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Organizer of fledgling food co-op shares ideas with Dorchester residents

Posted by Patrick Rosso  August 26, 2011 11:35 AM

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Dorchester is the largest and one of the most diverse neighborhoods in Boston, but among all that diversity, Dorchester lacks something -- a food co-op.

Jenny Silverman, project manager for the Dorchester Co-op, which is just in the early stages, hopes to change that.

“Dorchester does not have enough food stores, period. And it has almost no stores that are dedicated to providing fresh, high quality, natural, organic food at an affordable cost to its residents,'' Silverman said. "Secondly Dorchester doesn’t have a store that is owned by the community. So we hope we can provide that service.”

The idea of a member-owned, community-based grocery store created to benefit locals is not new. More people are discovering that along with wanting to know where their food comes from, they want to know the people who are behind it.

Jamaica Plain and Cambridge have had long relationships with the co-ops in their communities, but it’s something Dorchester has never seen and that Silverman said the community needs.

“It seems like now is the time to start a co-op. The neighborhood needs this healthy local food,” Silverman told residents that gathered Thursday night in the Nightingale Community Garden in Dorchester to share food and ideas.

Silverman previously worked at Red Sun Press, a working co-op in Jamaica Plain, and has been a member of Harvest Co-op in Cambridge since its opening in 1975.

Many challenges go along with opening any business, but for Silverman and her team to run a successful co-op that truly benefits the community, she needs to get people involved and get as many members as possible to invest in the store. Even with a daunting process ahead of her and her supporters, Silverman expressed her dedication to the community.

“We want all the different groups in Dorchester to be included. We want them as customers, leadership, and workers but before we do that, we need members,” commented Silverman.

But even with members, the Dorchester Co-op still faces a few hurdles; the group is not yet incorporated. This limits their ability to operate a bank account and start collecting membership fees to raise the funds to start up.

Also balancing a budget that encourages the lowest possible price on products, most of which Silverman said would try to be organic and locally sourced, can be a challenge.

Even though there was excitement within the group sharing food in the Nightingale Community Garden, Silverman reminded them that they had a long road ahead but that it would be worth it in the end.

Although Silverman stressed that the store is in the very early stages of development, she encouraged anyone who was interested to visit their website www.dotcommcoop.wordpress.com.

E-mail Patrick Rosso at patrick.d.rosso@gmail.com

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