BY LISA BALSCHUNAT
Three years ago a group of local people
passionate about organic food and local farms
collaborated to organize a food cooperative in
the area that would offer its members, and the
general public, healthy and affordable food items
like flour, grains, baking supplies, nuts, seeds,
local meats, vegetables and other natural and/
or organic products.
The idea surfaced after a Glens Falls economic
development survey indicated that the community
was interested in having a food co-op
Ben Lapham, Joy Kaczmarek and Matt Funiciello,
catalysts of the group, put the word out,
primarily through social media. The trio, and
others who joined the effort to create a nonprofit
food supply alternative, researched various co-op
models. They held informational meetings and
surveyed the community via mail and social
media. The interest was high, momentum built
and within six months the Glens Falls Food Co-Op was a reality.
In 2012, the Glens Falls Food Co-Op opened
at 9 Diamond Plaza inside Rockhill Bakehouse
in Gansevoort. While the buzz indicated people
wanted a storefront in downtown Glens Falls,
organizers debated at length to open debt-free,
having seen the closures of other co-ops that
incurred too much debt at the start up. Anticipating
a successful venture, bakery owner Funiciello
offered the new cooperative 600 square feet of
his retail bakery space rent-free.
According to Sue Duncan, co-op vice-president
and purchaser, 40 people initially joined
as patron members. Within three months the
membership doubled to 80.
“The Co-Op opened with $7,000 in seed money
and was taken on as an incubator business by
Rockhill Bakehouse,” she said.
Over the past three years, the Co-Op has grown
to 160 members and is still housed at Rockhill
Bakehouse. The Co-Op stocks over 200 products
including Battenkill Creamery milk and ice
cream, local organic produce in season, grass fed
meats and butter, grass fed yogurt and cheeses,
farm fresh eggs, organic New York state flours,
baking goods and spices, local cheese, honey,
maple syrup, soaps, coffee, teas and balms.
Additionally, the co-op carries organic snacks,
jams, nut butters, oils, soy candles, body care
lotions and oils, locally made laundry soap,
handmade baskets, and GMO-free and gluten free
Duncan said this spring the co-op is featuring
seasonal produce from Tangleroot Farm
(Gansevoort), Kilpatrick Family Farm (Middle
Granville), Champlain Apple Orchard (Shoreham,
Vermont), Juniper Hill Farm (Wadhams)
and meat from Grazin’ Acres Farm (Argyle).
“Coconut oil, rolled oats, organic spices, flour
and baking goods are some of our more popular
items,” she said. “People really like Lucy Jo’s
Coffee from Hebron, the eco-friendly laundry
wash from Ballston Spa and our African market
On May 23, the Co-Op is hosting its second
Farm and Food Festival in Crandall Park from 11
a.m. to 3 p.m. that will feature food samples from
local vendors and farms, a seed swap and seed
planting, nutritional education, live music by Er
Go Blu with Dan and Kate Garcia and children’s
activities. Speakers and artisans include Flower
Moon Farm Herbals CSA, Tangelroot Farm CSA,
the Holistic Mom’s Network, Traveling Vineyard
In-Home Wine Consulting, Glens Falls Art LLC,
Everskin Botanic Anti-Aging Products, Arbonne
Botanic Skin Products, Young Living Essential
Oils, FX3 Fit Food Fast, Happy FX Face Painting,
the Glens Falls Farmer’s Market, Rock Hill Bakehouse,
Rite Aid Community Gardens, Adirondack
Barkery, Cottrell Clay Creations and High Mowing
Organic Seed Company of Wolcott, Vermont.
Registered dieticians and interns from Russell
Sage College Nutrition Sciences Division will be
on hand to answer questions and speak about
good nutrition and healthy eating options.
Admission is free, but the co-op will be accepting
new memberships and donations for a
refrigerator and freezer. There are three flexible
membership tiers: individual at $75 per year with
a 20 percent discount or $40 per year with a 10
percent discount; family at $125 per year with
a 20 percent discount or $65 per year with a 10
percent discount, or patron at $250 per year with a 20 percent discount.
Event organizers are encouraging festival
goers to bring a GMO-free food item to support
Community Action and Family Services Association.
Duncan said, “While we are celebrating
food, local farms and healthy living, we though
it was important to support our community with
a food drive, too.”
Children’s activities at the festival will include:
seed planting, face painting, an old-fashioned
bean bag toss, vegetable stamping and more.
The event is hosted by the Glens Falls Food
Co-Op, presented by the Glens Falls Downtown
Collaborative and sponsored by the Russell Sage
Nutrition Science Division. To participate as a
festival vendor call Duncan at 683-2769. For more
details visit www.gffoodcoop.org.