Quarter Two Board Report
Liz Kolbe, Board Member & Treasurer
I’ve never been one for New Year’s Resolutions. Birthday resolutions are slightly more my style (I did a few weeks of push-ups the summer I turned 30…). But that doesn’t mean I’ve never made a resolution that lasted. Just that the most successful resolutions I’ve made have occurred when the momentum arises naturally, and I find myself able to decide once, with conviction, and stick with it.
For example: Before living in Ames, I lived in Wooster, OH. When I first moved to Wooster, I didn’t know anyone, so I started volunteering at the local food co-op to fill my free time and hopefully, make some friends. Since college I’d been an eager cook, and had dabbled in the world of vegetable CSAs and grass-fed beef. I was knowledgeable about the food system and considered myself a “buy local” supporter, with the t-shirts, tote-bags, and a signed copy of The Omnivore’s Dilemma to prove it. Did I feel good about myself when I bought local? Yes. Did I do it all the time? No. Why? I could say convenience and access, which would be partially true. But also, I just hadn’t decided to yet.
While at that food co-op in Wooster (it’s called Local Roots), for the first time, I suddenly did have consistent access to locally-produced meat, dairy, eggs, fruits and vegetables, bread, preserves, and other goods. But grocery is a tough business, and so is farming, and so is opening a new business. The Co-op was in its early years and the future wasn’t all roses. The decision became apparent, and the choice was easy. “I will shop here first, always. Even if the same product is available at another store, I will buy it here.” No need for the graphic tees anymore, I had decided to live my message through my purchasing power. My farming friends and the fellow consumer-members of Local Roots Co-op had built a place that allowed me to make an easy decision, a one-time decision, to act on my belief in member-ownership, community and a local foods economy.
When I moved away from Wooster, to Ames, I was very sad to lose that place and community. But I found it here, too, at Wheatsfield Co-op. Over 100 local producers (Iowa) are featured in the store. I’ve never had easier and more consistent access to local foods – and other organic and sustainably-sourced products – than I do at Wheatsfield. Maybe other stores carry the same products, but it isn’t so central to their business. It is central to ours, and it’s imperative that we all support that shared mission. You have an easy choice to make. Decide once: shop at Wheatsfield.
We are sorry, this survey is now closed. Thank you for your responses. Please let us know if you have any questions.
We want to hear from you! How is YOUR Co-op doing? What is great? What can be improved?
Our 2019 Member-Owner and Shopper Survey will be open for responses April 1-30. It should take 15-20 minutes of your time, more if you would like to provide open-ended feedback.
On completion of the survey you will receive a coupon for a free espresso bar drink purchase!
We are sorry, this survey is now closed. Thank you for your responses. Please let us know if you have any questions.
By Adam Calder, Produce Manager
This article was originally published in our April 2011 Field Journal
Seed Savers Exchange Seeds are available for sale at the Co-op!
Using a mixture of science, technology and thousands of hours of labor, the employees of Seed Savers Exchange in Decorah, IA, provide Iowa and the nation with a source for heirloom gardening seeds and transplants.
A nonprofit and member supported organization, Seed Savers was founded in 1975 by Dianne Ott Whealy and Kent Whealy to support and build a network around collecting, conserving, and sharing heirloom seeds. The business has grown to include nearly 900 acres of certified organic farmland, a herd of rare ancient white cattle, an heirloom apple orchard, heirloom grape vines and a catalog of over 25,000 different plants.
According to Trisha Hageman, Seed Inventory Manager, Seed Savers Exchange is organized into two parts; the commercial part which includes selling seeds wholesale and direct to consumers and the preservation part which includes saving seeds of endangered plants for generations to come.
“The seed house itself is where more of the commercial end of Seed Savers happens,” Hageman said. “We have the commercial and the preservation side. The commercial side sells the seed packets whether it’s to your local grocery store, farmers’ market people or home gardeners. The seed house makes the money so we can do the preserving.”
The seed house is where the seeds are cleaned, dried, packed and gathered for distribution. All of the seed packets used to be hand packed. However, due to growing demand for the seeds, a seed packing machine recently became one of the many pieces of advanced technology used to increase efficiency.
