Green Bay Packers vs. Oshkosh Food Co-op

As we gear up for another Packers season, it’s sometimes fun to reflect on the history of the team. For 100 years, The Packers have called Green Bay, Wisconsin, a town with a population of just over 100,000 people, home. Despite pressures to move to bigger markets that contain more people who could call themselves fans, The Green Bay Packers have remained loyal to the community that gave them life.

Why are The Green Bay Packers so loyal to Green Bay? Is it because the team is called The Green Bay Packers? No, that’s not it. The name in front of the team could easily change (think of the Cleveland, then Los Angeles, then St. Louis, then again Los Angeles Rams). Keeping up with the name changes of these teams can be as difficult as keeping up with the Kardashians. A name of a team can easily be changed when the owner decides to move the team from one city to another.

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If you build it..

Over a decade ago, my wife and I picked up the farming bug while working for a young couple that was creating a small farm on an island off the coast of Panama.  More than a few far-fetched ideas rattled around our heads during long afternoon beach walks that followed humid mornings of planting, harvesting and tending animals.  Neither of us grew up in agriculture or had any formal ag training, but a dream of a farm kept growing in us the more time we spent with our hands in the soil.

Months later we returned north, more excited than ever to learn about sustainable agriculture.  We followed a familiar path; first, researching and reading all manner of farm books, then visiting farms and talking with growers.  A couple of years went by and it seemed like we might never get a chance to put all our research into practice, until one day the phone rang and our journey became a lot more real.  An opportunity to care-take a farm in exchange for rent landed on our doorstep.  A seed order was submitted and a delivery date for chicks was set!


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Co-op Offers Options to Shop Local and Invest Local

The buzz of our member-owned grocery store continues!  Chances are you've been hearing about our upcoming Capital Campaign.  Part of this will involve member loans, an exclusive offering available to Oshkosh Food Co-op members only.  

Member loans allow Co-op members to earn interest on this investment in your own community while providing the Co-op with funding that is typically less costly and more flexible than traditional bank financing. This can allow Co-ops to launch faster. Sounds nice, right?

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The Oshkosh Food Co-op Co-mentum Continues


Oshkosh Food Co-op members and board have been hard at work of reaching our next milestone of 1,000 member-owners.  Members like you have been spreading the Co-op story, leading to steady and sustained growth in membership. THANK YOU!

Why is the magic number 1,000?

The Oshkosh Food Co-op is being built with the support of many national Co-op organizations that have overcome challenges and replicated the recipe for a successful food co-op. The Food Co-op Initiative Model has several stages and your co-op is currently at Stage 2b:


“Stage II: Feasibility & Planning There are two aspects of Stage II. The 2a Feasibility component comprises in-depth assessments of market potential, financial feasibility, organizational commitment and capacity, and preliminary design feasibility. The 2b Planning component begins once the probability of feasibility has been determined through a thorough assessment. Planning includes many components, including pro forma financial budgets, the formal business plan, capital campaign planning, initial contacts with external lenders, general manager search, and site selection. The feasibility & planning stage ends when a site has been secured through lease or purchase, with contingencies (e.g., contingent upon obtaining full financing) or with an option agreement. This is a major decision point for the co-op.”


The co-op became 800 members strong in March, then hit the 900 member milestone in June. This progress has launched a more serious phase of planning. Your board is working to build a strong foundation so that your member-owned grocery store will be a strong, successful business with a clear competitive advantage to offer the market it serves.

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Co-op Owner Redefining Local Food

“Local food has become a trend word that doesn’t have the meaning people expect,” Tracy said with passion. Organic farmer Tracy Vinz explains the misconceptions facing the producers of local food and the consumers that want to buy local fresh food. Over time, the desire to eat local food has flourished, but the definition behind what makes a food “local” has become less defined.

The general idea of eating locally is based on the following ideas: Eating food that was grown and/or produced within 100 miles of where you live. 

  • Purchasing food directly from local growers firsthand
  • Buying food from local farm stands/markets
  • Growing, hunting, fishing your own food

With the trend growing, an even broader idea of local eating often includes:

  • Food grow in your region
  • Food grown in your country

Tracy and her husband Richard are the proud owners of Olden Organics, a 100 acre certified organic fresh produce farm with a four generation history. The farm is in its 14th growing season season and 3rd year processing a line of raw vegetables in the processing facility on site. 

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Strong member loan program key to Co-op success

As the number of member owners approaches 1,000, the Oshkosh Food Co-Op is now very close to selecting a site for the store.  After securing that site, the next step will be to raise necessary start-up funds to build and operate our store.  Those funds will come from memberships, member loans, outside loans, grants, and donations.
  • Member loan programs
These are the key to helping co-ops raise capital and also ensure community support for co-op stores. They demonstrate strong and loyal customer support, and also reduce debt service, making the co-ops stronger.
  • Commercial loans
These involve higher interest rates than member loans, and require payback to begin immediately.  Beginning to repay loans in the critical first few years puts a strain on the financials.  That’s why our member loans will be the key to Co-op success.

  • Grants and Contributions
The Oshkosh Food Co-op plans a vigorous donor campaign as another part of our campaign strategy.  Since the co-op provides great community benefit, it can accept donor funds to assist with many start-up costs.  The Oshkosh Area Community Foundation will serve as our fiscal agent.
The Co-op is also eligible for local, state and federal grants because of its commitment to sustainable local and regional agriculture. 
We’ve done our homework to help create a successful campaign. One of the most valuable sources of information has come from existing co-ops. Some we’ve talked to include Fredericksburg Food Co-op (Fredericksburg, VA,) Menomonie Market (Menomonie, WI,) Wild Root - (Racine, WI) and Prairie Root - (Fargo, ND).
Co-ops like these, and others nationwide, have had numerous funding sources, and especially very successful member loan programs. It is fantastic to see how community members can invest together to create such a vital community-owned asset. The money comes from the community... and stays in the community.
As the pieces fall into place, watch for frequent updates about the Oshkosh Food Co-op.  Member-owners will be first to get information about the specifics of the Campaign and the store location.
Join the Oshkosh Food Co-op NOW. Help get to ground-breaking, and stay updated on YOUR new grocery store.

