Many Hands Make Light Work!

What a day, this last Saturday! A big THANK YOU to all who volunteered to help us update and beautify the Co-op! We began with some prep work last weekend but this Saturday was the busiest day, with 25+ volunteers helping paint, garden, and set up our new outdoor eating area. See our photo gallery below!

Sally Lamas and her crew of family and friends worked on the front of the store. We have new colors on the storefront as well as two murals of fruits and veggies on the front and side of the building. Sara McGrath coordinated the muralists for our back wall, where we had friends of all ages contributing their talents. Anne Wyatt cleared a lot of weeds and arranged plants for our seating area. Carl Meissner and Steve McGrath have nearly finished the work on the screening at the front entrance. Aimee Wyatt came early to set up shade and food for our volunteers and helped out with everyone during the day.

There was also a lot of activity inside the Co-op! We were happy to host Virginia and Trevor Marum of Vert Foods and their class of nearly 20 people who learned how to prepare several different fermented foods. Be sure to visit Vert's website for info on their upcoming classes. In addition, we were glad to have Tammy from Gracious Greens here sampling her delicious microgreens.

We still have some finishing up to do but we can't believe how much everyone accomplished together in only one day. We are so grateful to our generous and talented Co-op community. Thank you!

 

Meet Artist Sally Lamas!

During the month of August, artist Sally Lamas, will be designing and painting two murals on the front and side of the Co-op. The murals will feature the beauty of our local produce such as ruby red watermelon, bright green bell peppers and purple eggplants. Sally wants to show the insides of these fruits and vegetables when they've been sliced. "When I cut into a furry, brown kiwi, I'm always surprised by the interior," she said. "The brilliant green radiating with lighter stripes and all those black seeds just delight me!"

Samples of Sally's work.

Samples of Sally's work.

Sally has been painting and illustrating full-time on the Central Coast for the past five years but she's been creating art since she was a wee lass. Her main subjects are the creatures that live in our ocean, the deserts of Africa (where she was a Peace Corps Volunteer), and in her own backyard. She has shown her paintings, children's furniture, and greeting cards at Art After Dark in San Luis Obispo, Mama Ganache Artisan Chocolates in SLO (where her greeting card line is sold), Art in the Park at Dinosaur Caves in Shell Beach, Forever Stoked in Morro Bay for the annual Morro Bay Surfboard Art Festival, and the Inn at Morro Bay. Last fall, she completed two public murals on utility boxes in Pismo Beach along Dolliver Street. Her box titled "Whale Ballet" is located on the corner of Dolliver and Hind and "Otter Banquet" at the corner of Dolliver and Ocean View.  Sally completed her first mural commission of an idyllic beach scene in a private residence in Atascadero.

Keep your eyes out to see these murals as they progress!

More of Sally's work.

More of Sally's work.

Rancho La Familia!

We are proud to offer Rancho La Familia's certified organic produce here at SLO Natural Foods Co-op. From August 2 - August 15, you'll get an additional 10% off our already low prices on Rancho La Familia produce including lettuce, kale, broccoli, strawberries, raspberries, and more!

Rancho La Familia in Santa Maria got its start when Virginia Cortez decided that she wanted to own and farm her own land. As a single mother, it was very difficult for her to secure a loan but she persisted, and in 1999 she was able to buy some land that she had previously leased. Virginia started with 10 acres and kept adding to it. Now, including son Omar's land next door, Rancho La Familia is a 50 acre family farm.

And a family farm it truly is, with Virginia, Luis Sr., and their three adult children all working in different aspects of the business. Luis Sr. does some of the marketing and deliveries, and Omar works in marketing as well as overseeing the many farmers' markets they attend. Luis Jr. works on the tractors and other machinery preparing the ground and planting, and Veronica manages the office. In addition to their own family, they also have employees who work on the farm to plant, grow, and harvest the many crops grown at Rancho La Familia.

Beautiful certified organic produce from Rancho La Familia at our Local Vendor Fair, June 2017.

Beautiful certified organic produce from Rancho La Familia at our Local Vendor Fair, June 2017.

Nearly all their land is in production and all of their produce is certified organic. Achieving and maintaining organic certification requires a large investment of time and attention to all the documentation and record keeping, not to mention the inspections on the farm, but maintaining this is very important to Virginia and her family.

A wide variety of crops are grown at Rancho La Familia throughout the year. Some, such as beans, tomatoes, blackberries, and raspberries, are grown during warmer weather but other crops like broccoli, cauliflower, kale, carrots, fennel root, lettuces (and even strawberries!) are grown year-round. Succession planting -- starting broccoli every 8-10 days, for example -- allows a crop to be grown and harvested throughout the year. The family hopes to utilize some hoop houses on Omar's property for growing blackberries and raspberries year-round, rather than only in the summer.

