Volunteer Spotlight: Adam Schwartz

Owners are the true heart of the Fredericksburg Food Co-op. Our Volunteer Spotlight feature will tell you more about Owners who generously volunteer their time and talents to support the Co-op on its path toward opening a community-owned cooperative grocery store focused on healthy local products, best environmental practices, and building an inclusive community.  Interested in volunteering?  Contact us now!

How did you hear about the Fredericksburg Food Co-op and why did you become an owner?

I first learned about the Co-op while I was living in Fairfax.  Rich Larochelle asked me to join and come down to speak to a small group of early potential owners.  Rich and I had worked together for many years for electric cooperatives.  As it turned out the meeting was on the same block where I now live on Wolfe Street.

When I moved here almost 4 years ago it was in part to teach a course on cooperatives at the University of Mary Washington with Rich.  It was also going to be interesting to be involved in a new Co-op.  I have my own cooperative consulting business, The Cooperative Way, and I am part of a shared services co-op called Columinate.  My work is to help co-ops succeed, so to be able to be part of startup and to work with my neighbors to build a community-owned grocery store is an amazing opportunity.

What volunteer work do you do with the Co-op and what do you like most about volunteering?

I am fortunate to collaborate with some of the kindest, most hard-working, dedicated people that you can imagine.  Folks like Els & Andy, Gloria, Angie, Kathy, Gerald, Jonathan, Val, Brad, Daniel, Kathy, Margaret, Clayton & Cathy, George, Kristi, Daniel, Carla, Selma, Chris, Mike, Margaret, and so many others.  Every time I volunteer at the Saturday Farmers Market or special events like Earth Day (April 18 at Old Mill Park) and the UMW Multi-cultural Festival, I meet more great people to talk to about the cooperative difference.

We don’t get the opportunity often to control our destiny and improve our community.  That is why I volunteered to help coordinate the second owner loan campaign for the Food Co-op.  By lending our Co-op $2,000; $8,000; $20,000 or more, you help us save money we would have to borrow from other sources and you also keep your money local.  You will get a fair rate of return and it stays right here in our community.

What are you most looking forward to about the Co-op?

You want to know the great news?  Hundreds have volunteered in some capacity and there is always room for more volunteers.  I am a huge believer that people want to do the right thing — they want to eat healthier, they want use less plastic, they want to connect and help their neighbors.  I also believe that we have to make it easier for people to do the right thing.

When we open our doors later this year, our Food Co-op will do just that.  People from all over this community will be able to shop their values.  Will we be perfect?  Of course not, we are human.  Will we be better than any other grocery store with our commitment and our actions to live our values of sustainable, local products while building community?  Yes, absolutely!

What advice do you have for someone considering becoming a Co-op owner?

It is well documented that one of the ways to have a healthier, longer life is to be in meaningful relationships with others.*  Yes we are building a grocery store, but just as importantly we are building community.  Ninety percent of the people I know in Fredericksburg are a direct result of my involvement with the Fredericksburg Food Co-op.

If you want to live a longer healthier life, come join us as an owner and investor.  Everyone can be an owner for a $200 ownership investment, payable in monthly installments of $10 or $20 if that suits your budget better.

 *For example, see the book Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community.

Published March 1, 2020