Building a Cooperative Future
In honor of Black History Month and in the spirit of cooperation, we want to take this opportunity to share the visionary and necessary work being done by the Sonoma-based Cooperative Food Empowerment Directive (CoFED). CoFED is a, “QBPOC-led organization that partners with young folks of color from poor and working-class backgrounds to meet our communities’ needs through food and land co-ops.”
Since 2011, CoFED has developed 12 cooperative projects, trained more than 600 emerging cooperative leaders, and grew a community of nearly 4,000 supporters across North America. Through cooperative values, economics, and strategies, young BIPOC folks develop leadership skills for collective liberation and a more cooperative future.
In addition to food justice programs offered by CoFED, the team has made an extensive archive of free resources. These include guides for Starting a Student Food Co-op, Guide for Scaling Your Co-op, and a Guide for Creating a Pilot Project. CoFED also provides an extensive list of “Co-op Resources 101” which includes information about co-ops in general, starting a co-op, our food system, business advice, links to loan and grant programs, land and farming education, multilingual resources, and more.
Build, Unlearn, Decolonize – The Build, Unlearn, Decolonize (BUD) learning series is a 5-week virtual education intensive designed with love for Black, Latinx, Indigenous, Asian and Pacific Islander youth who are working in co-ops and collectives to grow community health and wealth through food and land. The 2020 BUD Cohort is pictured above.
Racial Justice Fellowship – CoFED’s Racial Justice Fellowship is a 6-month opportunity for young cooperators of color working to close the racial wealth gap by advancing community ownership of land and the food system.
MyceliYUM – MyceliYUM is new national network of cooperators of color advancing food and land justice where young people can organize to shift policy. MyceliYUM members also benefit from CoFED’s membership in the HEAL Food Alliance (HEAL), Wallace Center’s Food Systems Leadership Network, and New Economy Coalition.
Support CoFED’s Vision for a Cooperative Future
Much of CoFED’s work is funded through grassroots donations. If you’ve found your way to this blog post, chances are you believe in cooperation and the role it will play in our collective future. Supporting CoFED’s work with a monetary donation is one way to help ensure that future, while also giving tangible support to young QBIPOC folks fighting for food and land justice and our collective food system.
In February 2021, the Davis Food Co-op was able to support CoFED’s work with a $500 dollar donation. Click below to join your Co-op and CoFED in building a collective future.
The blog post was published with permission from CoFED.
Sample Pack Guide
Tangy Classics Sample Pack
From left to right: Cara Cara Orange, Oro Blanco Grapefruit, Navel Orange, Clementine
Cara Cara Orange: pinky-orange flesh with tangy hints of blackberry and cranberry
Oro Blanco Grapefruit: pale, nearly seedless flesh with a sweet honeysuckle flavor and almost no bitterness
Rainwater Navel Orange: juicy and flavorful Washington Navel orange grown in Winters, CA
Clementine: these sweet and seedless are the smallest member of the mandarin/tangerine family
Tart Adventure Sample Pack
From left to right: Bergamot Orange, Nagami Kumquat, Ruby Red Grapefruit, Wekiwa Tangelo
Bergamot Orange: this yellow-fleshed orange is more bitter than a grapefruit, but less sour than a lemon and has a very aromatic rind; typically only used for its rind and juice
Nagami Kumquat: sweet rind with juicy and spicy flesh
Ruby Red Grapefruit: deep pink flesh that tastes sweeter than standard grapefruits
Wekiwa Tangelo: bright orange juicy flesh that tastes sweet with mild acidity
Twisted Favorite Sample Pack
From left to right: Blood Orange, Mandarinquat, Meyer Lemon, Pearl Tangelo
Blood Orange: deep red flesh with flavor notes of raspberries and pomegranates
Mandarinquat: sweet flavor with a crunchy bite and can be eaten whole
Meyer Lemon: low acidity with sweet, zesty flavor and floral undertones
Pearl Tangelo: golden-hued flesh with a sweet, grapefruit-like flavor
Staff Picks Sample Pack
From left to right: Pummelo, Satsuma Mandarin, Late Lane Orange, Tango Mandarin
Pummelo: pale pink flesh with a balanced sweet-tart flavor
Satsuma Mandarin: one of the sweetest mandarins with bright orange flesh
Late Lane Orange: late season navel with juicy segments and big orange flavors
Tango Mandarin: seedless dark orange flesh with a rind rich with oil and deeply aromatic when pierced or muddled
A themed dinner is always fun, especially if you’re taking the time to make a meal from scratch for yourself or a loved one. With Valentine’s Day (or Palentine’s/Galentine’s Day) right around the corner, a Naturally Pink Three Course Dinner seems all too appropriate. Luckily for us, the natural world is full of pink foods so you won’t find any artificial dyes in these recipes.
