The initiative to provide a food co-op to serve West Winfield and Waterville could become reality with a store in Waterville.
John Brouillette of Waterville, who is treasurer of the 4 Corners Food Co-Op and owner of the Triangle Bank Building in Waterville, will rent space to the Co-Op on the first floor of his building. Space will allow for a store and a cafe.
At a Co-Op meeting last week in the building, Board member Ben Wood of Waterville outlined a grant being submitted this month to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Wood said the group was encouraged to apply for a $225,000 implementation grant. The USDA told 4 Corners the project was further along for the planning grant initially applied for by the Co-Op.
The grant would provide funding for a director, equipment and supplies, rent and other costs.
The Co-Op would take over what had been the area where the bank tellers worked, with the old vault used for storage and setup. Initially the cafe would be in the former office near the tellers counter, with plans to move it across the hall.
Finding a space for the Co-Op has long been a problem because of the scarcity of empty affordable buildings between West Winfield and Waterville. Co-Op Board members discussed having a delivery service to a drop-off point for customers in West Winfield.
“If we have a good product it will not matter where it will be,’’ Co-chair Kari Thomson said.
Despite numerous membership drives and a Fall Harvest celebration, only about 30 households have signed on as members. Co-Chair Renee Winne said people are interested, but want to see a store before committing.
“They’re excited and say they want to support local, but need to see something first,’’ Winne said.
The Co-Op has a list of vendors and will meet with them later this spring to discuss what they can provide. For members of the Co-Op, who will receive various discounts through membership, another one will come when purchasing products from the four local counties: Oneida, Madison, Herkimer and Otsego.
In addition, under the setup of a co-op, members are also owners and can weigh in on decisions affecting the store.
People who have already signed up are invited to a Members meeting Thursday, March 31 at 7 p.m. at the Bank building. More details about the Co-Op’s opening will be discussed.