Co-Op Conversations First Tuesday of the Month

Nearly 100 people Engage in Co-op Conversations!

We are so excited about the level of interest in the Old Creamery Co-op. Nearly 100 people turned out for six lively “Co-op Conversations” held over the past two months. These small group meetings provided a great forum for members of the Creamery Co-op board of directors to provide an update on how things are going with the transition to a community-owned Old Creamery.

Each meeting was highly interactive – full of questions, ideas and information, and of course great refreshments. We shared what we have learned from our customer surveys, a staff survey, and an outside market study, including evidence that the Creamery is a valued resource now, has great potential to serve the community for a long time, and needs to make some changes to product offerings, service, retail space and parking in order to better meet community (and Co-op member) needs.

We talked about changes that have already been made in the Old Creamery because of the enthusiastic feedback from well over 300 survey respondents. We hope you will notice the addition of breakfast sandwiches to the deli menu, the new weekly sales specials, the new in-store signage, and the re-organized bulletin boards.

A dedicated group of people is currently working with a volunteer architect to develop plans for physical improvements to the building and grounds. The work will improve the space and experience for customers in the store, as well as provide better work flow for staff. We will also increase the shopping space. We hope to unveil the plans for the “New Old Creamery” in the coming weeks.

Throughout these Co-op Conversations people asked, “What can I do to help?” The answers are easy. Do more of your shopping at the Old Creamery and keep telling us what we need to do to make that happen! Help us get more Founding Member-Owners for the Co-op by telling your friends and family about our exciting venture and what you love about the Old Creamery. (The number of founding memberships is a sign of necessary community support and an important indicator of the future viability of the Co-op.)

These Co-op Conversations were so helpful to the Co-op Board, that the board has decided to hold one each month for the foreseeable future. The conversations are open to all and will be held on the first Tuesday of every month at 7:00 PM in the Sustainability Library over the Old Creamery. Registration is required. Please RSVP to outreach@oldcreamery.coop to attend any of these sessions.


Goings-On at the Old Creamery Co-Op by Cherylann Richards

Cherylann Richards is the Outreach Coordinator for the Old Creamery Co-op and writes about the ongoing adventure of working to transition the locally beloved Old Creamery in Cummington into a community owned food cooperative. Cherylann is a past employee of The Old Creamery and completed her Masters of Divinity from Andover Newton Theological School this past May.  She is in the process of becoming an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ and a board certified chaplain with the ultimate goal of working as a medical chaplain.  Cherylann loves Old Creamery made chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and all things outdoors; cross country skiing at Notchview, hiking or swimming with her dog Tula, camping, and bicycling.- Check out Goings-On at the Old Creamery Co-op every third Wednesday of the month.

Beat Cabin Fever at the Old Creamery!

Cure the Winter Doldrums at the Old Creamery

Did you know the Old Creamery in Cummington, MA offers a diverse array of fun free events for everyone?  We encourage you to check out our Community Calendar for all scheduled events from now through June.

The first Friday of every month is Games Night in the cafe.  Bring your family, your friends and your  favorite games to share or use games provided by the Old Creamery.  The Old Creamery provides complimentary popcorn and beverages and schedules this event to start early enough, 6:30 pm, so that children will be able to get their parents home at a reasonable hour.  Games Night is full of fun, laughter and good cheer for all ages.

The second Thursday of the month is Film Night in the Sustainability Library on the second floor of the Old Creamery. Films begin at 7 pm. A series of films is planned on a variety of topics associated with environmental sustainability and critical ecological and social problems.  Discussions in a supportive environment follow each film and complimentary refreshments are served.

The Old Creamery Coffee House tradition continues on the third Thursday of the month at 7:30 pm.  Our community is rich with local artists and the Old Creamery is thrilled to showcase their talents in the café.  Consider coming a bit early to enjoy a dinner from the deli before the show begins.  Baked treats and beverages are available for purchase throughout the evening.

The popular Tastings are held once a month during late winter and spring, on Sunday evenings in the café.  Each month participants learn about and taste samples of some of the special products that the Old Creamery carries.  This year’s series includes tasting of chocolate, olive oils, vinegars, wines, and cheeses.  This series is very popular so pre-registration is required and donations are accepted to help defray the cost of the event.

Along with these Old Creamery sponsored events, the Creamery also hosts the Sustainability Library and the Wholesale Food Buying Club upstairs on the east side of the 2nd floor.  The sustainability library is full of books related to the topic of living sustainably.  These books are available for loan to anyone in the community and there are comfortable chairs that welcome anyone who wants to sit and read in the library.  The Wholesale Food Buying Club has ordering information in the library.  The food deliveries are left in the kitchen upstairs.  Feel free to ask Alice or Amy for assistance if you’re not clear how to use the system.

The Old Creamery is an incredible resource for our community and this is one of the prime reasons for the effort to keep the Old Creamery in the community as a community owned cooperative.  The Old Creamery Co-op is committed to continuing the tradition established by current owners Alice Cozzolino and Amy Pulley of creating and nurturing community.  For more information about the Old Creamery Co-op, join us for one of these  community  events or visit www.oldcreamery.coop or contact me at cherylann@oldcreamery.coop.


Goings-On at the Old Creamery Co-Op by Cherylann Richards

Cherylann Richards is the Outreach Coordinator for the Old Creamery Co-op and writes about the ongoing adventure of working to transition the locally beloved Old Creamery in Cummington into a community owned food cooperative. Cherylann is a past employee of The Old Creamery and completed her Masters of Divinity from Andover Newton Theological School this past May.  She is in the process of becoming an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ and a board certified chaplain with the ultimate goal of working as a medical chaplain.  Cherylann loves Old Creamery made chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and all things outdoors; cross country skiing at Notchview, hiking or swimming with her dog Tula, camping, and bicycling.- Check out Goings-On at the Old Creamery Co-op every third Wednesday of the month.