“They used to be all done by hand, but we were fortunate enough in the last year to purchase this Seedpack 2000,” Hageman said. “By having this machine it allows us to continue to grow without growing out of our space. It’s calibrated by the weight of the seed, so you can speed it up and slow it down depending on how much seed you need in a packet. The packets are printed right here with the lot information, the amount of seeds in a packet and whether it’s organic or non organic. It also does the gluing, the folding and presses it together right here. Depending on the size and weight of the seed we can sometimes put out 1,500 packets in forty-five minutes.”
Near the room housing the Seedpack 2000 is a large climate controlled walk-in storage cooler where seeds are stored prior to packing and shipping.
“All 600 varieties of seeds that are in our catalog are stored in here.” Hageman said. “This cooler is jam packed. We might have a supply of a hard to grow variety of seeds for ten years. That’s why we want to make sure this storage facility is top notch for what it does.”
Seed Savers Exchange offers a mix of organic and conventional seeds as it is difficult to find organic options for all of the specimens in their collection.
“We do sell both organic and conventional seeds, but what’s grown at Seed Savers is all organic. We do still sometimes buy conventional seeds from a different seed company or some of our conventional growers. Not all of our growers are organic.”
Another factor that contributes to a lack of a 100% organic catalog is the spatial requirements and buffer zones needed for organic farming.
“Isolation of everything is not possible,” Hageman said. “We do have growers, some from in the United States and some from different countries. If something needs a longer growing season we’ll try to send it somewhere more south.”
Aaron Burmeister, who works in the collections department, explained further how the commercial aspect of Seed Savers Exchange fuels the preservation aspect of the group.
“Any profit they realize is called project related revenue. It goes to support the work of preservation that we do here. We’re trying to preserve, maintain, and distribute heirloom plants. Our focus really is vegetables. We do have flowers, herbs and other types of things. We have an orchard as well as grapes.”
Burmeister said they are quite serious about preserving their samples for as long as possible, and they have many avenues in which they pursue that goal. On site are several small climate controlled coolers and freezers that can keep a seed viable for decades.
“Here we’re actually storing things for 20 to 30 years before we grow them out again,” Burmeister said. “There are very specific requirements we need to meet in order for the seeds to respond well to that sort of long term storage.”
Seeds are also sent to and stored in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in northern Norway, near the Arctic Circle. This program is sponsored by the Norwegian government in conjunction with several international organizations that are also dedicated to biodiversity preservation.
“We are the largest American non-governmental depositor in that program. We send a large package once a year,” Burmeister said.
Not only are seeds stored for decades, but living tissue cultures are also kept alive year after year to preserve things like potatoes. Patty Storlie, who also works in collections, said the tissue cultures are nurtured and cared for to ensure the survivability of plants that don’t readily produce seeds.
“We grow our potatoes and sweet potatoes in test tubes here,” Storlie said. “We grow them in a defined medium, a semi solid agar developed in the fifties. As the plant grows it will exhaust the nutrients in this medium. We take a branch point, make a cutting, put that into a fresh tube and then it will propagate itself from the apical node. It’s less labor intensive and less costly than growing them out in the field every year because potatoes don’t replicate from seed reliably. They are one of the plant species like garlic that need to be maintained [by propagating the current plant]. Each individual tube is sub cultured every six months to a year. This collection has been maintained this way for about 15 years and there are about 600 different potato varieties, out of thousands. I think maybe twenty are grown commercially.”
All of these aspects of Seed Savers Exchange combine to form an organization that is working toward maintaining and revitalizing a bio-diverse world for generations to come. When you buy a packet of their seeds, you are holding onto a piece of a unique genetic heritage. You are helping to ensure a tomorrow that is not void of all of the color, beauty and splendor that comes from a backyard garden.
Primary Health Care, Inc (PHC) is a federally funded health clinic in Ames dedicated to serving the medically insured, uninsured and underinsured with their health care needs.
