After nearly three years of planning and real estate hunting andbuilding a following, the Bay Ridge Food Co-op has begun takingorders from its subscriber base.
The first order was received on Friday, May 13, from theLancaster Farm Cooperative in Pennsylvania and last week, co-oporganizers received a $1,500 Community Groundbreaker grant checkfrom the nonprofit Citizens Committee for New York City (CCNYC),aimed at helping them continue to get their feet off the ground andto expand outreach.
The grant was part of the nonprofit’s New Yorkers for BetterNeighborhoods project and the co-op was chosen as a recipientbecause of its outstanding role as a Community Groundbreaker. Itis one of 12 grant winners that focus on food access throughout thecity.
There is a big need for access to fresh, healthy food insouthwest Brooklyn and the co-op is doing its part to address thatneed, said Andrew Gounardes, director of external affairs forCCNYC. Bay Ridge has a long history of residents coming togetherand volunteering to make the neighborhood better and stronger. Itis a testament to the continued vibrancy of the community that thevolunteers of the Food Co-op came together [for this cause].
Gounardes is also the co-op’s newest member. He joins over 300existing members who live in Bay Ridge, Sunset Park, Dyker Heightsand Bensonhurst. I believe in their mission [and] I like to knowwhere my food comes from, he explained, noting the frequency atwhich supermarket produce is recalled or is in less than freshcondition. Eating local produce also helps support the localeconomy [and] it’s cheaper. I can’t always afford to go to thegourmet or organic supermarket to shop according to my values.
As with other food cooperatives such as the Park Slope FoodCo-op, the Bay Ridge Food Co-op is owned and operated by itsmembers, each of whom pay a $200 membership fee and volunteer tostaff the as-yet-unbuilt store.
According to co-op organizer David Marangio, the group may havetaken over two years to get this far, but being surrounded bypassionate and enthusiastic people has helped.
We’re starting a buying club and our hope as a co-op is toreally bring to the area, local farmers, [a sense of] ownership,and making choices that are fresh, sustainable and local, saidvolunteer Risa Novikoff. Other benefits, she noted, are that as agroup, members can keep costs down and also give input.
For more information about the co-op, membership details andcost, visit www.foodcoopbayridge.com or email them firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit their booth at theBay Ridge Greenmarket every Saturday at 95th Street and ThirdAvenue.