Seven Principles of Cooperatives

Why a Co-op in Cummington?

In the first few months of working as the Outreach Coordinator of the Old Creamery Co-op I’ve been asked many times, “Why a Co-op?  Why not just keep the Old Creamery as a private business with new owners?”  Well, good questions!  And while we’re at it, “What is a Co-op?”

There are many types and sizes of cooperative businesses and most are structured as for-profit businesses.  Whether it is a small worker owned co-op (like Collective Copies),  a financial organization (like Greenfield Cooperative Bank), or a large producer co-op (like Pachamama Coffee Company), all co-ops have many of the same characteristics as traditional business, and they are unique in several important ways.  One of the biggest and most important differences is that they are democratically controlled by their member-owners, usually on a one-membership/one-vote basis. The fundamental principle of cooperatives is voluntary and open membership.

Another important difference is that co-ops are not motivated by profit alone.  Instead, co-ops exist to provide high quality goods, services, and support and to meet the needs of their members.  The very first co-op was started in Rochdale England in 1844 by a group of 28 weavers and other artisans.  At this time, the advent of mechanization was forcing many skilled workers into extreme poverty. The Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers was formed when these workers banded together to open their own food store so that they would be able to purchase food they could no longer afford. — Read more about the history of the cooperative movement on Wikipedia.

Co-ops are also formed by businesses that come together to meet a common need.  The Old Creamery started in 1886 as a Co-op of local dairy farmers who needed an affordable and accessible way to churn their dairy cream into butter.  Cabot Cheese, sold today at the Old Creamery, is produced by Cabot Creamery a 1,200 farm family dairy cooperative with members in New England and upstate New York.

All cooperatives adhere to Seven Principles:

     

  1. Voluntary and Open Membership
  2. Democratic Member Control
  3. Member Economic Participation
  4. Autonomy and Independence
  5. Education, Training and Information
  6. Cooperation among Cooperatives
  7. Concern for Community
  8.  

Co-ops are families, friends, and neighbors who come together to support each other.  Co-ops support the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity.  Cooperative members believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility, and caring for others both locally and globally.

So, why a co-op in Cummington?   Read the rest of this entry »

The Goings-On at the Old Creamery Co-Op: A History

Holy Cow! A Creamery Co-Op!

The Old Creamery in Cummington, MA (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

The Old Creamery in Cummington began its long presence in the Hilltown community as The Cummington Cooperative Creamery in 1886.  At that time, a co-op of dairy farmers brought fresh cream from their farms to be churned into butter.  During the Co-op’s most active period, 145 dairies produced 20,000 pounds of butter per month. With the advent of widespread refrigeration and motor trucking in the 1940’s, the needs of the community changed and The Old Creamery began a long legacy of transforming itself to respond to those changing needs.

The Old Creamery has at times been a restaurant and at times a general store.  In 1988, the Berenson family merged these two functions when they purchased the building and business and made major renovations including the addition of the sunny café area.  Current owners, Alice Cozzolino and Amy Pulley, purchased the Old Creamery in 2000 and have worked to transform it into a vibrant community hub in the Hilltowns where people love to gather year round to sample the Old Creamery’s delicious fare, shop for groceries, visit with friends, grab a quick breakfast or cup of coffee, read the paper, or more recently surf the internet.

When Alice and Amy began to think about transitioning the Old Creamery to new ownership, they wanted to insure that it would continue as a place dedicated to the needs of the Hilltown community.  Thus began the dream to return the Old Creamery to its cooperative roots.  On January 31st this year, Alice and Amy held an open community meeting to discuss their co-op idea and gauge the response of the community.  The response was overwhelming.  Over 300 community members attended the meeting.  A steering committee was formed and began to work enthusiastically on pursuing the plan.

Throughout the spring, the steering committee made site visits to other local co-ops including Berkshire, Wild Oats, Greenfields Market, Leverett, and Putney VT.  They put together business and communications plans, analyzed the financial history of the current store, created future financial projections, and compiled estimates for purchase and start-up costs.  On July 30th, the founding member-owner drive was launched with a goal of signing up 300 founding member-owners by December 31st.  This goal was reached on October 21st, more than two months ahead of schedule!

On August 6th The Old Creamery Co-op was incorporated as a legal entity in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the steering committee became the Co-op’s first Board of Directors.  The Board of Directors is now engaged in developing a business plan and in raising equity through continuing to sign up founding member-owners — and through grants and loans to the co-op.  There are new founding member-owner goals:  350 by Dec 31, 2010 and 500 by the summer of 2011.  Currently there are 336 founding member-owners.  If you would like more information about what the Co-op is doing, please visit our website www.oldcreamery.coop or email the Co-op’s Outreach Coordinator cherylann@oldcreamery.coop Stay tuned for more exciting news to come!


Old Creamery Co-Op by Cherylann Richards

Cherylann Richards is the Outreach Coordinator for the Old Creamery Co-op and writes about the ongoing adventure of working to transition the locally beloved Old Creamery in Cummington into a community owned food cooperative. Cherylann is a past employee of The Old Creamery and completed her Masters of Divinity from Andover Newton Theological School this past May.  She is in the process of becoming an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ and a board certified chaplain with the ultimate goal of working as a medical chaplain.  Cherylann loves Old Creamery made chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and all things outdoors; cross country skiing at Notchview, hiking or swimming with her dog Tula, camping, and bicycling.- Check out Old Creamery Co-Opevery second Wednesday of the month.

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