Faces + Places

Friendly City Food Co-op: Bringing local farmers, producers, vendors and cooperators to Downtown Harrisonburg

You probably know that Friendly City Food Co-op strives to bring local products from a variety of local growers, bakers and producers to downtown Harrisonburg. Their collaboration with local vendors means there are local items in every single aisle and every department of the co-op grocery store.

You probably also know that Friendly City is a cooperative, but do you know what that means for you, their Owner or shopper, and how it is related to their commitment to sourcing from local farmers and producers?

At last count, approximately 1500 people in our community, each of who have purchased an equal share, cooperatively own Friendly City. Their Owners are students, farmers, business owners, yoga instructors, lawyers, artists, teachers, foodservice employees, retail workers, writers, massage therapists, parents, Friendly City employees, *enter any other profession/walk of life here* because anyone can be an Owner. Together, these folks elect a Board of Directors who employs the General Manager, Steve.

Steve meets with the Board on at least a monthly basis and is responsible for hiring of the Team and managing the daily business of the store. The Board’s job is to communicate the vision of the Owners to Steve, who along with the Team implements that vision into the reality. Along with Owner input, the store is  also guided by an Ends Statement that describes how our community is different because Friendly City exists:

Friendly City Food Co-op Ends Statement.

Friendly City Food Co-op Ends Statement.

It is very obvious from their Ends Statement that Friendly City is committed to supporting local vendors and therefore the local economy, but it still may not be obvious why. Well, it is actually a cycle of reasoning that serves to meet all of our Ends:

  • The Ownership wants the co-op grocery store to support local vendors who have established sustainable practices that are good for our community and environment.
  • For Friendly City to meet that need, our community has to have a strong agricultural economy and for that to happen, the grocery store must work closely with each and every farmer, vendor, baker and producer to make sure that not only is the grocery store able to sell the local product to their Owners and shoppers, but also that the producer is financially and economically stronger by doing business with the grocery store and supported in their sustainable practices.
  • Once that relationship is established and strong, a circuit is created, allowing Friendly City’s Owners to directly support  local producers and farmers through the co-op grocery store.
  • This support from Owners, shoppers and local producers allows the Friendly City Food Co-op to seek out and establish new relationships with local farmers and producers, growing our selection of local products and economic support of local agriculture.
  • Through the cycle, money is re-invested here in our local economy, in our farmers, in our producers, in our bakers.

Now that you understand the reasoning behind supporting  local vendors, let me share with you a story.

Hopefully this event is going to be news to you – not because it was a secret, but because when this happened, our local vendors came through to save the day and make sure our shelves stayed full so our shoppers and Owners never had to wonder why we didn’t have any chicken. As I am sure you are aware, the East Coast has been the brunt of quite the onslaught of weather recently. The Friendly City carries FreeBird chicken, the farms for which are located in Pennsylvania. The distributer for that chicken is Albert’s Organics, located in North Carolina (we know that makes no sense, but that is another story). Right before the big snowstorm a few weeks ago, the northeast experienced its own snowstorm at the same time. First, the grocery store got a call that FreeBird was unable to get their chickens to Alberts’ warehouse due to the weather up north. No worries, we thought; we will just substitute another regional, natural chicken through Albert’s Organic. Then, Albert’s called back and cancelled their delivery because of the icy weather in the south. Then, it became very obvious we were going to get a bunch of snow here that would likely delay the possibility of a poultry delivery for an entire week. In co-op days, that is a really long time and because we are small, we don’t keep a lot of inventory. Luckily, we are a part of a strong, close-nit agricultural community. The FreeBird chicken ran out pretty fast as expected. But, not once were we without poultry in our meat case.

When we saw we were going to run out of chicken right before the store, we knew whatever solution we came up with had to be a quick and very local one. We put in a call to Heartland Harvest. We have stocked their wheat berries and pancake mix for quite some time, but they also have a farm store where they sell meat cuts in Mount Solon. They generously sold us chicken out of their own store inventory to make sure we were able to meet the needs of folks stocking up at the co-op before the snow. Then on Saturday, J&L Green Farm came by to bring us our regular delivery of poultry and eggs. All it took was one look at our meat case and a short conversation, and it was magically full with cuts of local poultry to ensure we had chicken to offer until our delivery got here the next Monday.

To make sure the point is not lost in this kind of complicated chain of events: We were unable to source from our regional producers and our neighbor farmers came through to make sure YOU, our community, had access to quality chicken.

It also bears mentioning, that we did not run out of Mt. Crawford Creamery milk or Shenandoah Valley Family Farms or Edgewood Farm eggs because they are our neighbors. Golden Angels Apiary made a same day delivery before the snow to make sure we had our shelves stocked in case she got snowed in.

Friendly City_Polyface Turkeys

And the thing is, even though the importance of our local producers really shines through in emergency weather and an impending snow situation, they are actually that amazing on a regular basis. Our farmers deliver directly to our back door on almost a weekly basis. You also may see them shopping here, or distributing their CSA shares. You have probably also seen one of our local producers stocking their product on the shelf or putting goodies in the bakery case. What this means is that we, the co-op are in constant communication with our local farmers and producers, evaluating our relationships and adjusting to make sure that our mutual needs, and the needs of our Ownership and shoppers are met.

