Outreach Update

We have reached 1048 members and we welcome our most recent members: Maria Bean, Tom Blanford, Sarah Fin, Joe Frenna, Jim Gerrans, Benjamin Scholl, Lori Seawel, Deanna Wheeler, Jane Wilson, and Angela Yancy.Continue reading

Margarita Bars

Margarita Bars
These bars are full of lime and margarita flavor! There’s a burst of citrus in the filling and a sweet crunch from the graham cracker crust.Continue reading

Q&A for Future Co-op Members

Thinking about joining the Co-op Board??

Join Rooted Carrot Board members, Jodie Huegerich and Christine Sexton, to learn what it means to be a board member for our start-up food co-op. They’ll review what the Board does, the time commitments involved, and what it means to be a “working board” versus a “governing board.” This will be a casual discussion meant for members who are considering running for the Board, so bring your questions and we’ll do our best to answer them!

Monday, August 10 at 6:00 pm on Zoom

RSVP to info@rootedcarrot.coop and we’ll send you Zoom login information the day of the event.

Applications for potential board members are being accepted now through August 29th, with the new term beginning in November. Click here for the Board candidate application packet.

Committee Updates

The Site Team is on fire right now working several hours per week collaborating with property owners, architects, city personnel, bankers, consultants – you name it, we’re planning and discussing it! We’re on a tight timeline to make this project a-go and super pumped to do so! Kate, Site Team ChairContinue reading

Board Member Spotlight: Jodie Huegerich

You likely recognize Jodie Huegerich if you have been a frequent College Hill Farmers Market attendee, are a local food producer, and/or have attended the Local Film and Food Festival or the Local Food Dinner. She is the organizer behind these events through her work as the University of Northern Iowa Local Food Program Manager at the Center for Energy & Environmental Education. With such a broad and deep understanding of the local food system, it’s no wonder that Jodie has been a supporter of the Co-op as a member-owner since 2016, and was elected as a board member in November of 2019.Continue reading

From the Board President: My Last Column as Board President

At our board meeting on Wednesday, the board is scheduled to approve a motion to appoint a new president to take over the leadership duties as we enter Stage 3 of the Co-op’s development. I’ll give an update on why we’re making the change and who will be stepping up in this role, but first some other board of director news…

Branding the Rooted Carrot
In July, the board approved to move forward with a new brand for our new name by utilizing a trusted expert in this field. Firebrand has extensive experience in the world of food cooperatives, including with brand management. In today’s highly competitive grocery sector, it’s critical that the Rooted Carrot Co-op Market be well positioned in our community. We believe we will be with our new name combined with a smart brand identity from Firebrand. In addition, Firebrand is a cooperative itself, and supporting other co-ops ties directly to one of the 7 Cooperative Principles. Stay tuned for updates on when the new brand will be rolled out.

One of our Co-op members shared their design for a new logo. What ideas do YOU have for a new logo?

Financial Work
I know I’m not alone when I say that I’d much rather work on a logo than financial statements. Most people I know would too. But while brand identity is important, building a financial plan for a successful Co-op is paramount. During both of its meetings in July, the board continued its commitment to the long-term sustainability and viability of the Co-op by focusing deeply on three aspects of our financials – current budget plans, the pro forma (the document that outlines how much we need to raise and what our projections will be through Year 10), and our operating cash flow between now and when we launch the capital campaign. I’m pleased to report that all three aspects are looking positive. I’m also pleased to report that the board has made a commitment to share more details about these at the annual member-owner meeting (this year’s event is scheduled in September). Kudos for the board’s commitment to making sure all our finances are in order.

Committee Work
In addition to the work of the board itself, board members lead the efforts of six standing committees. Five of these committees (Communications, Membership, Finance, Capital Campaign, and Operations) all have to adjust their purpose and goals as we transition from Stage 2 (Feasibility and Planning) to Stage 3 (Implementation). This is no easy task. Part of the board’s agendas in July were focused on ensuring all our “to do” items are being covered by one of these committees (or our two short-term committees). Also, in July, the board began work on adding a new short-term committee to help with the transition into Stage 3 (more details on this soon). That’s a lot your volunteer board is working on!

Capital Campaign
In order to start a food co-op, we need to secure millions of dollars. For the Rooted Carrot Co-op Market, that’s roughly $2.8 million. A big chunk of that will be raised through a capital campaign. In July, the board of directors continued its important work of outlining the details for our capital campaign, including what the campaign strategy will be, when to launch, and who will be guiding this work. Like our financial plans, you should expect to learn more about the capital campaign at this year’s member-owner meeting.

