Owens Valley Growers Cooperative Dinner a Success
Good food was on the menu for during a community dinner and presentation by a local not-for-profit cooperative planning to re-open Mair’s Market in Independence. Another dinner is now scheduled for Saturday, October 18 in Lone Pine.
About 50 residents of the town gathered at the Independence Legion Hall Oct. 11 and enjoyed a dinner featuring a wide variety of locally grown produce, locally made baked goods and homemade entrees.
A similar community dinner and informational meeting is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 18, from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at Statham Hall in Lone Pine. The community meetings in Independence and Lone Pine are sponsored by the OVGC, the Independence Civic Club and the Lone Pine Chamber of Commerce.
During the evening in Independence, several members of the Owens Valley Grower’s Cooperative (OVGV) addressed the gathering and shared their plans to open a small grocery store, bakery and local foods café in the now vacant Mair’s Market building on Main Street (US 395). Four different grants have been awarded to OVGC to help get the new enterprise off the ground. The grants fund everything from building improvements to installing a certified kitchen where local residents will be able to prepare food using local ingredients.
The group asked those in attendance to fill out a survey and questionnaire that asked what kind of produce, grocery items and other goods people would like to see stocked in the new store.
If everything goes as planned, the OVGC will be opening Mair’s Market by the summer of 2015. The store will be stocked with locally grown produce, whenever possible, and feature healthy food items from California farms and ranches. The group currently leases the space. The market closed in 2006, leaving Independence and the surrounding area with no grocery store.
Julie Fought, a OVGC board member from Lone Pine, highlighted the group’s successes to the gathering. She noted that the OCGC has operated Farmer’s Markets on alternating Fridays in Independence and Lone Pine for more than a year. Those markets have allowed local growers to sell their produce and other products to local customers, she noted, which has kept those dollars in the local economy. Expanding the Farmer’s Markets into a store which would offer a larger and more diverse selection of healthy food would make shopping more convenient for local residents and also help the local economy by keeping those shopping dollars local and adding jobs, she said.
Although the store would be a community based cooperative offering memberships, it would still have be operated like any other business, and provide a good product for a good price, said OVGC Board Member Ben Holgate, of Independence. The group is also exploring other “community supported agriculture” models, such as a local beef CSA, which would allow community members to pool their money and buy local beef, for instance.
The dinner was provided by the current members of the OVGC and included entrees such as locally grown beef kabobs, two kinds of lasagna, and a vegetarian frittata. Entrees were accompanied by tomato and vegetable soup, squash with pumpkin and pomegranate seeds, celery seeds, green salad and potato salads, to name a few. Included in the salad selection were celery salad, green salad and potato salads, to name a few. Deviled eggs and cheeses were appetizing appetizers. Dessert included fresh baked brownies, rhubarb and pumpkin pies, and cherry crumble.
For more information on the Owens Valley Growers Cooperative, find them on Facebook, email [email protected] or call 510-468-7113.
Photo Caption: About 50 people gathered in the Independence Legion Hall and enjoyed a light meal featuring locally grown produce, locally made baked goods and homemade entrees. Members of the Owens Valley Growers Cooperative presented their plans to reopen Mair’s Market in Independence. Photo by Tamara Cohn.