This farm season (May-October), in cooperation with Mustard Seed Farm, PHC is offering Farm to Clinic. Clinic families receive shares of farm produce, including vegetables and fruit. Pregnant and nursing women as well as individuals with diabetes and other chronic health conditions are encouraged to enroll. Participating families, at no cost, pick up their farm share at the clinic and at the same time receive recipe ideas, nutrition information and can engage in live waiting room demonstrations on how to use the food provided in their box that week.
PHC is grateful to Mustard Seed Farm and to Wheatsfield Co-op for their support and enthusiasm for this project. If you have questions or would like to help, please contact Miguel Biott at [email protected] or Leysan Mubarakshina at [email protected]
NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Central Iowa supports, educates and advocates for individuals living with mental illness and their family members at no charge to the participants. The organization mainly serves Ames, ISU students and Story County residents through their educational classes, support groups and their Mental Health Wellness Center.
NAMI offers support groups for those living with mental illness and for family members, individual support, emergency financial loan assistance and other programs. Educational meetings for community members and educational classes specifically designed for family members and individuals living with mental illness are regularly offered. There are no eligibility requirements, other than being affected by mental illness in some way. All age groups and individuals are welcome.
Panels of NAMI members help to train police and first responders on how to respond to a person displaying symptoms of mental illness. We advocate by contacting legislators on behalf of those affected by mental illness, and by being a part of the Story County Mental Health/Criminal Justice Task Force. Our goal is to erase the stigma and raise awareness that these biological illnesses can be effectively treated.
International Women’s Day, March 8, 2019
We work with many woman-owned and woman-friendly businesses at the Co-op! This International Women’s Day, we wanted to highlight some of our local women-owned or led businesses. Please join us in supporting them!
The theme for International Women’s Day 2019 is Balance for Better. Balance drives a better working world. We notice its absence and celebrate its presence. Use the hashtags #Balanceforbetter and #IWD2019 for sharing your International Women’s Day stories on social media.
We apologize for those local women-owned or led businesses we missed! There are quite a few!
Event in Ames
Ames Public Library
Friday, March 8, 6:30-8:30pm
Join as we celebrate the empowerment of women across our community. The Ames High Step Team will kick off the evening with a lively performance. Then Dr. Karen Kedrowski, Director of the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics, will facilitate a panel discussion on increasing representation of women in politics. Come hear how women can support women!
Panelists will include:
Niki Conrad, 4th District County Supervisor
Monic Behnken, Ames School Board Member
Bronwyn Beatty-Hansen, Ames City Council
Kelly Winfrey, Assistant Professor at ISU whose research focuses on political campaign communication and gender
LonnaCards + Onion Creek Seedlings
Cute and whimsical LonnaCards have been featured at the Co-op for many, many, many years. Lonna hand makes every card with illustrations inspired by life on the farm. Look for Onion Creek heirloom tomato, pepper and herb seedlings in the spring at the Co-op. Lonna plants and cares for them in her greenhouses before they arrive at the Co-op.
Dallas Center, Iowa
Sarah Underberg and her husband Eric started making fermented foods to address health problems like joint pain. Today they make raw sauerkrauts, pickles, kimchi, and kombucha – on tap at your Co-op! “We’re changing lives one gut at a time,” Sarah says.
Olympia, Washington – working with producers in West Africa
Every Alaffia purchase empowers mothers and West African communities. They’re committed to fostering gender equality, and measure their success not simply by profit, but by empowerment. That’s not lip service – their empowerment projects include maternal health services, FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) eradication, eyeglass donation, education projects, and reforestation. Since 2003 they’ve opened 10 schools, planted 57,575 trees, provided school supplies to 32,842 children, and maternal healthcare to 4,432 women
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Julie Parisi handcrafts her flavorful pastas (delicious simply with butter or good olive oil) in small batches, cutting her ravioli by hand. “I started making pasta when I was young next to my grandmother – we made pasta every Sunday for our family.” You won’t find pasta made with better ingredients, including local, organic flour from Early Morning Harvest, grown and milled here in Iowa, giving even her dried pastas the flavor and texture of fresh pasta.
