BBC and Southshire Community Market Board Announce
Start-up of a Bennington Food Co-op by Fall of 2012
After six months of working with the BBC Recruitment and Retention Committee, developing a business plan, building the advisory committee, and applying for a US Department of Health and Human Services – Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HHS-HFFI) grant, the Southshire Community Market (SCM), Bennington’s first food cooperative, is excited to announce its plans for a grand opening this autumn.
The market’s Advisory Board of Directors includes the following individuals: Board President, Kelly McElheny, MAT, Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources Educator; Vice President, Katherine Keys, who is also the Walloomsac Farmers’ Market Manager and Youth Agriculture Program Coordinator; Secretary, Christine Bongartz, RN, BSN, Director of Bennington County VT Department of Health; Treasurer, Alan Baker, local Agriculture Specialist and co-chair of the Walloomsac Farmer’s Market. The board also includes Drea Stoddard, Valedictorian, Southern Vermont College, 2012 – Entrepreneur and Management; Bruce Lonergan, Business Manager and President of Nathanial Court Homeowners Association; David Young, MSM, President Eco-logos LLC, Whole Systems Design and Management Consultant; and Robert ‘Nate’ Niles, Local Contractor, Secretary of the Board of the Bennington Babe Ruth Baseball League and coach.
The SCM recently incorporated as a Not-for-Profit Cooperative in the State of Vermont, and the market board has been working closely with area food co-ops such as the Brattleboro Food Co-op and its General Manager, Alex Gyori, as well as Atty. Laddie Lushin from Braintree, VT, an expert in developing the corporate workings and operations of co-ops across the country.
After several months of searching for a viable location the advisory board selected the property at 473 Main St. The site was chosen for many reasons, but mainly because building owner, Nancy Woltman and her son, Kris, have worked closely with the board in creating an affordable lease structure to help ensure the success of the venture. The same building is also home to Karma Cat Yoga Studio and Oasis Day Spa. Project manager, Kelly McElheny is quoted, “We feel it creates a synergy in the building for people who want to start or maintain a healthy lifestyle. Yoga, a day at the spa, and a good local, whole, nutritious food market; the relationship exists and we look forward to being part of this grouping.”
In addition to locating the Southshire Community Market near a cluster of healthy lifestyle services, the location is in close proximity to local public transportation. McElheny added that, “You may not know it, but Bennington unfortunately has been designated as a ‘Food Desert’ by the USDA. With all of our local farms and agricultural resources we should not be designated a ‘Food Desert.’ We want to become a year-round vending opportunity for our local farmers and producers. We feel this will be a great addition to our current farmers’ market that takes place on Saturdays and Tuesdays throughout the summer.”
The Southshire Community Market utilized the services of grant consultants Putney Andrews Associates, along with the assistance of the BBC staff, BCRC, BCIC, State and Federal Legislators, and community service organizations to submit a grant application to the Department of Health and Human Services. Under the HHS-HFFI grant program, the goal is to eliminate the current ‘Food Desert’ status. Also under the grant, the expectation is to create jobs over the next five years, and construction will be done to restore the space.
We would like to thank everyone who helped out with preparation and information gathering for the grant application. It was a big project and required community collaboration.
Further information can be obtained by contacting the Southshire Community Market at firstname.lastname@example.org.