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411, 2019

November & December Artist: Kyle Renell

November 4th, 2019|Categories: Art Gallery, Blog|0 Comments

kyle renell

Kyle Renell: Artist Statement

My work concentrates on the interconnectedness and the human condition. This group of drawings includes studies for A Journey of Life, a major work in progress scheduled to premiere in 2020 at Morning Bell Coffee Roastery in Downtown Ames; character development studies; and water studies. The media used varies, and includes graphite powder and pencils, colored pencils, and pastel.

Each framed drawing is $250 (tax included)

2810, 2019

October Produce Parable

October 28th, 2019|Categories: Blog|0 Comments

Hall’s Orchard

By Adam Calder
Wheatsfield Produce Manager

We are excited to feature a new local apple orchard in our produce department: Hall’s Orchard in Madrid, Iowa.

The orchard was planted over 30 years ago by Rex and Pauline Hall. They sold their apples from a stand next to their house. Rex and Pauline recently decided to retire and turned over management of their orchard to Steve Carlson.

Carlson had been doing business with the Halls for a few years when they approached him about managing their orchard. “I live nearby, I’ve got my own little orchard,” Carlson said, “and it’s about an acre that’s not in production yet. I’d been coming out here to get seconds and windfalls to make cider with. Just in the last year they asked me if I was interested in taking over the main business.  So this year is my first full year doing the whole start to finish, from pruning to mowing.”

Carlson manages Hall’s Orchard using integrated pest management practices, which involve minimal applications of sprays and more hand labor to maintain apple yields and tree vigor. “Bigger scale orchards will do chemical thinning where you spray lightly with some sort of chemical thinner and then the tree drops half its fruit and the fruit that’s left can size up bigger,” Carlson said. “But on this scale, it’s all done by hand. Some of the trees don’t need it, like these Jonagold. But we’ll see some of the Golden Delicious trees that are here are just loaded. One of the hardest things I’ve had to do is pick these and throw them out. But it makes for bigger, better fruit.”

Codling moths are one of the biggest pests on the orchard, and Carlson uses small red plastic traps spread throughout the orchard to manage the insects. “At this scale, it’s easy enough to walk around and look for that. Something about this color attracts them. And this is a pheromone plug that releases a pheromone to try and draw them in.”

The trap has a sticky mat on its base, and when the moths land they cannot leave.  Carlson then checks the traps for moths to decide if he needs to take action or not. “You just come out and mark and keep an eye on how much activity has been in there,” Carlson said.

Another orchard pest is fire blight, a major problem in Iowa apple orchards which can devastate an entire orchard in one growing season. “Fire blight is a fungal disease,” Carlson said. “You can use an anti-biotic spray, but the best thing to do is to cut off the limbs affected by fire blight during the dormant season and burn them because it will easily transfer to other trees. This year, we did an early spring spray to try and prevent fire blight. Once everything greened up and bloomed up you could see that fire blight was here. You can spray every couple weeks to try and contain it, but it’s expensive and it’s something I don’t want to put on my trees. I also don’t want fire blight to spread to the rest of the orchard. This winter I’m just going to cut out all the limbs that are affected and burn them.”

In addition to managing the Hall’s Orchard, Carlson has his own smaller orchard near Madrid, where he focuses on unique or heirloom apple varieties. “I’ve grafted about 70 apple trees and planted them,” Carlson said. “All of those cuttings I’ve taken from existing trees that I’ve found on other orchards. I basically just have a collection, I’m trying to hang on to a bunch of interesting rare stuff I’ve gotten through Seed Savers Exchange and through other growers. I’ve only been planting in the last two to three years so I’ve got a few fruits on some of the trees out there.”

Carlson gestured to a few rows of trees with leaves that look like they are made of green and brown lace, and explains how this is all that’s left of his Honeycrisp apple trees. “All of these are Honeycrisp, and the Japanese beetle just decimated them,” Carson said. His master’s research was in agricultural anthropology and he studied the effects of climate change on apple diversity in western North Carolina. He found that one of the biggest drivers for loss of diversity within apple species is consumer demand for Honeycrisp. Carlson said, “Honeycrisp apples take too much work, too many sprays, too many soil amendments. The nice thing about having the Honeycrisp trees though is that the Japanese beetles did come in but they did not really bother the rest of the trees.  It’s like a trap crop, it takes all the pressure off the other trees.”