Inside of a Wisconsin Food Co-op

You've no doubt been hearing the buzz about our Oshkosh Food Co-op.  You may know we're currently searching for our location, and that we are only 85 members away from launching our capital campaign.

However, you may wonder what the heck a food co-op looks like on the inside. 

You're in luck, because member-owner Kelly Matthews recently visited the Viroqua Food Co-op and gave us a great tour of their store.

Can you envision a store like this in Central Oshkosh? 

If you're not yet a member, please join us in making this a reality.

New faces with the Oshkosh Food Co-op

We have some very exciting news to share-

We welcome 4 new board members and our new PROJECT MANAGER!

Pictured above, from left to right:

Susan Vette, Tracy Vinz, Project Manager Laura Schwartzburg, Warren Bergman, and Peter Westort.

Susan Vette is a longtime Oshkosh resident and has served on numerous community boards such as President of the Oshkosh Symphony Orchestra, Christine Ann Domestic Abuse Services (founder Men Who Cook); and the Grand Opera House Foundation- to name a few!  She is a graduate of Rose C. Swart Campus School, Oshkosh High School, and UW Madison. Her professional career as an advertising copywriter and account executive, along with her marketing and communications expertise, will be an excellent addition to the Food Co-op Board.

Tracy Vinz has been farming her entire life, and currently runs her farm Olden Organics, a year round Certified Organic fresh produce farm located in the Town of Rosendale. She sells their produce and line of Veggie Creations at local farmers markets, privately owned local grocery stores, and to other WI Food Co-ops. Additionally, she proudly serves as a member of the Oshkosh Farmers Market Board of Directors.  We welcome Tracy's perspective as a producer to our Board!

Project Manager Laura Schwartzburg has worked in fundraising in the non-profit industry for more than 15 years. Through her consulting practice, she helps non-profits generate the support they need to be successful. She is passionate about poverty and the effects it has on people and communities. She sees the benefits a Food Co-op can bring to people living in a food desert.  Laura obtained CFRE (Certified Fundraising Executive) accreditation in 2017 and holds a Master’s in Organizational Leadership and Quality from Marian University.  She served as Board President for Mahala’s Hope and Chair of the Equal Opportunity Commission in Fond du Lac. She also enjoys volunteering at the Humane Society, letting large dogs take her for walks. She has spent summers working on an organic farm, learning about all things produce farm related.

Warren Bergmann is a "semi retired" teacher, bringing his skills in communications and public relations to our Board. Warren is active as a music festival adjudicator, camp orchestra director, and substitute teacher in Oshkosh and Neenah. He also  volunteers with the social justice organization FitOshkosh.   His personal commitment to living a healthy lifestyle and supporting the local food system are an inspiration.  

Peter Westort returns to the Board with a wealth of expertise in Accounting and Taxation.  Peter earned a Ph.D. in Accounting from the University of Oregon, an MBA from the University of Southern Maine, and a bachelor’s degree from St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia. He is also a CPA and was a Fulbright Scholar in Alexandria, Egypt for the 2011-2012 academic year.   Peter has been involved in not-for-profit organizations in a variety of capacities including AFS (American Field Service), United Way, Boy Scouts of America, UW Oshkosh Credit Union Assets and Liability Committee.   

We are so excited for this HUGE milestone in our project.   Can't you just feel the #comentum?

2019 Annual Meeting + Agenda

The Oshkosh Food Co-op's Annual Meeting is an important time to mingle with fellow members, vote for your Board of Directors and hear about the State of the Coop.

If you haven't already submitted your RSVP, please do so here.

Here is the Agenda for this year's meeting:

5 pm: Voting opens. Social hour that includes delicious appetizers, a photo booth, kids activities, and more.

6 pm: Voting ends, meeting begins.   

  • Welcome
  • Approve minutes
  • State of the Coop
  • Announce newly elected Board Members
  • Door prizes

6:30 Meeting Adjourned, social hour until 7 pm



2019 Board of Directors Candidates

We are excited to announce this year's Oshkosh Food Co-op Board of Director's candidates!

Our board consists of nine seats. Each year, three board positions are open for election. Board members hold positions for three-year terms, and elections are held in the first half of every year. This year we have four board seats open with one incumbent re-running. We would like to thank our retiring board members for their generous time and commitment to the Oshkosh Food Co-op.

2019 Board of Directors Candidate Slate. You will have the opportunity to vote for up to four of these candidates. Please click the links below to read the nomination statement that each of the candidates has prepared as you consider your vote.

Who is eligible to vote: Every primary member (each member household gets one vote) that became a member on or before March 5, 2019 is eligible to vote.

There are two ways to vote:

  1. At the annual meeting! All primary members can vote in-person at the Annual Meeting on Wednesday, April 3, 2019. Be sure to stop by the elections table to cast your ballot.
  2. Online! An email will be sent to each eligible primary member at least two weeks prior to the Annual Meeting. Online elections will close at 11:59pm on Sunday, March 31, 2019. Additional instructions will be included in the email.

 If you have any questions, contact us by email at [email protected]

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