Building community comes naturally to Fiddleheads. Our co-op exists because people who wanted to make Southeastern Connecticut healthier, more resilient, and more sustainable came together to make their vision a reality. We started with a handful of people meeting in living rooms and expanded to a few hundred owners by the time we opened. Now, almost nine years later, we’re over 2,600 strong. Our friends, families and neighbors are deeply invested in Fiddleheads, and we, in turn, are deeply invested in our community.
Community is embedded in the notion of cooperatives. Co-ops all around the world operate according to seven cooperative principles. The seventh principle is Concern For Community. Focusing on the needs of members co-ops create programs that strengthen surrounding neighborhoods. At Fiddleheads, we take this principle to heart and it plays a large part in our daily operations. We’re continually expanding and refining the ways we serve not only the people who’ve invested in us, but also the people, organizations, and businesses whose well-being is entwined with ours.
One way we do this is by donating to and working closely with community organizations. For example, so far this year we’ve donated over seven hundred pounds of food to the Gemma Moran Food Center and have partnered with F.R.E.S.H. New London (Food: Resources, Education, Security, Health) on a number of events; helping them to increase access to healthy, local food. We served as a satellite location for their Spring Plant sale, sold assorted pepper plants and Aji Dolce peppers in our Produce department, contributed a gift basket for a summer fundraiser at the Seehund, and donated cheeses to the Farm to Pier dinner benefitting F.R.E.S.H.
In an effort to promote sustainability and community enrichment, we created the Neighborly Nickel program. Each time you reuse one of your shopping bags at Fiddleheads, we give you a wooden token that directs a five cent donation to one of three featured organizations. We’re excited to announce that our patrons have chosen F.R.E.S.H. New London, Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, and V.E.T.S. (Veterans Equine Therapeutic Services) as our Neighborly Nickel recipients from October until year end. We look for organizations that share our goals of benefiting the welfare of our community by bolstering health, human and animal rights, and environmental sustainability. If you know of an organization that would benefit from Neighborly Nickel contributions in the future, please ask a staff member for an application.
We’re thrilled to support New London High School students by selling their Rosemary Garlic Focaccia Bread and pizza dough. NLHS culinary students source their ingredients, make their bread and pizza dough, and price their products. It’s a great learning experience for them and a great eating experience for the rest of us. You can find their focaccia bread in the bakery case and their pizza dough in the frozen foods aisle.
The Co-op strives to create educational opportunities for all. This past summer we encouraged dozens of children to try a rainbow of vegetables with our Veggie Passport program; providing produce at a promotional price to participating families and creating fun, veggie-related activities for the kids. We’ve also hosted drop-in workshops such as making your own botanical bug sprays, and look forward to hosting an informal talk with Herb Pharm on Immunity Boosting and Stress Relief on Wednesday October 19th.
Fiddleheads participates in New London celebrations and events. You might have spotted us this past March in New London’s Saint Patrick’s Day Parade. We were the scrappy bunch with “kale feathers” in our hats, kids in wagons, and a jolly fellow pushing a wheelbarrow full of compost! We sampled grilled pesto crostini for the Spring Food Stroll, gave away bottled water and cupcakes during Sailfest, and tabled weekly at Field of Greens Farmers’ Market. Next up, the Fall Food Stroll! This Wednesday, October 12 from 5:30-8:30 p.m., we’ll be offering Mulligatawny Soup, and hosting a beer tasting inside the store. We always offer a vegan, gluten-free option to appeal to the needs of many. The semi-annual Food Strolls are fundraisers for New London Main Street and bring hundreds of enthusiastic people to the many small businesses and restaurants in downtown New London. You can purchase a ticket in person at the Garde Arts Theater from 10:00-5:00 or online at www.newlondonmainstreet.org.
We try to reach out by offering food and festivities for anyone interested. For Earth Day, we held a community cookout with live music and affordable, eco-friendly grilled sandwiches. More recently, we held an ice cream social, where everyone could mingle and enjoy Farmer’s Cow ice cream with eclectic toppings. And that’s not all; we have more community events coming up later this year. For Oktoberfest, we’re offering weekly beer tastings, dubbed Thirsty Thursdays, from 4:00-7:00 p.m. culminating in a bar crawl on October 27th. For Election Day (November 8th), we’re offering free coffee or tea to anyone wearing an “I Voted” sticker. Democracy is worth celebrating! Whether you’re voting for your state and national elected officials this fall or for the Co-op’s Board of Directors this spring, your vote and your voice are important. On November 11th, we’ll be giving away slices of apple pie for our “American as Apple Pie” Veterans Day celebration honoring those who have served.
We’re proud of what we do for our community and want to do more. Fiddleheads was formed because our founders knew that if we pooled our resources in a grassroots effort, we could make Southeastern Connecticut a better place to live. That same desire still motivates us today.
Because building community is what co-ops do.
If you’re looking to participate with the co-op via events, donations or otherwise, contact Rae Hutchins via email email@example.com.