Two Steps Forward, Two Steps Back
It isn't every day that we feel growing pains....just on days that end in "y".  Ha!

This co-op effort jumped out of the gates like the horses at the Kentucky Derby!  Everyone excited, everyone jumping in, and a buzz around town was circulating so fast, that I (Melissa) was getting calls from friends in other cities telling me, "Melissa, you HAVE to hear about this new farm co-op!"  Little did they know, it was ME creating it!  

My passion for farms--and helping them grow--stemmed from getting the chance to watch one grow, and seeing God bless that farmer's family in so many ways through their work.  In addition to providing for him and his family, I had a front row seat to the excitement and appreciation from their customers!  The fact that I'd drive to the farm (which was 2 hours from my home), pick up all of their orders, and bring it all back to them (so they didn't have to) gained me many friendships over many years!  I'm excited about the new friendships forming through the work of Alabama Farm Co-op!

But, at the same time, there are some areas that need some "figuring out" to keep us going (and growing).  This co-op started so fast that it quickly became more work than one person can do.  I'm not lacking in work ethic, and I'll sweat it out with the best of them, but it is, quite literally, impossible for one person to drive two vehicles in two different directions on the same day.  This has led to multiplied expenses for both pickup and delivery.  Unfortunately, after gaining some counsel from the experience of a widely known leader in the homesteading and "rogue food" world, there may be some upcoming changes required for us to serve more farms and more customers.  (Don't give up yet--we're working all of this out, and YOU might be able to be part of the problem-solving!  See below as you read.)

First, our customers WANT more farms and foods from which to choose!  We aren't limited to just a handful of farms--we want YOU customers to have your pick!  Specifically, we've had requests for more produce options (organic AND non-organic), local dairy products, health remedies and other products, and, yes, even more meat producers!  Not everyone is looking for 100% grassfed (though many are).  They just want to support local Alabama farms!  And that's exactly why we exist!

When we add more farms and vendors, we also add more customers.  Now, we already have over 300 paid members--this is amazing!  But not all are ordering, and we'd love to have more farms and vendors to provide what THEY are looking for!  (So if you are a farm or vendor, please fill out our Producer Info Form on our website, and we WILL get back to you.  If you have filled it out previously, you can expect a call in early July!)

Second, we are being advised to work toward having a "pickup only" service.  I'm not sure how I FEEL about it, because we've got a great delivery route going right now, but I'm open to this possibility.  Whatever will help us serve more farms and customers, while keeping expenses low enough to keep this going longterm--that's what we want to do! 

To make some of these big decisions, we'd like to consult with a "multitude of counselors".  If you are a fellow "ideas person" and you'd like to help us make our system even better by giving us your opinions and feedback within a group of purposed team members, we'd like to invite you to apply to be part of our new Advisory Team of volunteers!  This team will be made up of farmers, vendors, and customers, and we will have a few primary conversations, with, hopefully, a regular and ongoing discussion where you will get to have your voice heard regarding our processes.  (We've been getting feedback all of this time, but many things need a real "roundtable" discussion.)  If you'd like to apply to be part of our Advisory Team, please email us at  Simply put Advisory Team in the subject line, and we'll email you back a form or link to get more information from you.  

Third, we are going back to our foundation.  Many of you in areas that are rural or at least NEAR the rural areas are practically begging us to come to you.  And we KNOW that you want to get in on these great foods and products from our network of farms and vendors.  But our foundation is to come to the outskirts, get the foods and goodies, and bring them back to where the people are NOT near the farms.  The reason is simply this:  there are some GREAT farms right there IN your areas!  We do not want to compete with the farms in their own regions.  We want to see you support them, see them feed you, and to see those relationships blossom!  But for those in the cities and suburbs, we hope that we can fulfill our purpose of "bringing more customers to the bringing the farms' products to the customers!" 

And finally, I've got lots of heart to share about Alabama Farm Co-op!  I want to encourage more Alabamians to shop local, eat local, support local--especially the farms!  There is no doubt in MY mind that being connected with the farms will, one day, be a MUST.  There is also no doubt that the two statements I say frequently are true.  The first is, "It takes ALL the farms to feed ALL the people."  And the second, "No farms; no food."

This purpose is important.  It's why I created Alabama Farm Co-op.  So, even if we've been doing Paula Abdul's dance, thus far--we are looking ahead and what the future can hold, and working toward that!  



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