On The Menu
Love Potion Cocktail
Balsamic Roasted Beet & Goat Cheese Salad
Pink Sauce Pasta
Pink Lemonade Bars
Love Potion Cocktail
Gently sweet and bubbly, this blushing pink cocktail gets its beautiful color from homemade blackberry thyme syrup. If you’d like a non-alcoholic version, substitute the bubbly with sparkling water or plain kombucha.
Balsamic Roasted Beet & Goat Cheese Salad
You can’t have a pink meal without including beets! These beets are for people who don’t like beets: Their earthy-sweet beet flavor is hemmed in perfectly with sharp, acidic balsamic vinegar. Peppery arugula, a touch of lemon, and tangy goat cheese give a lovely balance to this salad.
Pink Sauce Pasta
Pink sauce is a hybrid pasta pauce that combines traditional red sauce and white cream sauce for a pasta that is delicious, complex, and rich without being heavy. Even though you’re making the sauce from scratch, this dish comes together quickly with a big payoff.
Pink Lemonade Bars
Fresh raspberries make these traditional lemon bars vibrant pink. You can make the filling and crust ahead of time, assemble and toss in the oven in when you’re ready. This is a great recipe for home bakers to try – you’ll learn a few tricks without getting overwhelmed!
It’s National Pizza Day!
Feb 9th, 2021 – Craft the perfect vegan crust from sratch or grab your favorite store-bought dough for an easy and delicious weeknight celebration!
Black History Month
In honor of Black History Month, we will be celebrating and recognizing the contributions that Black Americans have had on our food system throughout history. The Co-op, and America as a whole, have been directly influenced by these innovators that created many of the advancements in food as we know them today. Keep an eye out for our posts throughout the month that will highlight some of these great visionaries!
George Washington Carver
George Washington Carver is often credited with the creation of peanut butter but his influence in the world of food goes far beyond that. He was an agricultural chemist, agronomist, and experimenter whose development of new products derived from peanuts, sweet potatoes, and soybeans helped revolutionize the agricultural economy of the South in the early 20th Century.
Starting in in 1896, Carver devoted his time to research projects aimed at helping Southern agriculture, demonstrating ways in which farmers could improve their economic situation. He conducted experiments in soil management and crop production and directed an experimental farm. At this time agriculture in the Deep South was in steep decline because the unremitting single-crop cultivation of cotton had left the soil of many fields exhausted and worthless, and erosion had then taken its toll on areas that could no longer sustain any plant cover. As a remedy, Carver urged Southern farmers to plant peanuts and soybeans. As members of the legume family, these plants could restore nitrogen to the soil while also providing the protein so badly needed in the diet of many Southerners at the time.
Carver revealed his experiments to the public in 1914, and increasing numbers of the South’s farmers began to turn to peanuts, sweet potatoes, and their derivatives for income. Much exhausted land was renewed, and the South became a major new supplier of agricultural products. When Carver started his research in 1896, the peanut had not even been recognized as a crop, but within the next half century it became one of the six leading crops throughout the United States and, in the South, the second cash crop by 1940. Additionally, his research ultimately helped develop 300 derivative products from peanuts—among them: milk, flour, ink, dyes, plastics, wood stains, soap, linoleum, medicinal oils, and cosmetics—and 118 from sweet potatoes, including: flour, vinegar, molasses, ink, a synthetic rubber, and postage stamp glue.
