October update from the General Manager

A happy late October to everyone! There has been quite a bit going on around these parts… my last update was in August, at which time we had announced our next major milestone goals: officially signing our lease and ordering refrigeration. And since then we’ve done both of those things!


Firstly, we are now officially tenants in the beautiful Schmid Innovation Center (formerly known as the CARADCO Building) at 955 Washington St, #107 Dubuque, Iowa 52001.  I say ‘officially’ because the great folks at Gronen Properties have actually been reserving this space for us for a couple of years, which is every bit as generous as it sounds.  Secondly, the orders for all of our refrigeration equipment have been placed and we’re awaiting information on potential arrival dates.

I would like to note that the floor plan that was presented to me when I first joined the Dubuque Food Co-op was very sensible and reflected the hard work that the Board had undertaken.  After spending some time with the plan I decided that I wanted to expand upon that work to improve our operational systems and enhance the selection of what we could provide to our members.  The Board gave me the thumbs-up, and I’m proud to say that we’ve successfully updated the design to allow for a better selection of fresh products.  We’ll now be able to provide a more comprehensive Protein program, with red meat, pork, poultry, and seafood, as well as an improved selection of local and specialty cheeses, and our entire fresh food program now will have room to expand in scope as we grow.  It’s exciting to know that we can increase the number of local and sustainable vendors at the DFC and bring even more value to our members.

So what else has been going on beyond our lease and refrigeration milestones? 

• In September we hosted a “Meet The GM” gathering at the store site, at which I spoke a little about my history and introduced my wife Nancy and my daughter Tula.  I also made a point of addressing how lucky the Dubuque is to have a proactive group of individuals who have volunteered, invested, and worked hard to establish a local and democratically-owned source for organic, sustainable, locally produced food (that’s you I’m talking about).  Plus, there was cake.

• We announced that we are looking to open the store in early spring, which is a great time to open a store, both logistically and symbolically.  The changes in the design and the upcoming holidays affected what had to be done and the refrigeration delivery timeline, so we’ve worked with our contractors and our suppliers to define the scope of work needed to open the store, and early spring is realistic.  We intend to have a more specific date in the coming weeks, but cannot do so until construction has started and we’ve accounted for any further delays, and we want a date that we can plan around!

• After the aforementioned meeting, we stuck around and handed out maps for the Driftless Farm Crawl, sending folks off to discover some of the area’s best local producers.  The Crawl was followed that evening by a Farm to Table Dinner, with proceeds going to the Dubuque Rescue Mission Greenhouse Project.  Thanks to Brittany Bethel, Regional Foods Coordinator for Dubuque County ISU Extension, and everyone else involved.

• We’ve been working on an updated website and look forward to launching it very soon.  Now that we’re further along in our build-out we’ll start posting updates regarding vendor and staffing information, and we’ll also have an area specifically for news, particularly regarding the stages of our build-out process.  Plus, we’ve been putting together a more user-friendly Member Application process.

• Karla Braig, our Board Secretary, and I recently had the pleasure to explore some of the building materials that Gronen Properties have been salvaging from their work in the Millwork District.  Our hope is to utilize some of these reclaimed materials for equipment and décor use in the store, which will help us to share the abundant history of the Millwork District as well as supporting our commitment toward sustainability.

• We’re up to 1323 members as of this writing!

Board of Directors (changes and elections)

Board member Tom Goodman has resigned from the Dubuque Food Co-op Board of Directors, and I’d like to personally thank Tom for his ongoing years of work and commitment to our success.  We’re closer than ever… thank you Tom!!

Paul Schultz has graciously agreed to step up and fill Tom’s position on the Board of Directors for the remainder of his term through 2014.  Paul recently retired from the City of Dubuque’s Public Works department, where he was the Resource Management Coordinator.  Paul is passionate about ecological, economic, and social sustainability, and his abundant experience in these fields will be a welcome addition to our Board talents.

Please keep your eyes open for our next newsletter, in which we will discuss our upcoming Board elections and provide information on how to vote.  

Next milestones

Every day we have moments of challenges and successes in this process, but we do have some bigger milestones coming up, including the launch the aforementioned website update and a new construction phase of our store build-out. 

In the meanwhile, autumn is in full swing and our collective plate is full.  Thanks so much, and I look forward to sharing more news soon!



Volunteers needed!

