The Watertown area is for a healthy treat. A member-owned organic food cooperative is in the works.
The Coteau Community Market is a sustainable food system that will provide the public with organic food with minimal waste and plans to open this fall.
Annie Mullin moved to Watertown with her chickens to be closer to her parents. Her chickens and their farm-fresh eggs, as well as a childhood of farmers’ markets and gardening, inspired her to steer her diet in a different direction.
“I had completely changed the way I eat. I grew it or got it from a local farmer, the local co-op farmers market, or Natural Grocers,” Mullin said. “It is important to know how your food is grown.”
When Mullin found out that Watertown was missing this network and the food cooperative, she decided to change that.
“Let’s make a place to sell what they produce that’s open year round,” Mullin said.
In 2018, Mullin began by creating a steering committee to help legally establish the cooperative. In November 2018, it was incorporated and had set policies and goals.
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“We have a wonderful non-discrimination policy. We are working on a declaration of diversity, equity and inclusion and we are looking at how to make sure that these two words are not just empty words, but how to put them in action Everyone is welcome, even if you are not a member The goal is to make healthy food accessible to everyone, and part of that is affordability Healthy eating is not a privilege It’s a right, ”Mullin said.
The diversity aspect is one of the ways the co-op sets itself apart from other health food stores. The ability to provide unique grain, dairy, dairy, and meat options is a blessing for families with diverse backgrounds and different dietary needs.
Local organizations and individuals take note of this inclusion and have mobilized to bring the store to life. The Glacial Lakes Multicultural Center helped translate information about the cooperative for the Spanish speaking community.
“We are trying to accommodate all the communities in this region,” said Mullin.
Unlike a regular grocery store that offers healthy, organic food options, the Coteau Community Market keeps its food sources within a 150 mile radius of Watertown whenever possible. This has many advantages, including the limitation of processing, preservatives and fuel to transport the goods. It truly supports local producers and producers.
“Most modern food co-ops are just an organic version of a grocery store. Just because it’s organic doesn’t mean it’s not processed. It’s not better for you,” he said. Mullin said.
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One of the various local food options will be to use a flour mill in the store. Buyers will have the option of purchasing really fresh flour that is not bleached or stale to sit on a shelf for months before purchasing.
“Most people have never tasted fresh flour before,” said Mullin.
The mill will also offer grain varieties that will help provide alternatives for people with gluten allergies.
True to its mission, the grains will be grown locally, and some will be supplied by Stengel Seed and Grain, a Milbank company specializing in organic processing for 40 years.
“All my life scientists have said that we have to change what we do, but nothing has changed. We need to actively and physically change the way we grow and sell our food. We need to get as close as possible to zero waste. we can get it, ”Mullin said.
Education on environmental health, the impact of sustainable agriculture and local consumption are all part of the cooperative process. Mullin plans to use the store as a place to teach food preparation and preservation techniques. A commercial kitchen within the store will also allow small producers to prepare their food products for sale. She also uses her network as an opportunity to raise awareness and encourage the diversity of crops among local producers.
“I want the market to educate not only consumers but also producers,” she said. “It is really possible to grow these things, and you don’t need chemicals and fertilizers to do it. Growers can improve the environment and be economically sustainable. Consumers can vote with their money. market will pay fair wages and by buying from local producers it keeps money in the community.
So that the Coteau Community Market is faithful to its mission of being accessible to all, Mullin also seeks to make the products sold in stores accessible to individuals in food assistance.
Seed funds of $ 120,000 are required. Mullen said they’re a third of the way. These funds include contributions already collected.
A storefront on Kemp Avenue is the promising new home for the Coteau Community Market, and Mullin said she will continue to campaign until she can reach the necessary membership numbers. A membership is a one-time membership fee of $ 100. Memberships are not required to shop at the co-op once it is open.
“It’s a one-time investment. It’s an investment in yourself, your health and your community,” said Mullin. “It’s about food justice, food security and food sovereignty. Food Safety: We’ve all seen the queues at food scraps during the pandemic. Sovereignty: the right to access and grow the foods that matter to you Food justice: for all those who find themselves stuck with junk food because of working low income or because of their race or origin ethnic and fresh foods are more expensive.
For more information or to become a member, visit www.coteau.coop.