Frederick McKinley Jones
In 1939, Frederick McKinley Jones patented the world’s first successful refrigerated transportation system. Two years later, he released an improved version, the Thermo King Model C, which revolutionized the agriculture and grocery industries.
While Frederick McKinley Jones patented more than sixty inventions over his sixty-seven-year lifetime (making him one of the most prolific African-American inventors ever) the Model C stands as his most prominent achievement. The Model C was the first cooling unit mounted on the front side of a vehicle. Units fixed in this location collected less dirt than under-mounted versions. That combined with its unitary, metal body gave it the rigidity to withstand long trips and the lightness (700 lbs) to save precious engine power. This meant that seasonal crops could now be shipped across longer distances and nations could trade perishable goods.
Today, more than ¾ of food transported in the United States is done so with a refrigeration unit. There is no doubt that Jones’ innovation helped shape the future of both agriculture and the modern grocery store.
Lloyd Augustus Hall
Lloyd Augustus Hall invented a number of ways to better preserve food and is widely regarded as one of the most important food chemists of the 20th century. During a 40+ year career that started in 1921, he amassed 59 U.S. patents while working as a consultant for both Griffith’s Laboratories and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
Hall pioneered antioxidant use when he discovered that foods with fats and oils spoiled when certain ingredients react with oxygen in the air. He also proved that some spices exposed food to microbes that sped up the process of food spoiling. This was contrary to beliefs at the time, which held that spices acted as food preservatives.
Many food preservation techniques used today were pioneered by Dr. Hall’s methods. He is responsible for many of the meat curing products, seasonings, emulsions, bakery products, antioxidants, protein hydrolysates, and other substances that keeps certain foods fresh and flavorful today.
Henry Blair received his first US Patent in 1834, the second Black man to be issued a patent in the United States. His invention, a corn seed planter, dramatically improved efficiency in corn planting. A successful farmer for years, Blair used his inventions to increase productivity on his farm and farms across the country. Two years later, Blair was issued a patent for his mechanical cotton planter, similarly optimizing cotton planting. According to an 1836 article in The Mechanics’ Magazine, Blair’s planter could “save the labor of eight men”.
Blair was born in Glen Ross, Maryland in 1807. Although he was likely a freedman, until 1858 free and enslaved men could apply for US patents. After a slave-owner challenged this law in 1857, the law was re-written to exclude any enslaved persons from applying for and obtaining a patent. This law wasn’t changed until 1871, eleven years after Blair’s death and six years after the end of the Civil War. Today, .3% of US patents are issued to Black Americans.
Dr. Booker T Whatley
Did you know Community Supported Agriculture has roots in Black history? Although popularized by white farmers in the 1980s, Dr. Booker T Whatley listed having a Clientele Membership Club as one of his Ten Commandments for Small Farms in the 1960s. Dr. Whatley was born the eldest of twelve children on his family’s farm in Anniston, Alabama. With a passion for agriculture, Dr. Whatley grew up to be a prominent author, horticulturist, and professor at Tuskegee University.
Between his youth and adulthood Dr. Whatley saw the steep decline of Black farms and farmers. When he was born black farms made up 14% of farms in the US. In 2021, Black farms account for just 1.4%. Seeing this decline, he created his Ten Commandments which he considered essential for the success of small and mid-sized farms in the 60s and 70s. Dr. Whatley’s Clientele Membership Club, asked members to pay an upfront fee to pick their own produce throughout the season. This enabled farmers to pay for seeds and equipment without taking out a loan at the beginning of the season, saved them labor during harvest, and gave club members agency in choosing their food.