In addition to getting the hoop houses into production, future plans include adding more equipment such as another tractor and bug vacuum to increase efficiency and allow Rancho La Familia to expand their operation. The family enjoys their small orchard and may add more trees to allow fruit sales as well.

Virginia is very happy that her children have come back to the farm to work together after getting their educations. She most enjoys being outside and feels lucky to live and work on this land with her family among all the organic food crops and the cherry and peach trees in their family orchard. Both Virginia and Omar emphasized that they enjoy having visitors on their farm so that people can see that the food they buy from Rancho La Familia is actually grown there, that it is their own production, and that no herbicides and pesticides are used. The goal at Rancho La Familia is to make sure all of the produce is safe both for their family and for their customers.

Be sure to follow Rancho La Familia on Facebook and on Instagram @rancholafamiliainc for their latest news.

Produce Buyer Tifney got a tour of beautiful Rancho La Familia from Omar Guevara.

Produce Buyer Tifney got a tour of beautiful Rancho La Familia from Omar Guevara.

Member-Owner Benefit Updates

A reminder for Co-op Member-Owners: there are updates to your benefits, as described here in the special notice from Board President Eric Michielssen that was sent on May 31, 2017. The last day to use daily and double discounts will be August 14, 2017.

Among other benefits, active Member-Owners will enjoy special sales and promotions. One of these is our monthly "First Friday" special kicking off Friday, July 7th. Every item in the Bulk Foods and Bulk Herbs & Teas departments will be 10% off, so stock up on culinary and medicinal herbs, coffee, teas, seeds, beans, grains, nuts, flour, sweeteners, dried fruits, and more for big savings! This discount even applies to items that are already on sale. Wellness items sold in bulk are not included in this sale.

Take advantage of these savings by making sure you are an active Member-Owner!

 

LEFT: Bulk Foods, CENTER: Culinary & Medicinal Herbs and Teas, RIGHT: Bulk Coffee Beans.

LEFT: Bulk Foods, CENTER: Culinary & Medicinal Herbs and Teas, RIGHT: Bulk Coffee Beans.

Local Vendor Fair Wrap-Up

On Saturday, June 3, more than 20 local vendors were here sampling their foods and products for our Co-op owners and shoppers. It was a lovely day and we all enjoyed live music from The Cimo Brothers before and after the Annual Membership Meeting.

After the Members' vote was held, we welcomed two more people to our Board of Directors: Kellye Grayson and Dan Niles, who has served on the board previously. Thanks to both for stepping up and volunteering!

And thanks to all of you who make up our Co-op community: our local vendors, our Member-Owners and shoppers, and our dedicated staff and board!

June 3rd: Save the Date!

The Annual Membership Meeting will be held at the Co-op on Saturday, June 3, 2017 at 1:00 PM. Co-op community owners will also be voting on Board candidates.

Our Local Vendor Fair will be going on that same day, from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM, with music, special prices, and more! Please come meet our local vendors as they showcase their products that we proudly feature in our store.

Keep an eye out for more details at the Co-op and if you are interested in helping us share even more local food and products, it's a great time to consider Board membership right now. New faces are welcome!

Fun times at our 2016 annual membership meeting and local vendor fair.

Fun times at our 2016 annual membership meeting and local vendor fair.

Thank You, Albert!

Some of you may have met Albert Rodriguez, a Cal Poly student who has worked this past year as a marketing intern here at the Co-op. He helped with several surveys, special events, and other marketing duties, and he was a regular attendee at the Co-op's monthly Board meetings.

We wish to congratulate Albert on his graduation from Cal Poly last quarter and also to thank him for all the work he has done here at the Co-op. We really appreciate it.

Gwen and Albert. Thank you for all the hard work!

Gwen and Albert. Thank you for all the hard work!

Templeton Hills Beef

We are proud to offer local, sustainable, and naturally raised beef from Templeton Hills Beef. Here at SLO Natural Foods Co-op you can find their ground beef, sirloin steaks and tip roasts, brisket roasts, and beef riblets. From April 5 – April 18, Grass Fed and Grass Finished Ground Beef from Templeton Hills Beef is on sale for $8.99 lb., (reg. $9.99 lb.).

Templeton Hills Beef partners Will Woolley and Alton Emery are fourth and fifth generation California ranchers (Alton from Paso Robles), but it wasn’t until 2010 that they saw an opportunity and decided to go into business together raising grass fed and grass finished beef.

