Blog & Latest News

/Blog & Latest News
Blog & Latest News2017-01-19T21:01:10-05:00
605, 2019

World Fair Trade Day Celebration!

May 6th, 2019|Categories: Blog|0 Comments

Saturday, May 11| 12-2PM | Around the Co-op!

Celebrate World Fair Trade Day with YOUR Co-op! Enjoy fair trade samples (including wine!), giveaways, a kids scavenger hunt (with a fair trade prize!), information and sales!

When you purchase fair trade goods you support:

  • Principle One: Creating Opportunities for Economically Disadvantaged Producers
  • Principle Two: Transparency and Accountability
  • Principle Three: Fair Trading Practices
  • Principle Four:   Payment of a Fair Price
  • Principle Five:  Ensuring no Child Labor and Forced Labor
  • Principle Six:  Commitment to Non Discrimination, Gender Equity and Freedom of Association
  • Principle Seven:  Ensuring Good Working Conditions
  • Principle Eight:  Providing Capacity Building
  • Principle Nine:  Promoting Fair Trade
  • Principle Ten: Respect for the Environment
305, 2019

Double Up Food Bucks

May 3rd, 2019|Categories: Blog|0 Comments

We are excited to announce our partnership with the Healthiest State Initiative on their Double Up Food Bucks program!
What is it? For every $1 that those with SNAP benefits spend on fresh produce, they will receive a $1 coupon to use on a future purchase of LOCAL fresh produce! Limit $10 in coupons per transaction.
The Ames Main Street Farmers’ Market will also be handing out and accepting Double Up Food Bucks this season. They expect to be offering this service in the next few weeks.Double Up Food Bucks can be redeemed at any market or store in the state that participates in the program.
2404, 2019

Local Spring Seedlings

April 24th, 2019|Categories: Blog|Tags: , |0 Comments

April 2019 Produce Parable
By Adam Calder

Spring is being welcomed with open arms here at Wheatsfield Cooperative.  After such an icy, cold and all around brutal winter we are so very appreciative of our local seedling farmers.  Onion Creek Farm right here in Ames and Wabi Sabi Farm in Granger have been quite busy for the past several weeks getting an army of tiny plants ready to go home with you.

These farmers have been filling seedling trays with soil, delicately placing seeds in each cup of the tray, gently watering the trays and then setting them somewhere warm and sunny.  Our dedicated local farmers did all of the waiting and watering so you don’t have to.  That is, you don’t have to until you buy some to take back home to your garden.  With the head start these verdant little plants have been given, they should have no problem settling in nicely to their new homes in your garden.

We have an excellent selection of herbs, greens and tomatoes with more to come!  The selection can change quickly, so it is best to check often to see what is available.  Our first batch of herbs and tomatoes from Onion Creek contains the following tomatoes: Early Girl, New Yorker, Black Prince, Kellog’s Breakfast, Jubille, Garden Peach, Sky Reacher, Taxi, Ponderosa St. Doro, Aunt Ruby German Green, Brandywine, Frgo Yellow Pear, Patio, Tiny, Juane Flame, Green Zebra and St. Pierre.  For herbs from Onion Creek, we have Pineapple Sage, catnip, parsley, Cuban Oregano and Garlic Chives.

From Wabi Sabi, we have red cabbage, green cabbage, leeks, kohlrabi, kale, broccoli, rainbow chard, onions, lettuce, fennel, parsley, chives and garlic chives.

While you are checking out our seedlings, don’t forget to have a look at our gorgeous hanging geranium baskets from Hassevoort Farm in Leon, IA.  Kevin and Liza Hassevoort have been tending to these overflowing baskets for several months.  Considering how cold the last few months have been, this has surely been a challenge.  You’d never know these plants ever had a day of stress in their lives just by looking.  Cheery spring colors billow out of these baskets.  Delicate perfume becomes a heady, intoxicating musk as the flowers unfurl.  They are heavy with the scents and sights of spring, and they exude an aura of life renewed.

2204, 2019

Locally Sourced: Wabi Sabi Farm

April 22nd, 2019|Categories: Blog|0 Comments

An interview with Ben Saunders, founder of Wabi Sabi Farm, Granger, IA. 

WABI SABI FARM IS A UNIQUE NAME FOR A VEGETABLE FARM! WHAT IS THE STORY BEHIND THAT NAME?
A: I first learned of the Japanese philosophy of Wabi Sabi from an old Mother Earth News magazine nine or ten years ago. What really stuck with me was the emphasis it placed on the natural cycles of growth and decay and an appreciation for the “imperfect” beauty of nature.

These two ideas resonate with me when thinking about local and seasonal eating. When eating with the seasons, different fruits, veggies and herbs are available in cycles depending on the time of year. Heirloom tomatoes, for example, may appear “ugly” to some folks but they are beautiful to others.

WHAT WAS YOUR PATH TO BECOMING A FRUIT AND VEGETABLE FARMER?
A: When I was 16, I worked for a very innovative organic farm, before the National Organic Program was around, outside of Iowa City (my hometown). From that experience I felt like farming was always going to be part of my life!

