Lamoille County Interested In Opening Morrisville Food Co-Op

12/26/12 5:50PM By Amy Kolb Noyes

VPR/Amy Kolb Noyes
MoCo organizers recently held a free soup lunch to raise awareness about the downtown coop project.

Lamoille County is home to many small farms, yet buying local foods can be a challenge. That's why there's a push to open a food coop in downtown Morrisville.

Morrisville is where most of the people in Lamoille County do their food shopping. And there are two large grocery stores in town, including one that's open 24 hours.

Even though Lamoille County is also home to many farms, food processed and packaged hundreds or even thousands of miles away is often easier to obtain than food grown, raised or produced locally. That's why the town is working with a group of volunteers to try and start a downtown food coop. They're calling the effort MoCo - short for Morrisville Coop. Cheryl Hartt is on the MoCo steering committee.

"The first thing for me is bringing access to good food to people in Morrisville, and also access for farmers to get their food to people in Morrisville," said Hartt. "There are a lot of farmers in Morrisville, and I think farmer's markets are wonderful, but to have something that day-in and day-out people have access to good food is good, and important."

Hartt is no stranger to the coop model. She bakes muffins, cookies and quiches for Buffalo Mountain Coop, in Hardwick. She said Buffalo Mountain is the closest coop to Morrisville, but it's reached its capacity.

"It's very small and it's a very busy little coop," said Hartt. "They're very excited about the idea of us having one, actually, which is nice."

Sharon Dietz Caroli owns The Bee's Knees Restaurant in Morrisville, and her menu features local food. She says her customers come from Morrisville and surrounding towns, and she also sees visitors from the nearby ski resorts in Stowe and Jeffersonville. She says a coop will be another way to draw shoppers to Morrisville's downtown.

"The grocery stores are a draw to people beyond Morrisville, and having a coop just adds to that identity that this is a place to do your shopping," she said. "You don't need to go to Montpelier or Burlington to get good food."

A consultant is currently working on a grant-funded feasibility study for MoCo. One of the next steps will be recruiting member-owners to raise start-up capital for the store. If all goes well, committee members hope to have a coop up and running by the beginning of 2014.

 

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