Dr. Whatley’s Ten Commandments were cutting edge in his time. Now, we consider CSA and Pick Your Own staples of the good food movement. And while CSA and cooperative economics in farming have been practiced all over the world, we want to recognize Dr. Whatley’s contribution and its revolutionary effect on US American farming.
Joesph Lee’s world was the food industry, and his glorious career in food service began when he was a young boy and worked in a bakery. Armed with hands-on experience, he eventually began preparing, cooking and serving food. He was so successful that he opened two restaurants in the Boston area, then went on to also own and manage the popular Woodland Park Hotel for 17 years.
It was during the peak of his success as a Master Chef that Lee got the idea for the bread crumbing machine. In his opinion, throwing out day-old bread was a waste, when it could instead be used to prepare foods. He had long felt that bread crumbs were superior to cracker crumbs, so he quickly began working on a device that automatically tore, crumbled and ground day-old bread into crumbs.
In June of 1895, Lee patented his bread-crumbing machine. The picture here is of Lee himself using the machine. Lee’s machine was so efficient, it reduced manpower by 75% and was quickly adopted by restaurants all over the country. But Lee wasn’t finished. He soon invented a bread-making machine that could mix ingredients and knead dough so quickly and efficiently, it did the work of six men — and did it cheaper and more hygienically than it had ever been done before. This machine was the predecessor of bread-making machines that are still in use in bakeries and restaurants all across the world today.
George “Crum” Speck & Kate Wicks
George “Crum” Speck is often credited with the invention of the potato chip. While there is no doubt that Speck helped popularized this new snack that would become a staple in America, there seems to be some indication that his sister, Kate Wicks, may have also played a part in the accidental discovery of the chip while they were working together as cooks at the Moon Lake Lodge Resort in Saratoga Springs, NY.
The commonly told tale goes something like this: A customer that ordered french fries repeatedly sent them back to the kitchen for being too thickly cut. In frustration, Speck cut a potato into the thinnest of slices, fried them in oil, and sent them back out. These crispy fried potatoes would be the first potato chips served in the US. However, his sister Kate Wicks has a different version of the story in which she says she sliced off a sliver of potato and it fell into a hot frying pan by accident. Speck then tasted the sliced potato and gave his enthusiastic approval of the chip.
Regardless of which story was the correct version, there is no doubt that Speck’s promotion of the chip helped popularize it. Wealthy visitors to Moon’s restaurant soon spread the word about the “Saratoga chips”, often traveling from Boston and New York specifically for the delicacy. Speck opened his own restaurant, Crum’s Place, in 1860 in Malta, New York where he provided every table with a basket of chips. His chip would remain a delicacy for the elite until the 1920s when entrepreneur Herman Lay brought the chips to the South to introduce them to a wider audience. Lay’s mass production and worldwide distribution of potato chips soon overshadowed Speck’s legacy. Nonetheless, the accidental discovery of the potato chip by George Speck and Kate Wicks led to the potato chip as we know it today in the US.
Robert Lloyd Smith
Robert Lloyd Smith founded the Farmers’ Improvement Society in 1890 with the goal of guiding Black farmers to economic independence through home and farm ownership, cooperative buying, cash purchasing instead of credit buying, and raising most of their own food. Although born, raised, and educated in South Carolina, R L Smith moved to Oakland, Texas in the late 1870s to become the principal of the Oakland Normal School, a leading teacher-training educational institution in the state. Before founding the Farmers’ Improvement Society, he served as an aide to Booker T Washington, advocating for self-help and solidarity as a means to economic independence and growth for Black US Americans.
Smith founded the Society to assist Black farmers in the area who worked as sharecroppers and tenant farmers. Sharecropping and tenant farming required farmers to rent land from the landowner, give a portion of their crop to landowners as rent, and purchase seeds and equipment from the landowner or from a merchant on credit. Many Black farmers became deeply indebted to landowners. R L Smith challenged this system through the Society which also sponsored agricultural fairs for Black farmers and paid sickness and death benefits. The Society spread throughout Texas and to Oklahoma and Arkansas. Under R L Smith’s leadership the Society grew to include a truck growers’ union, an agricultural college, the Farmers’ Improvement Bank, and the Woman’s Barnyard Auxiliaries, which specialized in better egg, poultry, butter, and swine production.