A Change in Leadership
As I mentioned earlier, I will no longer be president of the Co-op board starting in early August. The reason for this is that is straightforward—the board has appointed me as the new chair of the Capital Campaign Committee. I am incredibly excited about the campaign and I look forward to taking on this role as we move ever closer to opening the doors for our community-owned grocery store. Taking over as the new president is Jodie Huegerich. Jodie has been an incredible champion for the Co-op’s work since joining the board last fall. As I pass the baton to her, I know she is the right person at the right time for our Co-op. Please join me in welcoming Jodie as the new board president!

On a personal note…
Before I sign out on my last column as board president, I wanted to have the opportunity to share a few personal thoughts about this journey. Not all Co-op members know the story of the Co-op’s beginning. It started back in September of 2012 with a meeting open to the community to discuss the possibility of opening the Co-op. That meeting was held at the Cedar Falls Community Center on a Thursday evening shortly after Labor Day. Four people, including my wife Melanie Drake (previous board member and Outreach Coordinator) and Laura Sether (who has since moved out of the area), organized this meeting following on the heels of the closing of Roots Market. We put together a PowerPoint. We handed out fliers. We bought name badges. And we invited the public to join us. We didn’t know how many would show up or what the interest would be.

Over 75 people attending the first meeting to discuss a possible co-op. Were you there?

In short, the interest was huge! That night we had over 75 people attend, and 30 people sign up to volunteer to get going on opening a food co-op. (Side note: a few people who signed up then are still volunteering!) From that moment through today, each person who has stepped up to help with this effort has been an inspiration to me. Each time someone spends an hour attending a committee meeting, or helping write bylaws, or staffing a booth in the rain at the Farmers Market, or touring a potential site, or organizing a bike ride, or designing a graphic, wearing the Rooty costume at a parade on a summer day, or driving through snow to Indiana to attend a conference, or any of the thousands of steps we’ve taken, I get motivated. Each time someone rolls up their sleeves and pitches in with this effort, I become more energized to help as well. That is what has kept me going since we began – the incredible showing of support from all kinds of people.

Following that meeting back in 2012, we started the next meeting, this time at the Cedar Falls Library. Shortly thereafter, we established a steering committee to head this effort. I volunteered to serve as the president of the steering committee, and once we incorporated in the fall of 2014, I again volunteered to lead this effort, this time as board president. I’ve been serving in that role ever since.

I tend to be someone who doesn’t dwell on the past, but instead looks ahead. (I am so looking forward to opening day for the Co-op!) But it’s okay to pause and look back, and when I do, I fully admit that I’ve had moments over the years, particularly when the volume of work has been heavy, of wondering: Would I have even started doing this knowing what I now know? It’s been eight years of hard work and still more work ahead before we can shop at our Co-op. Think of all the word working projects I could have completed by now. Or new recipes I could have tried out. Or travel. When I wonder about that, I am quickly reminded that while this work has been hard, it has been incredibly enriching for me.

I’m deeply moved by the generosity and spirit of this community that Melanie and I have called home since moving here shortly before that community meeting in 2012. While serving as president, I’ve been rewarded by having the opportunity to meet hundreds of community members, from Independence to Parkersburg. I met a farmer who also is building a home for his growing family. I’ve met students and parents and a fabulous young couple that recently moved here for graduate school and both of them signed up to become members. I’ve meet folks who worked at chain grocery stores who’ve secretly volunteered for the Co-op. I met a woman who recently retired from UNI who has continued to move the needle on this effort despite having to undergo chemotherapy. I’ve shared countless meals with new faces, and I am reminded on a regular basis that helping build a co-op is a rich and rewarding experience in and of itself. No matter what happens with the Co-op this fall, or next year, or 10 years from now, I will be a richer person for the opportunity to have worked alongside so many passionate and amazing people. This is an effort of hundreds of people cooperating together to make this happen. Did you know that the Co-op has logged over 12,000 volunteer hours since incorporation?

Thank you for the opportunity to serve as president – it’s been an honor. But more importantly, thank you for the opportunity to get to know this community in a deep and profound way. It has been one hell of a ride, and I can’t wait for what’s coming up next!

If you have any reflections about the Co-op’s past, please send me a note tomwick@sbcglobal.net or add a comment below. I’d love to hear from you!

