By Joshua Youngblood
It was an exciting summer for New Leaf Market. It began in June with New Leaf Market being named Tallahassee’s Small Business of the Year by the Chamber of Commerce and concluded with our Annual Owners’ Meeting in August. The Chamber’s honor is further recognition of the great work being accomplished by General Manager Larrane Hartridge and the management team. And it is evidence of New Leaf Market’s role as a leading institution in the community. Also in June, Board Treasurer June Wiaz and I had the honor of representing New Leaf Market at the Consumer Cooperative Management Association (CCMA), a national cooperative convention held this year in Bloomington, Indiana. At the conference, we had the opportunity to learn from other co-ops around the country and soak up their energy. But we were also able to share the many successes of our co-op.
One of the successes that co-ops around the country were interested in learning about is our Farm Tour. The 3rd Annual Farm Tour is coming up October 23-24 and, speaking for the Board, we can’t wait. The event has grown ever year, allowing our co-op to turn the spotlight on the farmers that provide great produce and honey, eggs, and meat for the region. Just as importantly, the Farm Tour is a way for New Leaf Market to illustrate the connections between local food systems, local business, and the greater-Tallahassee community. Like the wonderful educational seminars provided in the store, the outreach to area schools and organizations, and all the other work our co-op does beyond just selling great products, the Farm Tour represents how New Leaf Market’s principles and mission are intrinsically linked to the community we are a part of.
The Co-op allows us to express our ideals through our consumer choices and help shape the community we live in. Like all businesses, New Leaf Market has to be profitable. But unlike some other businesses that provide groceries and health supplies—even some of those that sell local, natural, and organic products—the success of New Leaf Market and the money co-op owners and non-owners invest in it go right back into the community. The Co-op is your community. The success of the Co-op and our good deeds don’t help grow investors’ profits in some other state, or help brandish a larger corporate image, it goes directly to help make Tallahassee and the surrounding area stronger and a better place to live.
The ideals and aspirations for our co-op are expressed through our Ends policies; our statement of what the ultimate outcomes of our co-op will help create. The Ends policies were a primary focus of our August 15, 2010 Annual Meeting (see page six for more about the Ends). We had a very successful meeting and thanks to everyone who came. Two excellent recipients were chosen for our two scholarships, Kendra Lay and Eric Hopkins. (Special thanks to Denise Tansey for her hard work as a non-Board member on the Scholarship committee.) It was great to talk to the owners who attended, to hear their concerns, and have the opportunity to share the Co-op’s success. At the meeting, the management and the Board were able to inform the owners, that once again, New Leaf Market completed a year financially stronger and with more owners while expanding the high-quality products and services we provide to the Tallahassee area–a strong position to be in as we face new challenges and potential for greater growth in the future.