Alexander P. Ashbourne
Alexander P. Ashbourne was an early inventor. He was born into slavery in Philadelphia around 1820 and while there are very few documented facts about his personal life, it is know that he grew up cutting wheat alongside his family members. This would lead him to think of more efficient ways to cut wheat which would result in an important invention later in life.
Since Ashbourne was born after the Pennsylvania Gradual Abolition Act was passed in 1780, he was not subject to a lifetime of enslavement. Although the exact date of his emancipation is unknown, by 1847 all enslaved people in Pennsylvania had been freed. Ashbourne disappeared from the public record until 1863, when he reemerged working as a caterer. By this time, he was well known and respected in the city. He catered weddings and buffets of the wealthy elite in Philadelphia, and was selected as one of a handful of local caterers for the 1863 Emancipation Celebration held in the city.
While attending this event, Ashbourne noticed that the biscuits were simply hand patted and lacked any real form. He began a decade long process to create a device, a spring-loaded biscuit cutter, that would guarantee a uniform shape and size. Ashbourne applied for a patent for his invention on May 11, 1875, and on November 20, 1876 he was granted a patent for the cutter. The cutter also contained metal plates with various shapes. The cook could push down on the plate to cut the dough into specialized shapes, a method that is still used for numerous baked goods today.
Ashbourne continued to invent, and also received a patent for processing coconut oil on August 21, 1877. The Ashbourne process for refining the oil included filtration, bleaching, high temperature heating, and finally hydrogenation to ensure that no unsaturated fatty acids were left in the oil. Ashbourne began working on this process in 1875 and received a patent for it on July 27, 1880. Thanks to Ashbourne’s early work, coconut oil is widely used in hair products, foods, and scented products today.
What’s the scoop on Alfred Cralle? Born in 1866 in Virginia, just after the end of the American Civil War, Cralle attended local schools and worked for his father in the carpentry trade as a young man. During that period, he also became interested in mechanics.
Cralle was sent to Washington D.C. where he attended Wayland Seminary, a branch of the National Theological Institute, one of a number of schools founded by the American Baptist Home Mission Society immediately after the Civil War to help educate newly freed African Americans. After attending the school for a few years, Cralle moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he worked as a porter at a drugstore and at a hotel.
While working at the hotel, he developed the idea of the ice cream scoop. It came to him when he noticed ice cream servers having difficulty trying to get the popular confection desired by the customer into the cone they were usually holding. The ice cream tended to stick to spoons and ladles, usually requiring the server to use two hands and at least two separate implements to serve customers. Cralle responded to that problem by creating a mechanical device now known as the ice cream scoop. He applied for and received a patent on February 2, 1897.
Cralle’s invention, originally called an Ice Cream Mold and Disher, was designed to be able to keep ice cream and other foods from sticking. It was easy to operate with one hand. Since the Mold and Disher was strong and durable, effective, and inexpensive, it could be constructed in almost any desired shape, such as cone or a mound, with no delicate parts that could break or malfunction. This innovative product has lasted until today as the best method for scooping ice cream. Next time you get a cone or cup, be sure to remember the contributions of Alfred Cralle!
Bryant-Central Co-op was started in the mid-70s and was spearheaded by a community organizer, Moe Burton. Burton, who had been involved in the Socialist Workers Party and the Black Panthers, was drawn to the practicality of the co-op. He worked closely with the Cooperative Organization in Minnesota to create an equitable and affordable store that everyone could benefit from.
While many co-ops at this time focus on healthy food and volunteer workers, Moe fought hard for affordability over all else. The co-op also moved to compensation much quicker than others, hiring young adults and teenagers in the neighborhood to learn skills and stay busy during the summer.
Bryant-Central, unfortunately, closed in 1978, but Seward Co-op filled the need for healthy and affordable food in this neighborhood.
