common questions about CBD here at the Ashland Food Co-op.

How is CBD different from what I might find in a dispensary?

Meet Cooking Class Instructor Charlie Douglass

Many talented local chefs share their expertise in the Co-op Kitchen. Charlie Douglass is no exception. As the former Master Chocolatier at Harry and David, Charlie knows a thing or two about chocolate and candy making. 

Tell us how your love of cooking and food began.

Meet Cooking Class Instructor Tiazza Rose

From bread baking to Moroccan cooking, many talented local chefs share their expertise in the Co-op Kitchen. We'd like you to meet a few of them. Tiazza Rose has been teaching the Ashland community the art of Moroccan cooking for years. If you haven't taken a class from Tiazza yet, you should. Here's why.


Tell us how your love of cooking and food began.

We'll cook. You feast.

Spend more time relaxing with friends and family this holiday. Order the Deli’s ready-to-heat and serve Thanksgiving meal without all the fuss. We make everything from scratch and all recipes use the highest quality ingredients.

Choose from three options:

Give the Gift of Good Food

During the month of November, Co-op shoppers can nourish their own families and help fight hunger in the Rogue Valley. We’ve teamed up once again with Smart Chicken® for the Smart Giving Holiday Challenge.

Here’s how it works.

  • For every 10 pounds of Smart Chicken® you purchase from the Meat Department or the Deli, Smart Chicken® will donate one pound of chicken to a local non profit

We're All Turtles

By Dean Williamson, Board of Director

My grandmother loved to talk. Oh, could she talk! And she had one expression that I’ve always really liked. “If you come across a turtle on top of a fence post, you can be pretty sure it didn’t get there by itself.”

Love Local with the Local Guy

Throughout September, we will be celebrating all things local. And no one loves local or is more local than our Temporary Demo Coordinator, Brighton Litjens. He was basically raised at the Co-op, has a strong passion for local farmers and producers and loves delighting shoppers with delicious samples and great deals. Who better to tell us about loving local than the "Local Guy" himself?

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Meet Board of Director Trine Ostergaard

Trine Ostergaard is a newly elected Ashland Food Co-op Board of Director. She brings a world, literally, of experience to the table and has a sincere passion and love for the Co-op. We are thrilled to have her aboard and asked her to answer a few questions.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Meet Board of Director Dean Williamson

Dean Williamson is a newly elected Ashland Food Co-op Board of Director. He brings to the table a plethora of co-op experience and a love of chocolate chip cookies. We are thrilled to have him aboard and asked him to answer a few questions.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Staff Picks: Favorite Local Products

September is Love Local Month!  All month long we’re celebrating our local farmers and vendors with demos, events and more. Here are some of our staff's favorite local products.


How Can I Reduce My Plastic Use at the Co-op?

By Rianna Koppel, Sustainability Coordinator

Plastic pollution today is a global dilemma. Did you know that more than 40% of plastic is used once, then tossed? In 2015, 79% of total plastic waste ended up in landfills or the environment. How can our co-op help reduce the amount of single-use plastics? Luckily, we offer a variety of options for owners.

Stainless Steel Straws

Meet Pachamama Coffee Cooperative

By Lauren Taber, Pachamama Coffee Cooperative

Pachamama Coffee Cooperative started in 2001 with a few simple questions in mind: what would it look like to take Fair Trade a step further? How can coffee farmers be in direct relationship with end consumers in the United States?

We found that the answer was even simpler: cooperative ownership. Pachamama Coffee has been 100% farmer-owned since day one, and is currently owned by 140,000 small scale family farmers across the coffee producing regions of the world.