In cooperation,
Tom Wickersham

From the Board President: The Plan is Coming Together But One Thing Is Missing

Four months ago, the Co-op had to shut down all public events, which have been the main engine for our membership growth over the years. The potlucks and brew debuts and trivia nights and other events have been a great way to energize the community (and Co-op members), as well as share updates on our progress. And while we are disappointed that we haven’t been able to rub shoulders with you in a while, we took advantage of this hiatus to make some significant progress on your Co-op. Read on for some updates…

We Have a New Name!
As announced to membership directly, and to the public in our July 2020 Garlic Press newsletter, the Cedar Falls Food Co-op is now the Rooted Carrot Co-op Market. We are excited to shift to this new name that encompasses our regional approach while building on the brand we’ve established since we incorporated in the fall of 2014. There are many people (too many to list here) who helped guide this work and provide input. We hope you like the end result. Let me know your thoughts by sending me an email (see below).

Nearing a Site Announcement
Yes, that is true—we are nearing a site announcement! Okay, I’ll be the first to admit that this isn’t the first time we’ve stated that. As we reported at our member-owner meeting last fall, we’ve been this close to closing the deal on a few sites before, so while we are disappointed they didn’t work out, we are heartened by the fact that it is quite normal for start-up food co-ops to end up having to switch sites, sometimes more than twice. So, while we haven’t officially announced anything yet, we feel we have finally settled on solid ground with the current prospective site. We fully anticipate being able to announce the future home of the Co-op by the end of summer. Keep an eye on our Facebook page for updates.

Raising the Capital
At this year’s start-up food co-op conference (held in March in Madison), we learned about some new ways to conduct our capital campaign (learn more about what a capital campaign is here). The new models have proven to be effective in other communities, so our board is re-examining our capital campaign plan to see if it could be a better fit for your co-op here. I’ve had a few meetings with other co-op board presidents and I have to say, I’m so grateful that the co-op world is so willing to share information with us. In addition to a possible new campaign model, we are exploring ways to receive donations from the greater community. When combined, we believe that we will be well poised to raise the nearly $2.7 million necessary to open the doors on what we believe will the first of multiple Rooted Carrot Co-op Markets in the greater Cedar Valley.

Your Board is Stepping Up
In May, the board of directors voted to switch from one meeting per month to two per month. We recognized that the amount of work during this critical phase is too much to handle with our old meeting schedule. Our new meeting schedule allows us to cover a lot more territory, and it also allows us to respond more quickly to opportunities as they arise. I am so proud of this board’s commitment to this effort. Oh, and speaking of the board, in June we appointed Mark Westbrock to fill the vacancy left by Cathy DeSoto who stepped down. Mark has been part of the Co-op’s Operations Team, and has also served on the Site Selection Team. Welcome, Mark!

What’s Missing?
The Co-op board is finalizing a plan for Stage 3 of our development (known as Implementation). Our Co-op has been in Stage 2 for quite a while, which is not unusual for start-up co-ops, but as I’ve outlined above, things are gearing up for a site announcement and all the remaining steps that come with it in Stage 3. And while this is incredibly exciting for the Cedar Valley, we must recognize that the implementation plan depends on volunteers. We cannot design the interior of the store without volunteers. We cannot complete the rebrand with our new name without volunteers. We cannot run a capital campaign without volunteers. We need volunteers to help keep our membership growth going. And we need volunteers to help communicate the impacts the Co-op will be making for the region. If you’ve ever thought about lending a hand to your Co-op, now is the time. Please drop me a line if you want to help out. I know we can find the right role for you!

In cooperation,
Tom Wickersham

Board Member Spotlight: Kate Richmond

Kate Richmond has been a Board Member for six months. She was appointed to fill a vacant board position and become the treasurer of the Co-op. She is a Sr. Manager in workforce analytics at GrubHub.

What does Kate do when she is not attending a Co-op Board meeting, Co-op Finance Committee meeting, completing a Co-op finance report, or working? She volunteers at the Northeast Iowa Food Bank and enjoys spending time with family, great friends, and taking their pontoon out on the water.

She has two boys, Gabe (13) and Jameson (4) and she is married to Ryan.

What is a Capital Campaign?

Did you know that there have been over 125 start-up food co-ops to open across the U.S. in the last two decades? As more and more communities realize the value of keeping their dollars locally, they’ve stepped up to make it easier to keep money circulating locally by creating a community-owned grocery store. The greater Cedar Valley is doing the same thing by launching the Rooted Carrot Co-op Market (formally the Cedar Falls Food Co-op).Continue reading