When asked about his future plans, Carlson said he wants to get Iowans in touch with the apple diversity heritage of this state, and to do so with commercial success. “Going back to the research I did on heirloom apple varieties and species diversity, I would like to get into the commercial production of rare and interesting fruit. That requires more education but that is what is fascinating to me. This apple might not be good for fresh eating, but it makes the best sauce you’ve ever had, and it was grown by this family in this region for this many years…I just love all those cultural connections between food and community.”

Carlson spent several years working at Seed Savers Exchange and has been gardening most of his life. He mentioned that a lot of his background with fruits and vegetables came from working at Hy-Vee during high school and college in the produce department. “That’s kind of what sparked an interest initially in fruits and vegetables, and specifically in apple varieties and is what finally led me down to study heirloom apple diversity and the changes from the effects of climate change on apple diversity,” he said. Carlson got his degree at the University of North Texas, one of the few programs in the U.S. that does agricultural anthropology, essentially the study of farmers.

“I feel very passionately about supporting local food production,” Carlson said. “I’m grateful for the chances that I get to put products in front of people that are an alternative, especially apples.  Apple production in the Unites States is kind of a scary thing because it’s all done in Washington and Michigan and we get tons of apples from New Zealand, but Iowa used to be number 6 in the nation for apple production.  Iowa has a history of apple growing and I’d love to connect with that apple growing heritage again. I’d like to bring it back to people and show them that local apple production is so possible in Iowa but it takes consumer support to get orchards like this to make it worth it.”

2510, 2019

September Board Meeting Highlights

October 25th, 2019|Categories: Blog|0 Comments

1. The Board declared a dividend on preferred shares for the 2018 fiscal year. These 4% dividends on preferred shares are paid annually at the discretion of the Board.

2. Wheatsfield closed the window for member loan extensions and conversions to preferred shares as of Sept. 30. The conversion campaign was very successful, we converted or extended 40 out of 52 member loans. The Board wishes to thank the member lenders, shareholders, and Wheatsfield staff for their work on this project.

3. Wheatsfield had an independent accountant review the co-op’s financial statements, as is typically done each year.

4. As the Board terms come toward an end for the year, the Board would like to thank Penny Brown-Huber for her 12 years of service on the Board of Directors through two expansion projects, her two years as Board President, and her leadership in Iowa’s local foods community.

5. The Annual Meeting of the Members was Tuesday, Oct. 22 at Torrent Brewery (a new venue for us!), Wonderful to see so many of you there!

210, 2019

Board Candidate Statements

October 2nd, 2019|Categories: Blog|0 Comments

Jeff Kushkowski

Statement of Candidacy

Why do you want to serve on the Wheatsfield Board of Directors?

One of my early childhood memories is collecting eggs on my grandfather’s chicken farm (I
hated reaching under the chickens!). The nearby co-op provided a market for his eggs. Last
year I volunteered to be a member of the Wheatsfield Finance Committee and that experience
sparked a desire to be more involved. Wheatsfield’s success is due to the dedication of staff,
volunteers, and members who support the store. I want to be a part of that continued success
by serving as a board member to support Wheatsfield’s mission to provide local, sustainable
food to the community.

Please describe any skills or experience (such as financial literacy, legal, strategic planning,
communications, etc.) that you would bring to the Wheatsfield Board of Directors. 

I am a professor at the ISU Library, where I am the Instruction and Information Services Coordinator. I’m also the subject librarian for business and economics. I teach about library business resources to students and faculty in the Ivy College of Business; consult with faculty and graduate students about research projects, and serve on a committee that directs the entrepreneurship minor curriculum at ISU. Beyond the teaching and research consultations, my experience includes strategic planning, policy development, staff evaluation (both at the library and for external promotion and tenure reviews at other institutions), and staff training and development.

What are your hopes for the future of Wheatsfield and its role in the community? 

I want to see Wheatsfield continue to provide an experience that includes partnering with local producers, providing educational programs, and supporting the greater Ames Community. It would be great to see Wheatsfield partner with ISU to provide opportunities for student interns to learn about the business side of sustainable agriculture. There are opportunities to share how Wheatsfield contributes to sustainable food systems with community and faith groups in Ames. This would another avenue for educating the community about the value of sustainable, local food and Wheatsfield’s mission.

