Inverness cooperative closes, lacking members

06/26/2014

The Foodshed, a volunteer-run food cooperative that opened in Inverness in late 2012, will close this month, the result of an exhausted steering committee that says it doesn’t have enough help from the coop’s small membership. The closure is hopefully temporary, committee members announced at a meeting at the Dance Palace on Tuesday evening: although there are no guarantees it will reopen, they plan to regroup in the winter and brainstorm solutions to make the coop more sustainable. “After a little respite the idea is to revamp and reopen the coop in a new location,” likely somewhere in Point Reyes Station, said Molly Myerson, a founding member of a steering committee that has shrunk to a handful of volunteer members: a couple who runs a fermented foods business, Maggie Levinger and Luke Regalbuto, and two farmers, Arron Wilder and Ms. Myerson. (A fifth, Cathleen Dorinson, joined a few months ago.) They started out with what Ms. Myerson described as a “radical idealism,” believing that robust participation from members could fuel the all-organic cooperative, which offers bulk goods and some local produce and eggs. But in reality, the committee became almost entirely responsible for day-to-day operations. In November, the coop had a major meeting calling for members to take on more responsibilities; although a few stepped up, the committee continued to bear the brunt of the work. A part-time operations coordinator quit for personal reasons soon after training, and the committee lacked the time or energy to go through another hiring process. Part of the problem might also be the Inverness location, which appears to have contributed to the halving of the coop’s membership over the past year and a half (the remaining 40-some members mostly live in town). The problem, the group emphasized, wasn’t money. “The financial aspect of it is that we’re breaking even…in that way it’s a success. We’re not in the red by any means. Where we are in the red is manpower,” said Mr. Regalbuto. If they do relocate to Point Reyes, a broader membership base just might produce more volunteers to make the coop viable. — Samantha Kimmey