Will Woolley, Darian Buckles, Katie Emery, and Alton Emery. Photo courtesy of Templeton Hills Beef.

Will Woolley, Darian Buckles, Katie Emery, and Alton Emery. Photo courtesy of Templeton Hills Beef.

Grass fed and grass finished means that their Angus cattle graze the hills of Templeton and Paso Robles for their whole lives and are not ‘finished’ before market on grain in a feedlot. Alton and Will manage their pastures by utilizing rotational grazing. The cattle are periodically moved to fresh pasture, which mimics natural behavior and is better both for the cattle and the land. Their grass fed and grass finished cattle are not given any hormones or antibiotics.

The North County butchers who harvest the steers are strictly small-batch, and only process one or two animals per day. This procedure is not rushed in any way, and when the meat is ground it comes from a single animal; it is not a mixture of many animals, like commercial ground beef. The butchers are USDA inspected and certified and the meat carries the USDA label as well.

The benefits of grass fed, grass finished beef are many. It is much more humane for cattle to live and finish on pasture than to be finished on grain (not a natural food for cattle) and in overcrowded feedlots, conditions that lead to widespread use of antibiotics. The land also benefits because rotational grazing allows the pastures to rest and recover, and not become overgrazed. For people, grass fed and grass finished beef is lower in saturated fat and calories and higher in many nutrients including good fats like Omega-3 fatty acid, Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA), and Vitamins A and E.  

If you are new to cooking with this leaner beef, know that it requires less cooking time. When converting recipes from conventional to grass fed beef, Alton and Will recommend cutting the cooking time by about 40%; you can always cook longer if needed.  For tips on proper thawing, seasoning, and cooking, as well as many tasty recipes, be sure and visit the Templeton Hills Beef website.

Board Meeting Thurs, March 23

Just a reminder that the SLO Natural Foods Co-op Board of Directors meets this evening, Thursday, March 23rd at 5:30p. All are welcome to attend to learn more about the Co-op's operations and plans. Every meeting opens with a public comment period.

The Board meets at the SLO County Builders Exchange, 153 Cross Street, Suite 130 in SLO. Map is here.

We hope to see you!

In the News

Did you see the article in SLO City News and other Tolosa Press publications recently? Gwen, Eric, and Aimee explain how membership in the National Co+op Grocers (NCG) will allow for bigger discounts and better product selection here at the Co-op!

Read their interview here at SLO City News.

Board President Eric Michielssen, General Manager Gwen Schmidt, and former Board President Aimee Wyatt.

Board President Eric Michielssen, General Manager Gwen Schmidt, and former Board President Aimee Wyatt.

Health Fair Fun

Our Third Annual Health Fair last Saturday was a great success! The rain held off and we enjoyed seeing so many familiar faces as well as meeting people new to the Co-op. We even had a few folks join as new Member-Owners.

Thanks to all of our generous vendors; the wellness vendors who shared samples, raffle prizes, and plenty of product knowledge and our food vendors, who sampled out delicious and nutritious food for all of us.

Save More with Co+op Basics!

We are pleased to introduce our new Co+op Basics program which offers everyday low prices on many popular grocery and household items. From milk to peanut butter to toothpaste, you'll find both new value-priced brands as well as new low prices on some of your old favorites.

As a member of the National Co+op Grocers (NCG), we're able to purchase products at a lower cost and are then able to pass the savings on to you through the Co+op Basics program. We're committed to improving our product selection so that everyone can find mroe value when shopping here at the Co-op. Beginning on March 1st, you'll find Co+op Basics items in the store. Just look for the purple tags with the Co+op Basics logo.

Board Meeting Thursday, Feb 16

Just a reminder that the SLO Natural Foods Co-op Board of Directors will meet on Thursday, February 16th from 5:30p to 7:30p. All are welcome to attend to meet the Board members and learn more about the Co-op's operations and plans. Every meeting opens with a public comment period. Here is a link to the meeting agenda.

The Board will meet at the SLO County Builders Exchange, 153 Cross Street, Suite 130 in SLO. Map is here. We hope to see you!

And Away We Go!

Welcome to our blog, where we'll share stories about SLO Natural Foods Co-op and our community, both our team here at the store, and our amazing suppliers: the farmers, the bakers, the soap makers, and so many more. These are the people who grow and create the good things that we share with all of you. In addition, we'll let you know about new vendors and products, recipe ideas, and much more.

If you haven't already, sign up for our monthly newsletter (link on right sidebar). We will not share your personal information. In the newsletters, you'll find our monthly sales flyer as well as Co-op updates and community events.

Please feel free to contact us anytime as we always want to hear your comments and suggestions.