Friendly City Food Co-op_Radical Roots Drop Off

As a community member, I invite you to stop by Friendly City Food Co-op. You do not have to be an Owner to shop, so join us for a cup of coffee, a cart full of delicious local products, an irresistible treat or your entire grocery list, a Mardi Gras celebration or even a conversation about Changing the Way We Eat. We are excited to have you downtown and to introduce you to your local farmers, producers and bakers!

Friendly City Food CO-op_Co-op Visit

Erin Shehane is the Marketing and Owner Services Coordinator at the Friendly City Food Co-op. 

35 thoughts on “Friendly City Food Co-op: Bringing local farmers, producers, vendors and cooperators to Downtown Harrisonburg

  1. Reblogged this on Life's Craziness and commented:
    We LOVE the Co-op. They are our neighbors and although they weren’t open when we moved here there was talk of it. In the beginning, they, mainly Suzi, the Board, and Steve created something that this entire community should be proud of. When they opened it was a sign of “finally!” to have a store like this not only in our area, but downtown!

    Now it’s fun to go in there, notice the newbies with the peanut butter machine, and help them out. We love seeing what is on sale so we can try something new. We love the samples and contests they run. Which type of milk do you like best? Which eggnog? You’ll likely never buy cow’s milk, hemp milk, oat milk, and soy milk at the same time to compare, but FCFC has these activities for you and you can now know you really like oak milk. You learn a lot, you eat healthier, you interact when you enter a pie bake-out, and you buy local. What’s not to love?

  2. I believe that is one of the such a lot vital info for me.
    And i am happy reading your article. However wanna statement on some
    common issues, The web site taste is perfect, the articles is in
    point of fact excellent : D. Just right task, cheers

  3. Each serving contains only 2 grams of Fat (3% PDV), but none of it is Trans Fat nor Saturated Fat, that’s great for those
    who find themselves watching their cholesterol levels.
    sources tell me In a cup full of lukewarm
    water, add tbsp honey and tsp holy basil paste.

  4. Vacuum packing machines are, therefore, important
    for every home or food store to make sure that the food doesn’t get spoil unnecessarily.

    Well in this post you’ll become familiar with a little more to do
    with all 3 questions and why they are important and why you should look at owning a food dehydrator.

    The problem arises in that they may quickly contact a local pest control number.
    Fresh food for the longer period of time – You wish to keep food fresh for as long
    as you’re able to, right. can beer Go bad

  5. Greetings! I know this is somewhat off topic but I was wondering which
    blog platform are you using for this website? I’m getting sick and tired of
    Wordpress because I’ve had issues with hackers and I’m looking
    at alternatives for another platform. I would be fantastic if you could
    point me in the direction of a good platform.

  6. First off I would like to say awesome blog! I had a quick question which I’d like to ask if you don’t mind.

    I was interested to know how you center yourself and
    clear your head prior to writing. I’ve had a difficult time
    clearing my thoughts in getting my ideas out there.
    I do enjoy writing but it just seems like the first 10
    to 15 minutes are lost just trying to figure out how to begin. Any recommendations or hints?
    Thank you!

  7. Just want to say your article is as astonishing. The clearness on your post is
    simply great and that i can suppose you are a professional on this subject.
    Well together with your permission allow me to grab your RSS
    feed to stay updated with imminent post. Thanks a
    million and please keep up the enjoyable work.

  8. If you have any awesome Minecraft seeds of your personal,
    you can share them and then leave a comment below.
    When you returns for their Minecraft game, they won’t be able to
    walk through their doorways. info

  9. Have you ever thought about adding a little bit
    more than just your articles? I mean, what you say is
    valuable and all. But think about if you added some great images or videos
    to give your posts more, “pop”! Your content is excellent but with images and videos, this blog could definitely be
    one of the greatest in its niche. Great blog!

  10. Nicce post. I was ϲhecking continuously this Ьlog
    and I’m impressed! Very useful information specially the last part 🙂 I сare for such info mսch.
    I was looking foor this particular infirmɑtion for a long time.
    Thwnk you and best of luck.

  11. Hi there, just became aware of your blog through Google, and found that it is truly informative.
    I am gonna watch out for brussels. I’ll appreciate if you continue this in future.

    Many people will be benefited from your writing. Cheers!

  12. Right here is the right web site for anybody who would like to find out about this topic.
    You know so much its almost tough to argue with you (not that I actually will need to…HaHa).
    You definitely put a fresh spin on a subject which has been discussed for a long
    time. Excellent stuff, just wonderful!

  13. I think this is one of the most significant information for me.
    And i am glad reading your article. But should remark on few general things, The web site style is perfect, the articles is really great : D.
    Good job, cheers

  14. When someone writes an article he/she retains the thought of a
    user in his/her mind that how a user can understand it.

    Therefore that’s why this post is outstdanding. Thanks!

  15. You could definitely see your skills in the article you
    write. The world hopes for even more passionate writers like you who aren’t afraid to
    mention how they believe. At all times follow your

  16. Hello! I’ve been following your web site for a while now and finally got
    the courage to go ahead and give you a shout out from Porter Texas!
    Just wanted to tell you keep up the excellent job!

  17. Simply want to say your article is as astounding.

    The clearness on your put up is simply spectacular and i could assume you are an expert on this
    subject. Fine along with your permission let me to
    take hold of your RSS feed to stay up to date with approaching post.
    Thank you one million and please continue the rewarding work.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s