“At Seward Co-op we are proud to honor and build on the legacies of past cooperators. People like W.E.B. Du Bois, Mo Burton, and groups like the Credjafawn Social Club, not to mention, the countless unnamed individuals that did the physical work of starting first wave co-ops are critical in our understanding of the stories of those who came before us. Communities, like our own, have used cooperatives in order to end oppression and eradicate injustices, particularly in food justice.” – Seward Co-op
Virginia Estelle Randolph
Virginia Estelle Randolph was a pioneering educator, community health advocate, organizational leader, and humanitarian. She was born to formerly enslaved parents in Richmond, Virginia in 1870 and would go on to a career in education and community building which spanned nearly 60 years. Her passion for education commitment to her community sparked interracial cooperation which broadened access to educational opportunities and healthcare for Black folks in her community.
As the first countywide Jeanes Supervising Industrial Teacher in the South in 1908, Randolph traveled to every Black school in Henrico County to train teachers and build community support. She was internationally recognized for her methods which were used in rural communities across the South and in British colonies abroad.
As a founding member of the Negro Organization Society, Randolph led major initiatives in public health and continuing education for Black educators and farmers. The society’s motto, “Better Schools, Better Health, Better Homes, and Better Farms,” encompasses Randolph’s holistic approach to community health and wellbeing. To the same end, she was appointed Chairman of the committee in charge of food supplies of the Colored Branch of the Red Cross, of which she was a founding member. Randolph strengthened not only her community, but laid a groundbreaking foundation for community health advocacy and rural education. And although we may not realize it, her contributions have had a lasting legacy as teachers continue her work today.
Wright was born and raised in Marshall, TX and in 1942, she started working for the Johnsons as a maid and cook to help pay her way through college. She ended up staying with the family until 1969, through the duration of Johnson’s presidency. While Johnson was in Congress, his home quickly became known for its food, as other politicians visited regularly and built relationships over Wright’s chile con queso and peach cobbler. Lady Bird Johnson once wrote, “I have yet to find a great chef whose desserts I like as well as Zephyr’s.”
Black women have long contributed to America’s culture of innovation. Martha Jones, who may have been the first Black woman to earn a US patent, was an inventor who made significant contributions to agriculture with her corn husker and sheller. Jones was issued a patent for her “Improvement to the Corn Husker, Sheller” (pictured) in 1868, 59 years after the first white woman received a patent and 47 years after the first Black man. Jones claimed her invention could husk, shell, cut up, and separate husks from corn in one operation, marking a significant step forward in the automation of agriculture. Aside from the information associated with her patent, we don’t know much about the life of Martha Jones.
While Martha Jones is widely believed to be the first Black female recipient of a US patent, it is possible there were Black women who came before her. Time for a bit of patent law history: With the passing of the Patent Act in 1793, patent applicants were required to swear an oath affirming that they were the original inventor of the invention receiving the patent and that they were a US citizen. Fast forward to the 1857 Dred Scott decision which prohibited anyone of African descent from claiming US citizenship and the rights guaranteed by the Constitution to US citizens, regardless of place of birth or status of freedom. In many cases, this prohibited Black folks from receiving patents. However, it is possible that Black female inventors applied for patents through other people, a work around, before Martha Jones. That being said, Jones’ corn husker and sheller represents a major step forward in agricultural processing, regardless of whether or not she was the first Black woman to receive a patent.
If you’ve ever kneaded bread dough by hand you may have found yourself wishing for an easier way to do it. Enter Judy Reed. In keeping yesterday’s theme of early Black women inventors, Judy Reed was issued a US patent in 1883 for her Improved Dough Kneader and Roller (pictured). Her machine allowed bread dough to be more evenly mixed before getting rolled out into a covered chamber. With her invention, Reed directly contributed to advancing both food processing and food safety.