Please share anything about yourself including hobbies, passions, family members, etc. 

Baseball is a passion – I’ve been a Boston Red Sox fan since I was young. I catch as many games as I can on radio or in person when the team is nearby. My hobbies are travel, cooking, reading, and cross stitch. I’ve traveled extensively with my family – we have been to all 50 US state capitols and over 60 national parks and monuments. I spent a week at the Culinary Institute of America to celebrate earning tenure. My spouse works in the School of Education at ISU and a daughter who is a graduate student in Chicago.

Liz Kolbe

Statement of Candidacy

Why do you want to serve on the Wheatsfield Board of Directors?

I believe cooperatives like Wheatsfield are vital to economic and community development around local food and agricultural systems.

I was first elected to the Wheatsfield Board in 2013 and was re-elected in 2016. As we continue to grow into our new space and attend to loans incurred during the expansion, I want continue serving the membership as a board member through another term. I have been impressed with the management and employees of Wheatsfield, and the many members who have shown their support by shopping, investing, or donating to the coop.

Please describe any skills or experience (such as financial literacy, legal, strategic planning, communications, etc.) that you would bring to the Wheatsfield Board of Directors.

I feel that my knowledge base, skill-set and personality are well-suited to communicating with members and reaching sound decisions with board members and management. When I was first elected as a newly-arrive Ames resident I was interested in the Coop and local foods; now I am also invested in the people that drive those systems!

A list of my resume skills may include: Data management and analysis, knowledge of food systems, experience with other food cooperatives, non-profit work, grant-writing, strategic communication, interpersonal communication, listening, teamwork, event planning, project management, facilitation.

What are your hopes for the future of Wheatsfield and its role in the community?

For many years Wheatsfield has offered natural products and provided the community space to connect with one another. While others stores now also offer some natural products, Wheatsfield remains unique in its focus on local products, and its sustained commitment to community engagement. I hope we continue to find new ways to invite customers to connect with the local economy through their shopping, and to sit and visit with each other longer and more frequently. I also hope the store will continue to be profitable and provide patronage to members.

Please share anything about yourself including hobbies, passions, family members, etc.

I grew up in Grinnell. I earned my Bachelor’s degree at Colorado College and a Master’s degree in Agroecosystems Management at The Ohio State University. While living in Wooster, OH, I was a “super-volunteer” at our local food coop, Local Roots. In 2013 I moved back to Iowa, to Ames, to work at Practical Farmers of Iowa. My job at PFI is to help fruit and vegetable farmers conduct on-farm research and facilitate farmer-led events where farmers serve as the experts, creating and sharing agricultural knowledge. In my free time I enjoy playing almost any sport and being outside.

Stefan Gailans

Statement of Candidacy

Why do you want to serve on the Wheatsfield Board of Directors?

I wish to continue to serve my favorite grocery store and one of my favorite places in Ames. I love the sense of community and well being that Wheatsfield Cooperative promotes. I have enjoyed working with a diverse group of fellow directors, learning more about how the coop operates, and watching Wheatsfield become a very special part of the Ames community while serving on the board for the past nine years. I wish to continue working with the enthusiastic board and the store’s talented general manager, and help to grow Wheatsfield’s success and popularity.

Please describe any skills or experience (such as financial literacy, legal, strategic planning, communications, etc.) that you would bring to the Wheatsfield Board of Directors.

I have served on the board of directors for the past nine years and while doing so have familiarized myself with many of the inner-workings and facets of Wheatsfield in terms of its decision making, financial status, organizational policies, and responsibility to its members and community. For the past two years I have served as board president. As changes and competition have entered the grocery landscape in Ames and challenged Wheatsfield, my experience on the board and familiarity with the cooperative puts me in a position to help Wheatsfield persevere through these challenges. I am ready and willing to continue to serve!

What are your hopes for the future of Wheatsfield and its role in the community?

