Dear Cooperators,

Last week I attended Field & Fork Network’s 4th annual regional food and farming conference. If you aren’t familiar with this impressive organization, I encourage you to learn about them. Their mission, which promotes a thriving regional food system in the eight counties of Western New York, is aligned perfectly with the co-op’s mission in so many ways, from connecting farmers with consumers, providing access to fresh, healthy food and educating the public on living well.

This conference, held every other year, is an excellent way to learn more about food policy and initiatives as well as to meet local producers and the people in the local food and restaurant industry. The use of locally produced ingredients in restaurants and institutions is not just a popular trend these days; it is a purposeful system to stimulate our local economy and enhance our health. I urge you to look for restaurants that recognize and support the value of locally produced goods.

Also attending the conference were several staff members of the Lexington Co-op, on Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo, including General Manager (and East Aurora native) Tim Bartlett. Tim and team have been key advisors to us since we began; a coup for a start-up like us, considering their sales, at $10 million annually, make their financial performance one of the strongest of any other co-op in the country.

I believe this tremendous success is largely due to the attention Lexington pays to everything a customer wants: great food and great service in an atmosphere in which people love to shop. In addition, Lexington is well-known within Buffalo for its environmental and socially responsible practices. We are truly fortunate to have such a stellar example in such close proximity, and I had the unique opportunity to discuss our progress with Tim for nearly an hour.

As always, they provided insight on a few challenges and offered encouragement and praise for how far we’ve come. I look forward to continuing to emulating their best practices – albeit with a Southtowns flair – as we move forward!

I began the month of March with renewed energy and an increased appreciation for the value of the connections in our communities. I invite you help us by connecting with those who may not have heard about the East Aurora Cooperative Market yet. Direct them to our website, our Mini Market or simply forward this email. With your help, we’re stronger together!

Yours in Cooperation,