Unfortunately, we don’t know much about the life of Judy Reed. She lived in Washington DC and signed her patent with an “X”. Likely the third Black woman to receive a US patent, Reed lived at a time when Black women inventors received little recognition for their inventions and saw fewer profits. We do know that Judy Reed thought critically about food and food systems and had the mechanical know-how to contribute meaningfully to the process. Most of us still eat store-bought bread on a daily basis, so next time you toast up a slice of bread think of Judy Reed and her contribution to your breakfast!
Combahee River Colony
From mutual aid societies and independent fugitive communities to land and food co-ops, the Black community has a long, but little recognized, tradition of cooperation in the United States. Early forms of cooperation included mutual insurance companies, buying clubs, and collective farming. Both free and enslaved Black people pooled money to pay for burials, land, sick benefits, and buying freedom for one another. The Underground Railroad is another example of a cooperative effort. Cooperation served as a powerful tool, allowing Black folks to improve each other’s lives in the face of blatant racism and active sabotage. Housing and land co-ops offered Black folks access where racist and discriminatory policies would prohibit individual action.
Throughout this long tradition of cooperation, women often founded and ran Black cooperative efforts. This is the case with the Combahee River Colony, which formed in South Carolina during the Civil War. As men left to join the Union Army, Black women in South Carolina took to the Gullah/Geechee Sea Islands in the Combahee River region to grow cotton on abandoned farms. These women formed an intentional community which collectively farmed the area throughout the war and several years after. Eventually, hundreds of women farmed with colony, securing food, shelter, and income for themselves and their families.
Melbah McAfee Smith
Today we’re sharing the story of cooperative developer and 2009 Cooperative Hall of Fame inductee Melbah McAfee Smith. McAfee Smith was born on a rural farm in Mississippi where her family operated 40 acres of fruit, vegetables, and livestock. In 1972, after graduating with a degree in business administration, she began her 40 year career as a co-op developer with the Federation of Southern Cooperatives.
Through her work with the Federation, Mississippi Association of Cooperatives, and the Mississippi Cooperative Development Center, McAfee Smith built co-ops in some of the most impoverished areas of the country. Using the cooperative model and her visionary leadership, McAfee Smith brought health care, economic development, and social justice to the communities she worked with. She helped form more than 25 co-ops and developed invaluable financial support networks to ensure their longevity. After Hurricane Katrina McAfee Smith helped form the state’s first worker-owned business, which created jobs and provided health care for low income and elderly folks in New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward.
Melbah McAfee Smith’s work has propelled the cooperative movement forward. We’re inspired by and grateful for her insight, enthusiasm, and unparalleled intuition when it comes to building communities and grassroots cooperative action. She says, “…I am convinced that cooperation works, and if we work together we can change things, not only in our local communities, but in our regions as well as in this country. There’s a spiritual relationship to working together.” We couldn’t agree more.
Growing Strawberries in Containers
Strawberries grow really well in containers, which means you can grow them in your backyard, on your porch, or even on a balcony with the right light conditions!
Head to the Co-op to get your strawberry plants. We currently have Eversweet Everbearing Strawberry plants. These are ideal for Davis as they tolerate temperatures above 100 degrees F. They’ll produce fruit starting in late Spring through later Summer and early Fall. You can plant these between February and late March after the last frost (since they’re in containers, you can easily move them inside in case we get another really cold night).
I started with 18 individual plants or 3 containers of 6 plants. You can start with just 1 container of 6 plants or more than 3 if you have the containers, space, and appetite.
Procure your containers and potting soil. Strawberries like to spread, so a container that is wider and shallower suits strawberries well. There are specific pots made for strawberries, but any large pot with good drainage will do the trick. For soil, you can look for a raised bed potting blend with a lot of organic matter. You can also look for something slightly acidic (pH between 5.5 and 6.5) if you want to get fancy.
When I went to the nursery to get supplies, they had extra large plastic pots (pictured below) that they gave to me. If you don’t need your pots to look all that cute, you may want to inquire about excess pots at your favorite nursery. It’s a nice way to divert some waste and save some money.