Like many 18 year olds I wanted to leave my hometown, so I spent a lot of time traveling around the country, taking college classes every so often and working on farms along the way. The last place I lived was outside Asheville, North Carolina, working for a permaculture-ish/medicinal herb farm in the Sandy Mush Valley. My grandpa, a very influential person in my life, was getting ready to pass away so I came back to Iowa to spend time with him.

At 25, I decided to finally pursue a degree in Horticulture from Iowa State University. My advisor, Gail Nonnecke, knew my passion for organic farming and knew Angela of Turtle Farm was looking for someone to take over her farm. Gail introduced us, and a few months after I graduated from ISU with a Horticulture degree I began working for Angela. I just turned 41 last November and have been growing on this ground for a total of thirteen years.

CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THE GROWTH OF WABI SABI OVER THE YEARS?
A: Wabi Sabi Farm began on the farm ground that was once known as Turtle Farm. I worked alongside Angela Tedesco (Turtle Farm owner) eventually running the day to day operations of her farm for three years. Angela wanted to retire from actively farming and gratiously offered to rent me the ground for the 2013 growing season. Thus Wabi Sabi Farm was born! My first season I increased transplant sales in the spring and added microgreens into the early spring offerings. Over the years transplant sales have steadily increased (both retail and wholesale), I’ve continued the CSA program and also added farmers’ markets. The last four years I’ve been slowly adding more wholesale sales to restaurants and grocers like Wheatsfield.

WHAT ARE YOUR GROWING PRACTICES? DO YOU GROW ORGANICALLY?
A: The Farm ground has been certified organic since 2002. Being certified organic is a value very important to me! So much so that I am serving my 2nd term on the Iowa Organic Advisory Council for the state.

HOW MANY FARM WORKERS DO YOU EMPLOY?
A: I’m the owner/operator of Wabi Sabi Farm. Kate Solko joined the farm in 2017. We usually hire 2-3 full-time seasonal workers. Then there are the countless other folks that help out each season in many different ways!

FAVORITE VEGETABLE TO GROW? MOST UNIQUE?
A: My favorite vegetable to grow, along with eat, is Brussels Sprouts. The plant, in my opinion, is absolutely beautiful looking like a miniature palm tree with tiny looking cabbages growing up the stalk.

The most unique thing I grow is probably different varieties of basil. Last year I grew seven different types of basil, with all different sorts of flavors from anise-like (Thai) to bubblegum-like (Sacred).

1504, 2019

Raw Cheese Week at the Co-op!

April 15th, 2019|Categories: Blog|0 Comments

Join us from April 18 to April 24 for sales and samples on raw milk cheeses in honor of Raw Milk Cheese Appreciation Day on Saturday, April 20th.

Traditional raw milk cheese-making has existed for centuries and reflects characteristics of local environments, terroir, and flavors. Cheese can be part of a healthy eating pattern, providing nutrients like protein and calcium, and raw milk cheese in particular has been associated with beneficial gut bacteria. If you want to purchase raw milk cheese in the United States, it must have been aged for a minimum of 60 days, whether it’s produced domestically or imported from another country. The “60 days rule,” which was designed to allow the acids and salt in cheese enough time to destroy harmful bacteria, was set back in 1949.

Enjoy samples and sales on the following cheeses: Mt Sterling Co-op Creamery Raw Milk Goat Cheddar, Roth Buttermilk Blue Affinee, Grafton Village Raw Aged Cheddar, Vintage Cheese Company Chipotle Cheddar, Edelweiss Raw Milk Gouda, Organic Valley Grass Milk Sharp Cheddar and Medium Cheddar, El Trigal Raw Manchego, and Fayette Raw Horseradish Cheddar Spread.

504, 2019

Earth Week at YOUR Co-op

April 5th, 2019|Categories: Blog|0 Comments

Earth Week Events and Classes at the Co-op!

April 22-27, mark your calendars for a week of earth themed lovin’. RSVPs required for our FREE classes. End the week with a celebration of all things organic at our annual Organic Sale!

Mustard Seed Community Farm, Farm to Clinic

Monday, April 22, 6-7:30pm
Class: How to Grow Food in Iowa

Join Alice for this beginner’s class which will touch on what, when & how to plant a home food garden with tips on how to manage weeds & pests organically. Learn how to read a seed packet, look at Extension publications to figure out when to plant and when to harvest as well as how to prepare your garden plot.

RSVPs required

Free

Tuesday, April 23, 6:45-8:15pm or
Saturday, April 27, 9-10:30am

Class: Beginners Bike Repair

Want to learn how to fix a flat or to oil your chain? Some simple preventative maintenance can keep your bike working well and help you avoid costly future repairs. Join iconic Skunk River Cycles owner, Ronn Ritz, as he talks you through some of the basics of bike repair. Ronn will not have time to work on each bike in the class, but you can address specific questions if you bring your bike with you.

RSVPs required

Free

Wednesday, April 17, 3-6pm
Event: Start Some Seeds!

NO RSVP NEEDED! Big and small, come one, come all! Join Co-op staff and plant some seeds in the community room from 3-6pm. A selection of local Seed Savers Exchange seeds, reclaimed egg cartons, and soil provided! Come get your hands a little dirty and start some seeds for your garden!

