Friends & Farmers Co-op Hires Outreach Coordinator & Online Market Manager

(From Friends & Farmers Communications Coordinator Michele Marchetti)

Friends & Farmers Makes Its First Hires!

When the community builds something that doesn’t currently exist, milestones are especially important. The co-op’s latest milestone is all about building the talent to make this vision a reality.

Friends & Farmers recently offered part-time positions to two women who were already fulfilling many of these tasks as volunteers. As the demands of this cooperative increase, the Board of Directors believed it was important to make these roles official, creating a level of accountability inherent in a paid position.

We are pleased to announce Stacey Budd as Outreach Coordinator and Melanie Rosenberger as the new Online Market Manager.

Read about these women below:

Stacey Budd is a  recent transplant to the State College area. A Midwestern girl at heart, she was born in Minnesota, studied at Grinnell College in Iowa and lived most of her formative years in Madison, Wisconsin. While there, she pursued a career in conference management and event planning with an international professional membership association. Her local food frenzy started in Madison, spending Saturdays attending the largest producer-only farmers market in the U.S. and becoming an owner-member of the Willy Street Co-op. After 13 years, she was lured east by an opportunity to build an 11-acre homestead with friends in Western Maryland. It was here she explored growing her own food and sourcing her meals from her own backyard. Read more here.

Melanie Rosenberger is a long time transplant to the Centre County region. Receiving her BFA in Fine Arts from Penn State University, Melanie fell in love with the surrounding area and decided to set her roots here. Being the creative existential type, Melanie has worked a myriad of places and industries. She firmly planted herself in the hospitality industry, working at a few local restaurants, honing her craft. Melanie then decided to take a giant leap and moved to New York City to study Culinary Arts at the International Culinary Center, formerly known as the French Culinary Institute. Melanie worked at Perilla in Greenwich Village and Miller’s Tavern in Brooklyn, as well as Great Performances and Peter Callahan catering firms. This work in NYC, along with her longtime love of local foods, helped Melanie to understand what a treasure Centre County is for local foods. So she promptly returned! Read more here.

Online Market Updates

As we welcome our new Online Market Manager, we say goodbye to Interim Online Market Manager Katherine Watt. Her ideas, input and dedication have been incredibly valuable, and have helped build a solid foundation for the cooperative to launch into this exciting next phase. On behalf of the membership, the board thanks Katherine for the countless hours she has donated.

Haven’t ordered from the Friends & Farmers Online Market yet?

Registration is free and shopping is open to everyone, although Friends & Farmers Co-op members pay a little less at check-out as a benefit of co-op membership. The weekly ordering period runs Friday at 6 p.m. through Monday at 12 noon. Good Shepherd Catholic Church is accommodating the market’s growth, so pick-ups will continue at the church, located in Gray’s Woods. Click here for our list of participating producers. (Welcome FASTA & Ravioli Co!)

I already shop at the farmers market. Why should I shop at the Friends & Farmers Online Market?

The main difference between the farmers markets and the Friends & Farmers Online Market is convenience. Most customers for online are people who don’t have the schedule flexibility to get to the markets during their hours or who prefer to know ahead of time what’s available to plan their menus (rather than browse the offerings in person) and/or aren’t able to use a CSA share (because of price, the farmer-choice selection and volume of products in the weekly boxes, etc.).

We love our area farmers markets! If shopping at the farmers markets works for you, keep shopping there, and only use the online market for products from other vendors. For other customers whose schedules don’t permit them to get to the markets, we hope the online market will provide a convenient way to get access to local food.

The Friends and Farmers Co-op, like the farmers market, aims to pass as much of the customer cost on to the farmer as payment for their product as possible. Also like the farmers market, producers are setting their own prices on the online market. Unlike almost every other food outlet, the co-op is not trying to compete with other local food outlets—if people have producers they really like purchasing from they should keep doing so! We have been identifying a gap in the local food system and are trying to fill that gap to increase the number of consumers who can access local food conveniently. 

Eating Locally in Winter

Those who have ordered from the Friends & Farmers Online Market may notice the decline in availability of some produce and dairy items over the next month. As we are in the thick of winter, sunlight and warmth is at a minimum which slows the growth of greens, even in the high tunnels. For the cows at Clover Creek, they get a break in milking before spring calving (which begins the milk cycle all over again for the upcoming season). This is our local food system and a reality of living in the Northeast. We like to think of this point in the year as a time to honor the tradition of eating locally and respect the flow of nature.

Says Rosenberger, “I would also like to note that the market really took shape in the later parts of fall. This was much too late for our vegetable producers to plan for winter growth through this time. As we grow and work with our current producers and customers as well as grow our number of producers and customers we will be able to better prepare to weather these lean winter weeks.”

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