A successful Wheatsfield for all to enjoy! Wheatsfield has become a fixture in Downtown Ames – known as THE source for locally- and sustainably-sourced foods as well as a community gathering space. This combination of offerings and community is what sets it apart from other food retailers – the dedicated staff deserves most of the credit and praise for this. With Wheatsfield’s importance to its members and local community ever rising, I see more opportunities for sourcing locally raised foods and more opportunities for offering popular events. In the future, I can only see Wheatsfield growing in terms of its role in our members’ and future members’ lives.

Please share anything about yourself including hobbies, passions, family members, etc.

I have been a member-owner of Wheatsfield since 2008. As Wheatsfield became more and more important to me I decided to run for election to the board of directors in 2010 and give back to Wheatsfield. I can safely say that I have never regretted that decision! I am the research and field crops director at Practical Farmers of Iowa, a farmer-led non-profit organization. In my role I help farmers design research trials to answer specific questions they have about their farming practices in the spirit of improving their environmental stewardship and economic well-being. I spend much of my time with friends and colleagues discussing issues in sustainable agriculture and preparing good food (much of which is of course obtained from local farmers and Wheatsfield!). I also enjoy fishing, hunting, gardening, and good science fiction. I live in the Old Town Neighborhood of Ames with my wife, Catherine DeLong.

210, 2019

October Change for Community Recipient: ACCESS

October 2nd, 2019|Categories: Blog, Co-op Nickel|0 Comments

ACCESS Assault Care Center

Their fundraising campaign, called Frame Our Future, is to replace and repair windows and a sliding-glass door that were incorrectly installed, causing rot and other damage to our emergency shelter. The damage became apparent during an inspection. The fundraising campaign will help to not only fix the issue, but prevent future damage from taking place.

ACCESS’ mission is to address the roots and impact of domestic/sexual violence, stalking, harassment and other violent crimes, through services that enhance safety, empower survivors, and promote understanding and social justice within the community.

The organization provides a variety of services to survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, stalking, harassment and homicide which include counseling, housing and shelter assistance, support groups and crisis response services. ACCESS serves Story, Boone, Greene, Tama and Marshall counties.

3009, 2019

September Produce Parable – J&B Chestnut Farm Update

September 30th, 2019|Categories: Blog|0 Comments

September 2019 Produce Parable
By Adam Calder

The wet spring we had in Iowa this year is still causing problems even as we enter into the fall months. I recently received a letter from John Wittrig, the owner of J&B’s Chestnut Farm in Winfield, IA, and the news was not good:

“Dear Friends, early on we suspected our chestnut trees were in trouble. Now we’re sure, sorry to say, J&B’s will have NO crop at all this year. The consensus among us chestnut farmers in Iowa was too much rain last spring drowned the roots, so we did not see, nor smell, the normal pollination. We hope for better weather and a larger crop next year. Sincerely, John Wittrig.”

Wheatsfield has sold hundreds of pounds of these delicious organic chestnuts over the years. Scores of our customers look forward to picking up a pound or two of these autumnal treats to add to their stuffing or dressing for a special holiday meal. It is a shame to have to deny anyone such a simple pleasure, and even more so that there will be no profit from the harvest and sale of their chestnuts at the Wittrig farm this year.

As the planet warms and climates shift, rainfall patterns change all around the world causing crop failures like this to become more common. It is important to support local farmers whenever you can to help them hedge their bets against future weather induced crop loss. If Iowa has a normal amount of rainfall next spring the chestnut trees will likely produce a large crop. If we get unusually high spring rainfall, we may not see chestnuts next year either.

1809, 2019

The Power of Many, A Word From the Board

September 18th, 2019|Categories: Blog|0 Comments

Ron Eichmeier

Board Treasurer

Where did the Summer go? As you read this, we’re just past the Labor Day holiday, and will soon be enjoying a wonderful Autumn in Iowa. If you haven’t already done so, be sure to take some time to enjoy the weather, scenery, and all that Iowa has to offer with this season.

As a “sports guy,” one of my favorite fall activities is football. No matter who you root for, the pre-game tailgates, the games, and post-game celebrations provide us all with an opportunity to catch up with old friends and make new ones. Of course, as you plan tailgates and celebrations, don’t forget what Wheatsfield has to offer. Fresh and top-quality brats, burgers, and chicken from your Co-op should be on the menu. Add to that the best produce around, outstanding bakery products, and a great beverage selection; and you’re pretty much assured of having an impressive food experience. Of course, whether you tailgate or are just looking to provide a great meal for family and friends, Wheatsfield can provide you products second to none!

As the “news” part of this newsletter, I’d like to share some information with you; and make a request. First the information. The first registered cooperative (mutual fire insurance company) was formed in 1752 by Benjamin Franklin. On the food side, there were a number of Dairy & Cheese Cooperatives formed in 1810. Whether it’s fire insurance or food, the original co-op concept was “the power of many is stronger than that of any individual.” That concept still rings true today, however we see significant competition from other business models. For the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2019, Wheatsfield Co-op’s sales were down about 6% from the previous year, down about 10% from two years ago, and about 75% of the sales projected when the store improvement project was started. You are 1 of 6000+ Wheatsfield Co-op members, and about 4800 of you are active shoppers at your Co-op.

My request is that you consider making products purchased from Wheatsfield a higher percentage of your weekly food budget. For those of you who already purchase everything that you need here, a genuine THANK YOU. Be assured that it is greatly appreciated. For others, if there’s more you can do, please consider that. Quick math says that if 4800 members each spent another $10/week at the Co-op, annual sales would increase by $2,496,000 for the year. Increasing to $15 more/week moves the sales line up $3,744,000, and go a long way toward improving the “bottom line.” Truly an example of “the power of many.”

To wrap up, your past and continued support is greatly appreciated. We look forward to seeing you at the Wheatsfield Annual Meeting on October 22nd.

609, 2019

September & October Artist: Tricia Bowers

September 6th, 2019|Categories: Art Gallery, Blog|0 Comments

As a person and an artist I value beauty above all, and color is by far my favorite quality of reality and the universe.  As a painter I am free to explore and experiment with color, using different and fun techniques to share my beauty.  I make mostly abstract art, focusing on the moment of creation, on the passion of feeling inspired and the intense eruption of color that my hands are able to bring into the world and onto a canvas.

I use acrylic paint and food coloring for my art, utilizing spray bottles and the swift motion of flinging color.  I paint on canvas, as well as on pavement and the outside world.  While the act of painting for me is often very quick and messy, the results come together in a way that is beautiful and surprising, and in the end incredibly fun.

learn more about Tricia here.

3008, 2019

Using Debit or Credit? Is there a difference?

August 30th, 2019|Categories: Blog|0 Comments

Does it make a difference if I use my credit card or debit card to pay at the checkout counter? This is a question many have asked and the simplified answer is yes, the least costly method of payment for Wheatsfield is always cash and then check; however if you choose to use a debit or credit card to pay for the transaction, which one to use depends on the transaction amount. The world of interchange fees is very complicated and confusing for most of us to understand. A basic understanding of the difference between the two types of transactions is that credit card transaction has a fixed fee plus a cost based on the transaction amount while a debit card is a fixed fee.

Credit card transactions are processed by a third party vendor and the fees they charge will vary depending on the vendor we contract with to process our transactions. We contract with a preferred vendor through National Cooperative Grocer Association and that organization negotiates the lowest fees for all members. The fees will vary from 1% to 2.95% of the transaction amount plus a flat fee of $.05 to $.26 per transaction. These fees fluctuate depending on what type of credit card is used. As an example Master Card may charge 2.95% of the transaction plus a flat fee of $.10 while American Express may be 2.25% of the transaction plus a flat fee of $.06 per transaction. This gets even more complex because the fee, charged by each issuer also will depend on whether the card used is a rewards card or another promotional type card.

While debit cards look like credit cards, the transaction is handled more like an electronic check rather than an actual credit charge. Debit card transactions are processed though your bank and the fees associated with each transaction are a flat fee which will range between $.25 and .385 per transaction depending on the bank involved and the issuer the bank chooses.

How does your choice at checkout affect your Co-op? From July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019, Wheatsfield has incurred $100,969.24 in interchange fees associated with the use of credit and debit cards. While these fees are a cost of doing business, as a member you may want to know how you can help keep these fees to a minimum. As a general rule of thumb, if you have a transaction of $5.00 or less and you want to use your credit or debit card to pay for the transaction, using a credit card at the checkout counter would minimize the fees charged to the Co-op. If the transaction is over $5.00, the use of a debit card for payment would generate the lowest fees.