Thursday, April 25, 6-7:30pm
Class: Zero Waste Living

A Zero Waste Lifestyle (ZWL) is rewarding and economical when done right. Reducing our trash and use of packaging can help us save money, conserve our natural resources, and much more! Join Elaine Axmear to learn helpful tips and tricks for a Zero Waste Lifestyle. She will provide simple, concise handouts for attendees with references, recipes and how-to guides.

RSVPs required. 
Free

Friday, April 26, 3-4pm
Event: Clean Up Around the Co-op

NO RSVP NEEDED! Join Co-op Staff to Stash the Trash around the Co-op in honor of Earth Day! Trash bags and a snack provided!

Saturday, April 27, ALL DAY
Event: Organic Sale

Member-Owners and Student Members save 20% on certified organic products around the Co-op! Non-members save 10%. Save off regular prices!

Did you know that 99% of our Produce Department is organic?!!!

PLUS: We’re giving away 400 LOCAL Seed Savers Exchange Seed Packets!
Starting at 10am, 1 Packet per Family

Stay tuned for fun activities and vendor sampling schedule for that day.

504, 2019

Naturally Dyed Eggs

April 5th, 2019|Categories: Blog|Tags: , |0 Comments

Naturally Dyed Eggs with ingredients

Egg dyeing is a fun way to celebrate this time of year—and it’s a tradition that goes way back—as much as 5,000 years when Persians celebrated springtime with eggs colored with plant-based dyes. Plant dyes can be just as useful today and they’re plentiful; in fact you very well might have dye-worthy ingredients in your kitchen already.

Here are some great plant-based dyes—fruits, vegetables, spices and flowers.

Items Needed

White eggs (or try brown, keeping in mind color results will vary), egg carton, stock pan(s), water, white vinegar, slotted spoon and natural materials for dyeing
(see table).

Optional: Tape, string, rubber bands, cheese cloth squares, natural beeswax crayons to create designs on eggs, and vegetable oil for an extra sheen.

Directions

Hot Bath Method
1. Place uncooked eggs in a stainless steel stock pan. Add water 2-3 inches above eggs. (When using bottled juice, fill 2-3 inches above eggs. Do not add water.) Add natural dye ingredients and 1-2 tablespoons vinegar per quart of water.
2. Cover and bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
3. Carefully remove eggs with a slotted spoon and air dry.

Cold Bath Method
The process for cold dyeing is much the same as the hot method except the eggs and dyes are cooked separately.
1. Simmer the dye ingredients (water, vinegar and dye matter) for 20-30 minutes or longer, until the dye reaches your desired shade.
2. Allow the liquid to cool and submerge hard-boiled eggs in the dye for at least 30 minutes.
3. Carefully remove eggs with a slotted spoon and air dry.

Notes, Tips & Techniques

Color variation: colors may vary depending on steeping time and foods used to dye eggs.

Deeper colors: the longer the eggs stay in the dye, the deeper the color will be; leaving the eggs in the dye for several hours or overnight (in the refrigerator) is recommended for achieving deep colors. Allow the liquid and eggs to cool before refrigerating and ensure that the eggs are completely submerged in the dye. Eggs will be speckled if the dye matter remains in the liquid. For more uniform colors, remove the dye matter from the liquid, by straining the liquid through a coffee filter, before refrigerating.

Egg flavor: the flavor of the egg may change based on the dye, so if you plan to eat your dyed eggs, a shorter dye bath and fresh ingredients may be preferable.

Drying: Make a drying rack by cutting the bottom off an egg carton and turning it upside down.

Decorating:
• Wrap onion skins around eggs, then wrap the entire egg with a cheese cloth square and secure it with string before placing the eggs in the dye.
• Wrap string or rubber bands around eggs before dyeing to create stripes (use rubber bands for cold dyeing only).
• Draw designs on hot, warm or cold hardboiled eggs with crayons. When using hot or warm eggs, the crayon may melt slightly on contact with the egg (if eggs are hot, hold eggs with a potholder or rag to prevent finger burns). Crayon covered eggs should only be dyed in cold dyes as the crayon wax will melt in hot liquids.
• Gently wipe dry dyed eggs with vegetable oil to give eggs an added sheen.

content courtesy of strongertogether.coop

404, 2019

Decide Once

April 4th, 2019|Categories: Blog|Tags: |0 Comments

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.

104, 2019

Member-Owner and Customer Survey

April 1st, 2019|Categories: Blog|0 Comments

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.

2703, 2019

Local Producer Profile: Seed Savers Exchange

March 27th, 2019|Categories: Blog|0 Comments

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.

2802, 2019

March Change for Community Recipient: NAMI of Central Iowa

February 28th, 2019|Categories: Blog, Co-op Nickel|0 Comments

NAMI Logo

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.

Upcoming Events

  1. Make & Take Spice Blends with Saltlickers

    July 25 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
  2. Tiny Deck Concert: Lionessa

    July 26 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
  3. New Member-Owner Orientation

    July 31 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm