An update on Strategic Energy Management at the Co-op

By Nina Friedman, Strategic Energy Management intern

“Sometimes there is no time to wait for the storm to calm down! If you have to reach your target, let your voyage start and let the storm be your path!” -- Mehmet Murat İldan

There’s a deadly virus raging, and the world is falling apart - y'know, in case you hadn’t heard. It is indeed a precarious time, but as the Turkish playwright suggests, there is no time to wait: so the Co-op remains steadfast in providing food to the community, prioritizing the health of shoppers and employees, and to our sustainability commitments. Even though some sustainability initiatives are paused during this time of increased precaution, the Co-op charges on through the storm, controlling what we can - like focusing on strategic energy management.

Happy Spring, Co-op owners. My name is Nina Friedman and I’d like to introduce myself as the Co-op’s Sustainability Intern. I joined the team in June of last year as part of the Co-op’s enrollment in the Energy Trust of Oregon’s Strategic Energy Management (SEM) program. My sustainability focus is very specific, as I concentrate on lowering our impact through greater energy efficiency and reducing our reliance on natural gas and other finite resources.

The Co-op began its enrollment in the SEM program at the start of last year; we saved 596 therms, achieving a 2.6% natural gas energy savings compared to our baseline annual energy consumption. Not bad for our first year! Last year’s successes also include establishing the Co-op’s first comprehensive energy policy and annual energy plan. January 2020 marked the beginning of our second year of participation in the Energy Trust of Oregon’s SEM program, and we’re optimistic that our savings will be even higher than last year’s. This year we hope to draw a more complete picture of the Co-op’s energy consumption by expanding our metrics to include electricity data.

To do this work means managing the minutiae, it means investing wholeheartedly in the concept of small actions creating small savings, which create big savings down the line. Small actions, like standardizing thermostat settings, insulating exposed hot water pipes, re-caulking windows, optimizing plug loads, and encouraging staff to flip the switch when lights aren’t in use. These are the wobbly baby steps towards carbon neutrality.

If you’re wondering how to implement some of these energy efficiency practices at home, consider ordering one of Energy Trust of Oregon’s free Energy Savers Kits (only available for Pacific Power or Avista customers). They’ll provide you with products and resources to help reduce your utility bills and your overall impact on the planet. The City of Ashland also provides incentives for a variety of energy efficiency projects around the house; more information can be found on their website. If, like many, you are stuck at home during this sweeping crisis, this may be the best time ever to invest in your home’s energy efficiency.

More Co-op News

2020 Co-op Election Results

2020 Co-op Election Results

Ashland Food Co-op owners voted for three open seats on the Board of Directors, and for ten non-profit organizations for the Change for Good register round-up program.

Click a name below to read more about that Co-op Board member.

Co-op Owners Step-Up to Support the Ashland Emergency Food Bank!

AFC and AEFB Press Release - Local Strength!

Release Date: 5-26-2020

In April, the Ashland Food Co-op Board of Directors announced to the community that the Co-op would be returning 100% of the 2019 Patronage Dividend to its owners. The 100% Patronage Dividend return to Co-op owners converted to over $628,000.

The Co-op Board felt in this time of great need it was not the right time for the Co-op to put away funds for the future, but rather to support owners fully so they may have more strength to weather these stormy times.

Free Monday Night Lectures - virtual and recorded

Thanks to the many agile and adaptable experts in the Rogue Valley, the much-loved Free Monday Night Lectures live on - even if everything is moving online.

While we miss seeing community members with a joy of learning showing up at the Co-op Classroom, we hope these recordings teach and inspire you. 


Open letter from AFC Board on Coronavirus Policies

The Ashland Food Co-op has played a critical role supporting our community for nearly 50 years by providing healthy food and a safe place to shop. With the recent COVID-19 shutdown, this support has been even more important and has stretched our organization in ways that we could not have anticipated. We have endeavored to address the needs of both our staff and our customers, hopefully in the most cooperative manner.

Coronavirus Preparedness at the Co-op

The Ashland Food Co-op acknowledges and shares our community’s concerns about protecting against the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus). The safety and health of staff and customers is a top priority for the Co-op. We are taking proactive steps throughout our store to maintain a clean atmosphere to work and shop.

We have consolidated store changes below.

Owner Voting on 2020 Co-op Board & more

As an owner of the Ashland Food Co-op, you are an important decision-maker in the leadership of the Co-op! A vital part of your ownership is voting for the Board of Directors.

On the ballot: Vote for Board Candidates and Change for Good Organizations

Vote for Board Candidates
This year, four candidates are nominated for three Board positions: each elected Board director will serve a three-year term. The candidates are Ed Claassen, Mark Gibbs, Carolina Livi and Julie O'Dywer.

A dozen local favorites to explore this summer

The Co-op has always had a focus on supporting the strong local scene of growers and producers - and in these times, it's even more important. Here is just a small selection of some of our favorites from the area.  Help support local businesses next time you stop by the Co-op by picking one of these products.

Unwavering Spirit in a Time of Change

By Emile Amarotico, General Manager

It’s been two months since my last update on our Co-op community, but it could just as well have been two years ago, or from an alternate reality! Needless to say, life at the Co-op has changed, and it hasn’t been easy for employees or shoppers. But despite the challenges, it has been an inspiring and reaffirming time that reminds us why we love the cooperative enterprise.

Staying Sustainable in A Changing World

By Rianna Koppel, Sustainability Coordinator

In the midst of a health crisis, how can we focus on sustainability? Let’s be real - these are tough times!

What does sustainability look like now? I like to refer to the definition of sustainability - meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. How can we meet the needs of the present, while keeping the future in mind?

Democracy and Co-ops

By Annie Hoy, Board Director

This month, AFC Owners will democratically elect a slate of board candidates. These candidates are co-op owners, just like you and me. By holding annual elections, co-ops around the world and close to home are expressing Cooperative Principle 2: Democratic Member Control.

2019 Patronage Dividends are available now

From the Board of Directors:

This year, the Co-op Board of Directors is taking unprecedented action to distribute 100% of the over $628,000 2019 Patronage Dividend to our owners. In this time of great need, there is no holding back. This is not the moment to put away funds for the future, but rather to support our owners fully so that we may all have more strength to weather the storm.

Beans from Scratch

Michelle isn't serving up samples right now, so she's serving up kitchen tips instead! Here's her tried and true approach to cooking dry beans, plus some extra tips for upping your flavor, saving time, and cook other legumes. (Ingredients and modifications are below the video.)


Tips to Stay Safe and Limit Waste

By Mahlea Rasmussen, Education Coordinator
Inspired by Bea Johnson's Zero Waste Home

We are in uncertain times and some of you may be second-guessing some of your zero waste practices and replacing them with safety measures for you and your family. I was proud not to have chemical cleaners in my home and never used plastic gloves - but now those products are being suggested for staying clean and safe. Here are some tips to keep your home safe while working towards more sustainability.