Interchange fees are like most things in the world and are subject to change. Legislation was passed recently to address the amount of fees being charged; however there is disagreement on how to implement the change as well as concern as to the effects the change will have on the economy. While you can’t control what will happen in the future, you can use the above information as a guide to make decisions on using credit or debit cards at Wheatsfield to minimize the impact of the fees associated with their use.

3008, 2019

September Change For Community Recipient: Friends of Ames High Prairie

August 30th, 2019|Categories: Blog, Co-op Nickel|0 Comments

Pohl Prairie, commonly referred to as the Ames high Prairie, is a 22-acre native prairie remnant west of Ames High School. Named after Dr. Richard W. Pohl, Distinguished Professor of Botany at ISU, it serves as an outdoor learning laboratory for ISU and Ames High School students. It is owned by the Ames Community School District, managed by The Nature Conservancy of Iowa and is part of the State Preserve System which protects it from development.

The prairie is an example of what Iowa looked like before the landscape was converted to agricultural use. Iowa has the most altered landscape of any US state with less than one tenth of one percent of that topography remaining.

Before settlement, the prairie routinely burned, which kept the landscape free of most invasive species. Today controlled burns and hand removal do what prairie fires did in the past. The Friends of Ames High Prairie, is a volunteer group that works to help maintain the prairie, removing excess trees and non-native plants. As well, Ames High Biology classes preform significant restoration work.

2708, 2019

August 2019 Produce Parable

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

By Adam Calder

Usually around this time of the season we have an abundance of local produce available at Wheatsfield Cooperative, and this year is no exception!

The local cantaloupe melons have been selling by the bin-full, and rightly so!  They are juicy, ripe, and emit an enchanting musk that lures you in with daydreams of slow summer Sunday afternoons snacking on these delightful fruits.

Our produce department is thick with local tomatoes.  From your standard red slicing tomato for sandwiches to the unique shapes, colors, sizes and flavors of the many heirloom tomatoes we carry, we’ve got your tomato needs covered.  If you’re looking for a tomato snack, our Iowa grown grape and cherry tomatoes will hit the spot.

What would a fresh, local tomato be without some tangy basil to go with it?  Well we’ve got that too, and while the local basil we carry is greenhouse grown and available year round, the basil takes on an especially delicious flavor during the long daylight hours of the summer months.

Don’t forget the local sweet corn!  Have you really enjoyed summer if you haven’t had a cob of corn in your mouth?  Sure, it may just be a clever way to deliver salt and butter to your mouth, but what a sublime delivery method!  The season for local sweet corn is as short as the corn is sweet, so if you see some, grab it quick! It might not be there tomorrow.

The local greens have been in good, steady supply this season and the flavor has been exceptionally good.  The bugs have taken note of this, as the local organic lacinato kale, chards and collard greens have been coming in looking a little tattered from bug bites.  Think of the bug-induced holes in the leaves as marks of endorsement left by vegan connoisseurs.

We’ve got a plentiful supply of local organic beets, cabbage, cilantro, green beans, jalapeno peppers, green bell peppers, red bell peppers, orange bell peppers, purple globe eggplant, zucchini squash, summer squash and cucumbers too!

The local blueberries are coming in strong, and we’ve just started to get a taste of the early summer apples.  As we move out of summer and into fall, the apple variety availability will explode and our produce department will be overrun with delicious, colorful, aromatic, crunchy local apples!

If you bought just one of every local produce item available at the co-op right now, your cart would be bountiful and full.  If you threw in just a few of the many options we carry store wide for local meats, cheeses, breads, beers, wines, jams and herbs your cart would quickly be overflowing.

It’s easy to sell the idea that your store has all the offerings of a local farmers market. It is an entirely different undertaking to actually have those local products available for sale. You need to have a dedicated group of staff who work tirelessly with the local community of farmers, butchers, cheese makers, brewers, artisans, craftsmen and craftswomen to make it happen, which is exactly what we do at Wheatsfield.

Upcoming Events

  1. Double Deal Tuesday

    December 17
  2. $5 Dinner

    December 17 @ 4:30 pm - 7:00 pm
  3. Board Meeting

    December 18 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
  4. Coffee with the Board

    December 21 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm