store stuff

More Parking Coming Soon

New Parking Lot and Solar ArrayBriarPatch has been in need of more parking for a while now, and soon, work will begin on not only adding more spots but also a solar array and beautiful landscaping.

Construction on the new lot will happen this summer, with plans to have 45 new parking spaces available in October. The solar array will be 16,000 square-feet and will span most of the west parking lot, as well as creating a shaded walkway for shoppers. Plus, there will be electric car charging stations underneath it.

The beautiful landscaping has been designed by landscape architect Jo McProud. Along with existing trees, new trees and other plants will be incorporated, plus there will be a shade structure and picnic area as well as an activity area for even more places for our community to enjoy while visiting the Patch.

There will be a Solar Parking Forum on Tuesday, April 19, from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. in the BriarPatch Community Room for anyone who is interested in learning more about the project. Feel free to stop by and study the site plan rendering that’s on display at the front of the store, as well as checking out the smaller version on this blog. More information on the project will be available in the April/May copy of The Vine newsletter.

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store stuff

Welcome Home

Sunrise over the BriarPatch Co-op Building

BriarPatch purchases store building on Sierra College Drive

On the cusp of its 40th year, BriarPatch Co-op Community Market is celebrating the occasion with a hallmark of 40’s adulthood — homeownership.

On December 31, the cooperatively-owned grocery store closed escrow and purchased the property it occupies at 290 Sierra College Drive in Grass Valley.

The Sierra College Drive location has been BriarPatch’s “home” since 2007, when it began leasing the property from Calloway LLC. BriarPatch and Calloway worked together to construct the store, a move that has been extremely successful for the Co-op. Since the relocation from Joerschke Drive to the new building — with three times the space — BriarPatch’s sales have increased from $6 million in 2006 to $29 million in 2015.

“Partnering with Calloway in building this beautiful store set the stage for our fantastic growth,” said Chris Maher, BriarPatch’s General Manager.

With renewal of the 10-year lease on the horizon and BriarPatch considering remodeling and expanding parking, it became clear that owning the property made sense. With historically low interest rates expected to rise soon, in November of 2015 BriarPatch made a purchase offer, and an agreement was soon reached for purchasing the building.

Greg Francis, Managing Member of Calloway, said, “Calloway Development and the Litton Family are the majority land-owners in the area, and we would not have relinquished control of the BriarPatch building if we did not think that it was in the best interest of all the surrounding owners and tenants. BriarPatch has proven itself to be an extraordinarily well-managed, community-minded business. We are excited at see what’s next for the Co-op, and we are certain that it will continue to add value, not only to its immediate neighbors but to the community as a whole.”

“Owning the property puts BriarPatch in a stronger, more stable financial position for the long run,” said Maher. “Ownership helps justify the investments we’re considering for expanding the store and parking lot,” he said. “As a cooperative business with over 12,000 owner households, ownership of our store is particularly meaningful — and a fantastic way to celebrate our 40th anniversary.”

“This is a huge milestone in our 40-year history,” said Alan Weisberg, BriarPatch Board President. “As owners, we can do a much better job of shaping our future,” he said. Weisberg was first elected to the Board in 2005, when the store was located on Joerschke Drive.

Weisberg and the other eight Board Directors voted unanimously to authorize the purchase.

Mark Fenton, BriarPatch’s Board Treasurer, noted the financial advantages of owning property as opposed to leasing it.

“We can plan for the future knowing what our expenses will be, without worrying about future rent increases. All our planning and resources can go into creating value for owners,” he said.

Board Director Lew Sitzer attributed BriarPatch’s success to the work of many.

“It’s a tribute to Co-op owners and staff that we can now purchase our own store,” he said.

Sitzer saw the move as indicative of changes in the organic and local foods movements.

“This will stand as a statement of past commitment and future involvement to bring quality organic foods to market and to support local farmers in their important work, both in our community and schools,” he said.

Serving the needs of the community was also noted by Alana Lucia, who was elected to the BriarPatch Board in 2013.

“When we did our survey, there were a great many people who wanted to remain in the Sierra College Drive store. They liked the proximity of the schools, offices, and neighborhoods and felt that we were in a prime location for serving healthy foods conveniently. By purchasing the property, we are able to make a long term commitment to serving the needs of the community. We are home.”

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food films

Elevate Tahoe

elevate tahoe posterFriday, February 20, 7:00 p.m. in the BriarPatch Co-op Community Room.

Life looks a little different at 6,000 feet, and food presents a particular challenge in Truckee, Tahoe, and the Sierra. Residents up against quite a lot, considering the harsh climate, cost of living, lack of access and food security, and tourist-based economy. But these mountainous challenges inspire them to get creative, innovative even, in developing unique, functional solutions.

Interested in learning more about how our neighbors up the hill are creating a sustainable food system? Representatives from Elevate Tahoe will give an introduction to the film as well as conducting a question and answer session after the screening. Make sure to come early, as seating in the Community Room is limited.

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store stuff

The Garden Guru

kristenGardening in the foothills can be challenging. How do you grow veggies in the red dirt? What grows best in the shade of pines? How should I amend the soil, and what should my timing be for planting?

Kristen, who used to be the head of BriarPatch’s garden and floral sections, will be offering her wealth of knowledge on Tuesdays through the month of October. Find her on the Patch Patio from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.

Not only did Kristen contribute much to the Co-op’s garden department, she’s a Master Gardener in her own right. She has six years of experience teaching gardening classes. For 30 years, Kristen has been growing her own food gardens as well as helping clients maintain their own gardens. 15 of those years have been in Nevada County, so she understands the specific challenges of gardening in our foothills quite well.

Make sure to take advantage of the insight our Garden Guru can give. It should be a handful of Tuesdays worth looking forward to.

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store stuff

Co-op Cooking Classes Explore New Treats for the Lunch Box

Kayla in the Co-op Cooking SchoolWith the beginning of school just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to enliven young minds with a cooking class or two, and maybe even get some new ideas for those brown bag lunches.

Kayla Wexelberg teaches “Superfood Lunchbox Treats” on Friday, August 15, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Children over eight years old are welcome to attend, with or without an adult. This vegan and gluten-free class will focus on a variety of snack-able items including granola bars and kale chips.

How about something spicy in the lunch thermos? Janet Asher goes through the steps of making “New Mexico Green Chile Stew” on Friday, August 22, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. If you’ve never tasted dishes made with New Mexico’s famous green chile, you are in for a treat! For the second year in a row, BriarPatch will be roasting Hatch green chiles, some spicy and some mild, on August 27 through 31. Whichever you choose, you can learn to make a traditional Green Chile Stew from an authentic former New Mexican, Janet Asher. Included are recipes for Green Chile Enchiladas and a side dish of Calabacitas so that you’re prepared for the Patch’s roasting event.

Jen Myzel will be teaching a kid’s class on Saturday, August 23, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. “Gluten and Dairy-free Mac ‘n’ Cheese” will explore the most delicious gluten and dairy-free macaroni and cheese. The amazing “cheese” sauce contains coconut milk, yams, and secret ingredients. Kids will love it … and eat it! Children under eight, please bring an adult.
“Quick And Easy Tamales” are a lunchbox favorite. Teresita, of Teresita’s Haute Tamales fame, will show you the “Way of the Tamale” on Tuesday, August 26, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. They’ll mix masa, prepare fillings and sauces, and steam the ancient delicacies wrapped in corn husks. The class will feature local, fresh, organic produce in a savory vegetarian tamale, a classic sweet corn tamale, fresh pico de gallo, and a green chili tomatillo sauce. ¡Muy sabroso!

What meal isn’t better with a sweet finish? Kim Jones will teach how to make four great classic desserts that everyone in the family will enjoy, whether they’re gluten intolerant or not. On Thursday, August 28, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., Delicious Chocolate Italian Torte with Berry Sauce, Stone Fruit Crumble, Chocolate Dipped Heart Macaroons, and Tropical Fruit Salad with Lime Sorbet and Vanilla-Chili Syrup will be demonstrated – and consumed. How could anyone resist?

Many more classes and descriptions are listed at http://www.briarpatch.coop. Classes are held at the BriarPatch Co-op Community Cooking School, 648 Zion Street in Nevada City. The fee for most classes, which includes a share of what’s being cooked, is just $30 for BriarPatch owners and $35 for the general public. The Patch is also offering a summer special – sign up yourself and a friend and only pay $25 each. For more information or to pre-register, call BriarPatch at 272-5333×134, email classes@briarpatch.coop, or sign-up and pay for the class online.

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News

Run for the Board

Run for the BoardInterested in the future of BriarPatch? There will be at least three open seats up for competition during the spring 2014 election.

BriarPatch’s Board of Directors is hoping for a strong pool of applicants for this election, owners that are dedicated to the cooperative principles and want to help the Patch become better and better.

Wondering how the process works? The next Board meeting will be held on January 28, 2014 from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. in the BriarPatch Community Room.

Board candidate packets are available at customer service or on the store’s website.

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FAQ BriarPatch Co-op Next Steps

CRabb-paradeAs many of you know, BriarPatch has been looking at options for our future. Should we expand, get a second store, move? Here are the Board of Directors’ answers to our most frequently asked questions:

1. Why are you looking into growth?
We’ve been fantastically successful in our current location and we need to deal with some of the issues that our success has brought us.
We need to address issues like parking, more shelf space, and a bigger deli and make sure that people’s shopping experience is as good as it can be.
We also believe that our business model, returning “profits” to our owners and our community, is a good one that merits expansion when the demand exists.

2. Is BriarPatch going to move?
We’re looking at all options right now. We’ve nearly outgrown the current building, but that doesn’t mean we have to move. The three alternatives we’re considering are: (a) remodeling the current building, (b) opening a small, satellite store; or (c) relocating (or some combination of these three.)

3. When are you going to tell us what the decision is? How can I provide input?
We take our owners’ views very seriously and will continue to keep owners informed as we proceed. We’ve already shared information in the bi-monthly Vine newsletter, and we intend to continue to use this publication as our main communication outlet, which is also posted on our website. We also plan to hold smaller meetings and a community forum to get owners’ input as we reach key decision points.

4. How can we afford this? How much is it going to cost?
Whatever we decide to do, we will maintain the profitability of BriarPatch operations. Our management and our Board of Directors are dedicated to a thorough, well-informed decision-making process. Any decision we make will be supported by solid financial analysis.
Each of the options we’re considering will differ greatly in scale and cost. The Board of Directors and management will be very careful not to overextend BriarPatch financially. Fortunately, we have financial experts available to help provide and analyze financial information in order to make an informed decision.

5. Who’s in charge of this process?
Chris Maher, our General Manager, is leading our Development Team. The Development Team meets frequently and is working with the Board of Directors, senior Co-op management, and a team of experts to find the best way to move forward. The Development Team will make one or more recommendations to the Board of Directors and the Board will make the final decision about how we move forward.

6. Will the store have to be closed during improvements?
We don’t expect to close the store for any length of time during any future renovations or expansion. Whatever option is finally chosen, we’ll be making sure that there is minimal disruption for our customers. We don’t anticipate any sort of significant construction for at least two years.

7. How are you considering the environmental impact of expansion or relocation?
One of BriarPatch’s goals is to “contribute to environmental stewardship through our business practices,” so considering all the environmental implications of our next steps is extremely important to us. Environmental impact will be an important factor in coming to a decision about growth.

8. How will you decide which option to choose?
The Development Team, headed by the General Manager, will make preliminary recommendations to the Board. These recommendations will also be presented to owners for input. The Development Team will consider all input, develop a second round of recommendations and present these to the Board and owners again.

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