CADO Ice Cream
Deb Dowd is passionate about good health. She and her family created Shaktea Kombucha before moving onto their next (and very successful food adventure) CADO Ice Cream. The brand is really making a name for itself nationwide – winning accolades on many blogs’ and magazines’ “top 10” dairy-free ice cream lists. Their avocado base provides a rich, creamy canvas for classic ice cream favorites like mint chocolate chip, dark chocolate & lemon sorbet. Enjoy a whole avocado in every pint!
Jennifer Knox, a poet, a cook, and a “devoted friend to parrots everywhere” makes unique herb and spice blends with her husband Collin. What started as holiday gifts in 2011 have gradually taken over their lives. They grow some of the herbs and spices and dehydrate them and also source ingredients in bulk, but all are grown in America and are preservative free.
Siberian Soap Company
Ann Staudt is the founder, chief soap formulator, kitchen chemist, graphic designer, sales manager, packaging extraordinaire, and overall operations manager behind Siberian Soap Co. She holds degrees in both chemical and environmental engineering. Soapmaking provides a wonderfully creative outlet that combines her interests in science, art, and living a simple, eco-friendly lifestyle.
Maytag Dairy Farm
Myrna Ver Ploeg joined Maytag in 2003 and is currently the CEO of this premier cheese making company. She herself grew up on a dairy farm in Marshall County. Myrna says the business has always operated under three basic principles: be good stewards of whatever resources they are given, be independent thinkers and follow their hearts.
Deb Zisko Cards
Deborah spends her precious spare time creating watercolor collages of the much loved Iowa landscape. A self-taught watercolor painter, she often works on smaller size paintings. The intimacy of space affords her the opportunity to explore layers of color.
Iowa Choice Harvest
Penny Brown Huber, CEO, leads Iowa Choice Harvest in connecting customers to earth-conscious Iowa farmers who grow high-quality fruits and vegetables. Iowa Choice Harvest acts as a food hub for Iowa based farmers to wholesale their sweet corn, apple and sweet potato harvest. The company then flash freezes the product and sells the product under one brand.
Iowa Choice Harvest is currently being forced to move due to the tornado that devastated Marshalltown last summer. Visit their crowd-funding campaign to support this local business.
Join the Co-op between March 4-17 and receive a gift! We’re giving away 1/2LB of Equal Exchange Fair Trade Bird of Paradise Coffee, a bar of Endangered Species fair trade chocolate and a local honey stick!
- Full Equity Member-Ownership
Buy a share in the Co-op! You will literally own the Co-op! Join 6,000 other member-owners in ownership.
- Full Benefits & Discounts
- One-time purchase
- Fully refundable
- $100 purchase – can pay at once or over 10 months
- Can withdrawal and get your money back at anytime!
- Student Membership
Open to college or high school students
- Most of the Benefits and Discounts of equity membership
- Yearly Fee
- Not refundable
- $20 purchase
Membership helps grow the Co-op, grow local business, supports local producers, promotes the cooperative business model, supports the sustainability of the Co-op, provides local jobs and more!
Finding and Following Your Passion
By Adam Calder
I recently attended a luncheon hosted by the Young Professionals of Ames where Iowa State University Head Wrestling Coach Kevin Dresser gave a speech about finding and following your passions in life.
Dresser opened up his speech with a little humor about what inspired him to become a coach. “I didn’t want to ever have to dress up for work” Dresser said, “so I picked the right profession. I’m overdressed today, I’ve got blue jeans on. Usually I get to wear sweats to work.”
He then told an anecdote from his childhood that put him on a life long journey towards living his passion.
“I grew up in Humboldt, IA,” Dresser said. “In 8th grade I got a chance to go to the Iowa High School State Championship and back then it was at Vet’s Auditorium. It was a big deal to go to the state championships. We walk in, and its 13,000 people and it’s the final start and they have one spotlight down on one mat and they turn the lights off and they start the music and two guys walk out and wrestle for a state championship that Saturday night in front of 13,000 people, and I thought that was the coolest thing I’d ever seen. As an 8th grader, all of the sudden I kind of felt my passion. I got really what I call laser-light focused. It’s amazing as an 8th grader what can motivate you.”
Dresser pursued a career in wrestling through high school and college. Once he graduated college, he was confronted for the first time in many years with the prospect of not wrestling, and he didn’t know what else he wanted to do.
“Didn’t know what I wanted to do when I got done” Dresser said, “all I knew was that I wanted to be an athlete and now my athletic career was over with, and I had no clue what I wanted to do. So I figured I’d try coaching. I stuck around Iowa City for a couple years, I was a grad assistant there, still really didn’t know what I wanted to do. I really didn’t have a passion.”
His prospects changed with one phone call from a high school.
“And then I got a call from a high school,” Dresser said “a real serious high school in Virginia in the late 80’s, 1989, to take over a high school program.”
While he grew to love his new responsibilities, initially he had a more pragmatic reason for taking the job.
“I took the job probably to be quite honest just for the money” Dresser said, “and what happened along the way is I fell in love with coaching. I had a lot of passion to help kids and to win and compete.”
He coached at this level for eight years, and grew restless in his position.
“We won eight state titles in eight years” Dresser said, “and then I thought I was ready to get out of coaching. I was actually kind of getting kind of bored. When you win eight out of eight you’re like ‘what else can I do?’”
From there Dresser moved into real estate. He moved to Ankeny, got an office job and put on a suit and tie until he realized he had no passion for it.
“After five months of driving into that office” Dresser said, “I came home one day and told my new wife ‘this sucks. I don’t like putting this suit and tie on every day and I want to be a coach.’”
He went back to Virginia to be a wrestling coach for his passion, and a real estate broker for the practicality and the ability it afforded him to pay his bills. His wresting job in Virginia led back to Iowa two years ago, and Dresser has been the head coach of the ISU wrestling team ever since.
Dresser has synthesized all of these life lessons and experience into five steps for finding and following your passion:
“When I go out to talk to groups,” Dresser said, “and when I talk to my team I’ll tell them that number one: you should want to be great, and it’s ok to want to be great. Here’s what you’ve got to do to be great. Number one, you’ve got to figure out exactly what you want to be great at, I call it laser-light focus. That’s the most important thing is find out is that what you’re really passionate about.”
“Step two is…you’ve got to have a plan to get there,” Dresser said, “and that’s usually where we come in, in our business, that’s called coaching. A plan involves instruction from somebody that’s been there. It’s hard to go the line with somebody to tell you to go somewhere when they’ve never been there. That’s where good coaching comes in, and good mentorship in business.”
“The third part of it is,” Dresser said, “… where you start to loose people is you’ve got to go to work.”
“And number four…” Dresser said, “You have to be tough in the toughest of circumstances. If you want to be a leader in your industry, you’ve got to know who you’re competing against.
“The fifth one” Dresser said, “is you’ve got to find something you really enjoy and is fun. If it’s truly your passion and you’re going to excel at it, it’s got to be fun.”
La Riojana Cooperative Fair Trade Wines
La Riojana Wines Cooperative, a collection of Fair Trade Certified farms in Argentina, is the single largest producer of Fairtrade certified wines in the world. Each wine stands for the ethos of the winery, teaching La Riojana growers to produce wine using sustainable and ethical farming practices as well as supporting health and education throughout their communities.
When you purchase La Riojana wines you are not just purchasing quality wine, you are helping more than 422 cooperative members continue to invest in a brighter future.
La Riojana Malbec
This dark, full-bodied Malbec shows off its intensity with herbal berry aromas. Pumped-up candied black-fruit flavors are thick and gooey, with cooked brown sugar, mint and toasty flavors on the finish. A perfect match for grilled red meats, tomato based pasta dishes, cheese or chocolate.
La Riojana Cabernet Sauvignon
This wine is clear and bright with a deep ruby color. It’s a sophisticated wine with concentrated, succulent fruit. It is dry in the mouth with silky tannins. It has pronounced intensity flavors of dark plums, dark cherries, cocoa, and hints of coffee. Enjoy with pasta, grilled steak, pork chops, meats or stews.
La Riojana Cooperative Fair Trade Olive Oils
La Riojana produces Fairtrade extra virgin olive oil from select olives grown in the Antinaco Valleys in South America. This is one of the most important olive producing regions in South America. They received Fair Trade certification for their olive oils in 2015, the first producer in Latin America to do so.
Extra virgin Fairtrade olive oil
A balanced blend made from Arauco, Arbequina and Manzanilla olive varieties with a ripe olive bouquet and notes of almonds and spices.
Extra virgin Fairtrade organic olive oil
A blend of Arauco and Manzanilla organic olive varieties with an aroma of green and ripe olives and notes of dried fruits and a combination of spicy and sweet flavors.
Can you believe Wheatsfield moved to Northwestern Ave 10 years ago! Wow! AND, 45 years ago, the Co-op was founded as Mutual Aid Food Association (MAFA) on the ISU Campus. Celebrate with us on Saturday, March 9th from 10am-4pm!
More details to come, but here is what is planned now:
300 Coffee Cups! 11oz cups with the Wheatsfield logo. Starting at 10am. One per person. While supplies last.
$50 Gift Cards! Sign-up to win or win at random as you check out!
Cake! Lemon Blueberry Cake & Vegan Chocolate Cake Starting at 10am. One per person. While supplies last.
Tom Russell + Friends 11am-1pm
Ben Shrag + The Cautionaries 1:30-3:30pm
Deli Seating Area
Kalona Supernatural, Kalona
US Wellness Meats
Clear Creek Orchard, Collins
CADO Ice Cream, Fairfield
Jenuinely Pure, Ames
Lost Lake Farm, Jewell
Calico Skies Winery, Inwood
Avenues for Health, Massages
Organic Greens, Washington
Picket Fence Creamery, Woodward
KID’S SCAVENGER HUNT
Discover items around the Co-op, get a prize!
2019 Quarter 1 Board Report
By Megan Myers, Board Member
March 18, 2009 marks Wheatsfield’s move to its current 413 Northwestern Avenue location. As Wheatsfield approaches the tenth year since its expansion and relocation, this decade-long anniversary serves as an ample time to reflect on what Wheatsfield means to the community. At recent $5 dinners (if you haven’t yet checked these out, I would highly recommend them!) I asked ten individuals who were enjoying their dinners alongside family and friends to define Wheatsfield in just one word.
FRIENDLY. COMMUNITY. RECIPROCAL. YUMMY. INCLUSIVE. EDUCATIONAL. LOCAL. COOPERATIVE. SUSTAINABLE. GIVING.
These are only ten words, from just a handful of community members, that attempt to describe all that Wheatsfield encompasses. The ten responses are different, but also connected. They speak to the mission of the co-op, but also to the store culture and product selection. A reflection on the tenth anniversary of the store location on Northwestern also entails looking back and remembering the previous store locations, the roots of the Wheatsfield that our community knows and enjoys today. To offer a brief history, Wheatsfield first opened its doors in Ames (then known as the Mutual Aid Food Association or MAFA) at Alumni Hall on Iowa State’s Campus in 1974. Three years later, a new storefront opened in downtown Ames on 136 Main Street and in 1980 the store was moved to 413 Douglas, where it remained for 29 years. While operating from this longstanding location, approximately 3,000 square feet, the co-op saw many important changes: the addition of a small eating area, the joining of the National Cooperative Grocers in 2002, and the establishment of the patronage dividend system, to mention only a few.
As a new board member and a Mom of young children, I might add that my one-word description of Wheatsfield is accessible; the co-op is not only easily accessed by bike, by foot, by stroller, or by car, but the space itself proves accessible for our youngest and oldest community members. Regardless of the word(s) that describe Wheatsfield, the important realization is that these values – the ways that people view and define the co-op and its mission and outreach – are constants. Alumni Hall, Main Street, Douglas, or Northwestern, regardless of location, the heart of the store is a constant. Happy tenth year anniversary, 413 Northwestern!