Fill your containers with potting soil. I filled my pots about 4/5 of the way up as I want to give strawberries a chance to spread along the surface.
Wiggle your strawberry plants out of their small containers. Gently shake any excess dirt from the roots and replant in the new containers. The nursery recommended I split my 18 plants up into 2 pots. You don’t want to crowd the berries so many sure they have 4-5 inches of space on all sides.
Continue replanting all of your strawberry plants. You can top with rich compost or organic fertilizer after you pot them, but this isn’t necesary.
Water your plants and place them in partial shade in your backyard, on your porch, or on the balcony. My strawberries get full sun for a few hours, but are in shade most of the day. Water berries when the soil dries out or about once a week in between rain. If you leave them in full sun for longer, check soil moisture levels more often as you may need to give them a bit more water. Full sun for at least part of the day will encourage ripe, sweet berries.
Wait for strawberries! You’ll have fruit in 6-8 weeks and throughout the Summer through early Fall. Harvest in the morning, refrigerate immediately, and enjoy the literal fruits of your labor!
Stay tuned for more posts about propagating strawberries and preparing your strawberry container garden for winter.
Welcome to the Davis Food Co-op’s Souper Bowl From Home!
Two soups go head to head, one soup reigns supreme, you get to eat a lot of delicious soup
In years past, the Davis Food Co-op’s Souper Bowl has drawn large crowds of soup-lovin’ folks to try tasty stews from Davis’ favorite eateries. This year, we invite you to Souper Bowl at home! Below you’ll find two soup recipes. Make one or both and let us know what you think! We’ll post a poll on our Instagram stories on Sunday, February 7th, to find out who wins.
In this year’s Souper Bowl two soups battle it out: Cuban Style Chicken Noodle vs. Kansas City Steak Soup.
Cuban Style Chicken Noodle
This Cuban-inspired Chicken Noodle Soup is for the soul. Chicken thighs and potatoes make it hearty with bright flavors of lemon and tomato.
- 8 boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 2 8-oz cans tomato sauce
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 3 large carrots, chopped
- 1 large russet potato, cut into 1 inch cubes
- 5 cups chicken broth
- 5 cups water
- 1 and 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- Juice from 1/2 large lemon
- 7 oz cut fideo or spaghetti noodles (if using spaghetti, break up into 2 inch pieces)
- Cilantro, green onion, and lemon wedges for garnish
- To a large stock pot, add chicken, tomatoes sauce, salt, onion, carrots, potato, chicken broth, and water. Stir, cover, and bring to a rolling boil. Then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 45 minutes.
- After 45 minutes, remove the chicken thighs using tongs. Shred the chicken using two forks to pull apart the tender meat. Return to pot. Add lemon juice, oregano, and fideo. Bring to a boil, cover, and cook for 9-11 minutes or until noodles are tender.
- Garnish with cilantro leaves, green onion, and serve with a lemon wedge.
Kansas City Steak Soup
This soup celebrates one of the things Kansas City is best known for: BBQ. It tastes like it’s been simmering all day, but this recipe comes together in less than 45 minutes!
- 1 ½ pounds ground sirloin
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 celery ribs, chopped
- 3 1/2 cups beef broth or stock, divided
- 28 oz can diced tomatoes with juice
- 10 oz bag frozen mixed veggies
- 2 tbsp Kansas City style BBQ sauce (sweet and thick with a molasses or brown sugar base)
- 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 2 bay leaves
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- In a large stock pot, add beef, onion, and celery. Brown beef and cook vegetables over medium heat for 8 minutes or until veggies are tender. Drain off liquid and return to heat.
- Add half of the beef broth, tomatoes, frozen veggies, BBQ sauce, Worcestershire, bay leaves, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for, covered, for 20 minutes.
- In the meantime, wisk together flour and remaining beef broth. After the soup has simmered for 20 minutes, add flour and broth mixture to pot. Stir well. Cook until thickened and bubbly, about 5 minutes. Serve immediately.