In our quest for grant monies to open the Ambler Food Co-op the Board of Directors asked for letters of support from State, County and Borough agencies as well as a few local businesses. One letter really touched our hearts and we thought we should share it on our website:
My name is Benjamin Bergman and my company, Greener Pastures, manager of the Ambler Farmers’ Market. This weekly market is now in its third year of operation and we couldn’t be happier with the positive response from the local Ambler community to the influx of local, sustainable agriculture that the farmers’ market brings. As the Director of a company whose main focus is to
bring local food to deserving communities, I have identified Ambler as a perfect area for my stable of producers to increase their output and the potential Ambler Co-op as the ideal outlet for this increased agricultural bounty!
As an organizer of farmers’ markets, I have the ear of many Pennsylvania producers. When presented with the idea of an Ambler Co-op and the idea of increased production, their response was what I expected - whether it be produce farmer or cheese monger or pastured meat raiser, all were excited about the opportunity to bring more of their goods to a brick and mortar establishment in Ambler. When considering the Co-op’s first year projected sales of locally sourced ingredients, there could be as much as $250,000 dollars available for my stable of producers and a few of them were very specific about what that potential market could do for their respective firms.
Donna Rineer of Claybrick Farms (Pequa, PA), a weekly contributor to the market, is adamant in her desire to increase the capacity of her farm but currently doesn’t have the outlets for increased production. She relayed to me: “We would love to supply meats to them [the Ambler Co-op]. We can easily raise way more meats than we currently do. We currently raise just enough for the farmers’ markets that we sell in. A consistent weekly order would help us feel secure enough to stock more feeder calves on the grass!”
Daryl Rineer (son of Donna) of Rineer Family Farms (Pequa, PA) feels like he would have the ability to take on another employee as a result of the potential increased production. Rineer Family Farms grows all manner of produce and also is a purveyor of pastured meats. What makes Daryl’s potential addition particularly notable is that when Rineer Family Farms adds employees, their hiring pool is made up of up-and-coming farmers from their local FFA club. An opportunity for Daryl not only can help him, but help a future farmer reach his dreams. All of this AND increased access to locally produced agriculture for Ambler. A win-win-win for all.
Liz Stoudt of the Wonderful Good Market (Adamstown, PA) is a cheese producer. She works closely with dairy farms in Lancaster and Berks County. She intimated to me: “If we had an increase in production that a $10,000 account a year would give us, I could increase production days and I would be able to offer a full-time position to my assistant cheesemaker along with purchasing milk another day from my local farmer. In turn, this would give them more incentive to plant more of their own grain that they use to feed their animals.” I can’t add anything to this testimony!
For the sake of brevity, I have included only three anecdotes of the dozens of producers I have access to, but rest assured there are many more who would reap the benefits of a Co-op coming to Ambler. If writing this letter to relay these stories helps in some small way towards bringing a Co-op to Ambler, I can be proud to have helped in the facilitation of a thriving local food hub in this more than deserving community.