The Cooperative Trade Movement, or P6, gained momentum after being introduced to Willy Street Co-op last October (www.willystreet.coop/article/7955) and is now ready to go full throttle as we enter the first official growing season of the P6 era. We’ve got a lot planned during May to bring attention to the P6 growers who bring us our flourishing selection of organic and local vegetables and fruits. We’ll be featuring P6 products at our grilling events, offering free cooking demonstrations in the stores, classes by P6 producers and more opportunities to learn about this fascinating project to promote the cooperative way of doing business.
Currently, only six grocery co-ops in the country have launched this movement in their community. The original six founding P6/Cooperative Trade Movement member stores are: Bloomingfoods Co-op (Bloomington, Indiana); Brattleboro Food Co-op (Brattleboro, Vermont); Community Mercantile (Lawrence, Kansas); Davis Food Co-op (Davis, California); Seward Food Co-op (Minneapolis, Minnesota); and Willy Street Co-op. The stores were recruited and coordinated by our esteemed cooperative partners with the vision and energy to bring this idea into reality, Equal Exchange (West Bridgewater, Massachusetts). In the coming year we are expecting to welcome more grocery co-ops to the movement and continue to spread this message to even more grocery co-ops throughout the U.S.
A quick spin on the new, fun and interactive P6 website (www.P6.coop) gives viewers access to nominate their favorite P6 products to the P6 Hall of Fame and even discuss them with other users across the country, or check out what other stores are doing to promote local agriculture in their area.
Most cooperatives follow a short list of seven International Principles. Principle 6 commits us to cooperate among cooperatives, and the P6/Cooperative Trade Movement reminds us that as cooperatives, we play an integral role in sustaining a vibrant agricultural infrastructure in our communities. Prioritizing the sourcing of foods from small, local, and/or other co-ops also satisfies other principles and our Co-op’s Bylaws and Board Governance Policies. Most importantly, what all of these documents provide is a gauge to continually measure our performance, guiding our day-to-day and long-term planning and decisions.
Using our Cooperative’s definition for local (anywhere in Wisconsin, or within a150-mile radius of the Capitol), farmers and/or producers are required to meet two of the three criteria to qualify to be featured in the P6/Cooperative Trade Movement:
- Locally grown or produced.
- Small grower or producer (independently owned and operated and selling directly to stores or through a local distributor).
- Cooperative or non-profit.
Along with that earlier introduction in the Reader we also included a list of P6 vendors who meet the criteria to be included in the movement (www.willystreet.coop/article/7956). Since then, we’ve opened Willy West and, by doing this, grown and strengthened the local and cooperative supply chain in southern Wisconsin. Now, with everyone from Willy East and Willy West on board, we hope to pick up more supporters for our way of doing business, the cooperative way! In all, Willy Street Co-op recorded sales of over $4.5 million in local goods during the last 12 months, including four months of sales from Willy West.
And to make it even easier, you will begin to see small P6 stickers on products around the store and more P6 signage in the aisles during the month of May.
Also on tap for May we’re holding our first P6 Media contest (see thead on page 27) and inviting all of those creative, even not-so-creative folks among us to submit their entry via either a poem, story, skit, song or short film. Winning entries will have an opportunity to perform their winning piece at the Annual Meeting and Party on Thursday, July 7th (same location this year—corner of Dickinson and E. Main St., site of La Fete de Marquette). Also make sure you vote for the adult t-shirt design (starting May 7th) that best communicates the meaning of P6.
At our first-of-the-season grilling events at the stores we will be donating any profit from these events to Mentoring Positives and their “Off The Block” salsa project to inspire teens in the Darbo/Worthington neighborhood who grow, harvest, prepare and sell their delicious salsas in the Madison area. Look for more P6 vendors to be sampling their products in the aisles throughout the month.