The Ideal Green Market Co-op Hires General Manager

Brenda Myers of Pequot Lakes

The Ideal Green Market Co-op has taken another step in its development by hiring Brenda Myers of Pequot Lakes as its first general manager.

Myers comes to the co-op with local roots, having grown up and lived in the area all her life. She's been involved in and owned a variety of businesses over the years, including working with her husband on their farm, and brings with her a passion for good food.

"I am a strong supporter of social enterprise, which is what the co-op is," Myers said in a news release. "We have a triple-bottom line that includes social, environmental as well as economic support of local farmers, members and consumers (you do not have to be a member to shop at the Ideal Green Market Co-op) and we represent a responsible way to establish and sustain a business."

The board and members of the Ideal Green Market Co-Op have created a local food hub. This is a viable solution to the challenges facing local producers, the co-op reported. It addresses the logistical, transportation and marketing challenges that small food farmers face. Bringing their product together under a common roof provides a distribution point for producers and a local shopping option for consumers who want to buy source-verified local and regional food. While expanding the market reach of local growers, the Ideal Green Market is also creating local jobs and expanding access to freshly harvested food within our community. Plans are underway with the grand opening scheduled May 14-21, during fishing opener week. The store will be open full weeks, Monday-Saturday starting that week and is open to all shoppers. Current hours are Thursday, 1-8 p.m., and Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. It is located at 34988 County Road 39 in Ideal Township at the juncture of Crow Wing County Roads 16 and 39 next to The Old Milwaukee Club. It's 6 miles from Crosslake, 7 miles from Jenkins, 8 miles from Breezy Point, and 13 miles from Pine River.

Last summer they hosted a farmers' market in the parking lot on Saturdays. This season the farmers market will start at 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., May 21, as part of the final day of the grand opening. It will run every Saturday through Oct. 1 as one of the co-op's activities.

The co-op mission is "to provide access to local, sustainable and healthy food and products." Since they opened last November, three days per week, membership has increased from 113 to approximately 160. Most products are organic, and local goods are being featured. There are over 20 local vendor goods represented within a 100-mile radius. It is exciting to note the wealth of great food being grown and/or processed in the area as the co-op works to source as close to home as possible, while filling out with other goods sought by customers. The produce, when not local, is primarily sourced from smaller farmers/food producers, many of whom participate in farmer cooperatives in their areas.

Local greens from Alder Song Farm of Merrifield and Grampa G's of Pillager are now being stocked at the co-op with their first harvests from their greenhouses and/or hoop houses. Member and volunteer Joan Ingebrigtson, speaks highly of the co-op and the quality of the produce in particular. "It's people working together for a common good," Myers said. "A food co-op allows the community to focus on local people and their nutritional needs while keeping dollars local."

Barb Mann, co-op coordinator since January 2015, will continue working with co-op development through June 2016. Mann said Myers will take the co-op to the next level of growth. "It's exciting and we are well poised for the spring/summer season as we continue to meet the needs of the member-owners and the community," Mann said.

By BRAINERD DISPATCH on Apr 15, 2016 at 11:22 p.m.

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