We are writing to update you on the efforts we - and many of you - have made to establish a co-op grocery store in Hudson. You may know that we nearly leased a space recently. But at that time, it became clear to the majority of us that we had not laid the organizational or financial groundwork to support that long-term commitment.
The principal organizer of Acres Co-op has been Peter Pehrson. Peter’s vision and presentation seemed plausible and exciting. His idea for a co-op market coupled with food education and other community-building activities addressed real needs. We were inspired by Peter to join the board and make it happen.
Peter is paid a salary, funded by a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant through the New York Sustainable Agriculture Working Group, whose mission is the propagation of local food systems. We therefore assumed that he understood all that this project would require – the nuts-and-bolts as well as the good ideas. We followed his lead, more or less uncritically. When it came time to commit to the lease, however, we had only a fraction of the money required for inventory, equipment, and other expenses needed to establish a store. Peter and the majority of the board disagreed on how to proceed. He has since resigned from the board and the co-op.
It is now too late in the growing season to get commitments from local growers to supply a store. And we still believe it would be self-defeating to open without adequate funds to operate for at least a year. Therefore we have suspended activities, to step back, rethink and make a realistic plan. In the meantime, we will refund what remains of membership fees received. A public meeting will be held to elicit interest, energy and ideas for moving forward. (It will not take place on July 13, as previously announced; a new date and time will be announced shortly.)
Regrettably, expectations were raised that have been disappointed. But the need for a Hudson co-op remains strong. Much can be learned from this experience, and a lot has already been done that can contribute to a co-op’s success.
Mike Loki Anthony