The 168th season of the Dubuque summer Farmers’ Market is in full swing!   Every Saturday through the end of October you’ll find 110 vendors from 7 am until 12 noon on Iowa Street  winding in and out of 12th and 13th Streets.  While at market stop by the booth for your Dubuque  Food Cooperative!  It’s located on the north side of City Hall near the Sinsinawa Mound Bakery stand.  Pick up your membership card and a FREE(!!!) DFC yard sign or purchase aprons, canvas shopping bags, and t- and tank shirts. 

We are looking for members to volunteer at our booth throughout the rest of the market season.  Please contact Suzanne Guinn about signing-up for a Saturday that’s convenient for you.   We’ll provide the information and equipment that’s needed.   It’s very easy, and so enjoyable.  Market-goers share tremendous interest and enthusiasm about the Co-op!  Help us spread the word about our wonderful community initiative by spending a Saturday morning at the Co-op booth.

To volunteer email Suzanne Guinn at suzguinn@gmail.com, call her at 563-564-6626 or stop by our market booth to see what it’s all about. 

Driftless Farm Crawl and Farm to Table Dinner

 Mark your calendars for Saturday, Sept. 21st!

Recently, the Dubuque County ISU Extension received a Sustainable Dubuque grant to help host the region’s first ever “Driftless Farm Crawl” (think bar crawl – but with farms!).  This fall, several selected farms in the tri-state area will open their doors to any families and residents interested in learning more about where and how their food is produced.

This event will take place on Saturday, September 21st from 1:00pm until 5:00pm at farms in Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin.  Families and residents will have access to maps which they can print out and use to map their route from farm to farm.  Each site with have tours and demonstrations throughout the day.

We are hoping to expose hundreds of participants to a variety of farm operations, including: orchards, vineyards/wine making, pasture-raised beef, dairy, diverse vegetable production, hogs, commercial vegetable production, poultry, flowers, and so on…. It’s a great excuse for families to spend a day outside on variety of local farms!

Following the Farm Crawl, a ticketed Farm to Table dinner will take place at 6:00pm.  This four-course dinner will be prepared by local restaurants and chefs, including One Eleven Main and L.May Eatery a nd will feature locally-produced items in each dish.  Benefits of the dinner will go to assisting the Dubuque Rescue Mission with their greenhouse gardening project, which provides meaningful work to residents and fresh vegetables to their meal program.

Volunteer and sponsorship opportunities are available.  For more information please contact Regional Foods Coordinator Brittany Bethel at 563-583-6596 or bbethel@iastate.edu, or visit  http://driftlessfarmcrawl.blogspot.com.


August update from the General Manager

Hi.  My name is Patrick.  I’m the lucky guy who was recently chosen to be the General Manager of the Dubuque Food Co-op.  In the last newsletter the DFC Board of Directors announced my welcome and I said a quick hello.  In this newsletter I’d like to more thoroughly introduce myself and talk about our progress.

As stated in the previous newsletter, I’ve been working in the natural foods industry since 1989 and for the last 8 years I’ve been the Purchasing Manager at New Pioneer Co-op in Iowa City.  I’m also a musician, I’ve run a recording studio and a small indie record label, and I play upright bass in an acoustic quartet called The Feralings.  I’m a big roller derby fan as well, and I’m looking forward to cheering for the Dubuque Bomb Squad as they become my new hometown team.  I’m currently working from home in Iowa City and commuting to Dubuque as needed, but my wife Nancy is originally from Dubuque and we’ll be moving to the area in the near future with our daughter Tula and our two absurd cats Bug and Zedrick.

The main reason that I was drawn to the Dubuque Food Co-op was the opportunity to be a part of something so important.  In the last DFC newsletter the Board of Directors referenced “turning the Dubuque Food Co-op into a cornerstone of the Dubuque community”, and that really resonates with me. 

So where are we now?  At the end of June the Board of Directors announced the achievement of two major milestones: reaching our fundraising goals and hiring me, and our next major milestones will be to sign our lease and to order our refrigeration equipment.  It’s my job to do one last check and be absolutely sure that we’ve planned and counted and measured and planned again before we hit the shiny red button, and my intention is to spend the rest of August playing catch-up so that we can move forward with the equipment order at the start of September.  In the meanwhile, we already have a stunning location, supportive business partners, an energized member base, great volunteers, and a dedicated Board of Directors.  I’m looking forward to creating new and lasting relationships with our future vendors, and to seeing the amount of talent that’s just waiting to be a part of our Co-op staff.

I must note that we all want the store open as soon as possible.  And friends, we have some serious momentum.  So my thanks to everyone, and please know that I’m looking forward to meeting you as we continue our adventure together!