The Co-op Looks Forward: The Next 5 Years

By Steve Cooke, General Manager

Just after we opened in 2011, the board of directors and a few members of the management team, including myself, spent a weekend creating a document which defines how and why the world will be different because the co-op exists. There was a very lively debate, and lots of visionary ideas were offered up, debated, tossed around and defended. Post it notes with words like sustainable, local, organic, healthy,  fair trade,  friendly, connected, regenerative, and grass-fed were stuck up on walls and voted upon to prioritize what was important to this community-focused group. When the weekend was over, we had a draft document that ultimately became our Ends Policy:

Friendly City Food Co-op exists so that the Shenandoah Valley has:
A vibrant, local economy;
Fair and friendly relationships;
Healthy, informed consumers and producers;
And a healthy environment.

This policy is more than a mission statement. It is the basis for all of our business planning and budgeting, and it guides all of our activities and operational decisions.

A vibrant, local economy means growing, creating, and sustaining jobs; circulating dollars within the Valley; sourcing as much as feasible from Valley producers while inter-connecting with local economies outside the Valley for products not produced or grown here.

In the coming 5 years, our co-op will continue growing and thriving within this community. Our goal is having one-third of our store purchases come from local vendors.

We are exploring a commercial kitchen space for use by our kitchen crew to create new value added products from smaller, “ugly” produce, and ultimately to train workers in diverting potential food waste by preserving and converting it into jams, jellies, sauces and pickles. This will reduce food waste in our area, give farmers more revenue from their produce and add jobs, all of which will improve our local economy.

In the coming year, the store hopes to launch Phase II of our expansion project which will include more space for produce, deli, grocery, and beer/wine. There will be improved classroom and meeting room spaces available for employees, owners and the public to use. The goal for completion of this renovation/expansion is the end of 2018, or 2019.

Fair and friendly relationships are the foundation upon which we build all of the other programs, and relationships within the community. “Fair and friendly relationships” are considered in a 360° manner to include: member-owners, board directors, team members, team leaders, vendors, producers, distributors, suppliers, delivery people, neighbors, business partners, business community, domestic and wild creatures. “Fair” means considerate, compassionate, equitable, and based on creating “win-win” outcomes for all involved either directly or indirectly. “Friendly” is in our name and carries special significance for this reason. Customer service can be a subjective thing as different people have different expectations of what great service entails. Our job is to discern how each individual would like to be treated and provide that type of service.

Friendly, attentive service will continue to be our standard and we will steadily raise the bar as our community learns that businesses can be engaged, conscientious and nice through our example. We will engage our community to learn how we can best serve its needs through surveys, focus groups, listening sessions and just talking to our customers.

We will introduce new Fair Trade products as available. Fair Trade is a great example of being transparent and fair with producers. Wholesale costs are slightly more than in free trade situations, so that the producers can afford access to education and health care in their communities around the globe. Purchasing from other cooperatives helps us to fulfill the Sixth cooperative principle, cooperation among co-ops, and keeps us connected to the cooperative community. As a nice bonus, many international fair trade products also come from cooperatives.

Healthy, informed consumers and producers guides our entire operation, especially in marketing and outreach efforts. Healthy consumers achieve that condition best when they have sufficient, valid resources and data on which to make good decisions regarding their physical and mental status. We believe that we should not be the judge of what is good or healthy for anyone, but rather provide objective information so they can make decisions for themselves. Additionally, we offer positive information on ways that citizens can improve their lifestyle or health condition, without attacking those who benefit from promoting unhealthy ingredients, synthetic chemicals, or highly processed foods.

We create and strengthen relationships between producers and consumers by offering our vendors time in the co-op providing samples and talking directly with our customers. This allows info to flow in all directions, so producers know what consumers want, as well as what the consumer may not want in their food or other consumer goods. Consumers should also know how their food is produced, and what the working conditions are like for the producers and their workers.

Because our producers can’t be here all the time, staff training is our best link between consumers and producers. By taking our team to visit farms, and artisanal food production sites, or bringing producers here to provide training, our team becomes more effective at conveying the high standards of quality and benefits to our local economy.

The expanded store will include a larger classroom with kitchen which means more cooking classes to empower our community to cook with local/healthy ingredients. We will continue our school visits, student and adult tours of the co-op; expand our farm tour programs, and promotion of our partnerships with local farms providing CSA (community-supported agriculture) shares.

A healthy environment has cleaner air, water and soil. Wildlife is given equal consideration to human life. Conservation of natural resources and utilizing renewable energy are higher priorities than exploiting the earth.

Promotion and support of local, organic, and sustainable agriculture will increase the availability of local, sustainable fruits and vegetables within the Valley. Re-focusing our attention on reducing food waste and promoting bulk foods, which minimizes wasteful packaging will shrink our impact on the world.

One interesting parallel is that our Ends Policy closely aligns with Triple Bottom Line business theory, in which organizations serving the public operate with more than just the traditional financial bottom line. They also monitor and measure progress towards social and environmental bottom lines.

Join us as we go boldly into the future, with our common values held high, and confident in our wisdom that our community cares about each other, our planet, and creating a sustainable future for all of us together.

Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Quesadillas (Vegan)

Makes 4 Quesadillas
These seasonal quesadillas combine creamy butternut squash with savory caramelized onions to create a unique and flavorful dish. Butternut squash is a wonderful fall vegetable and has a mild sweet and nutty taste. Although butternut squash might look intimidating to work with, preparing it requires only a few simple steps. To prep the butternut squash, I sliced off the top and bottom and peeled the skin off with a vegetable peeler. I then cut the squash in half lengthwise, scooped the seeds out, and cubed the squash into small pieces. Using this method makes prepping butternut squash a breeze! Since no quesadilla is complete without cheese, I added Daiya cheddar style shreds. These cheddar shreds are the perfect cheese substitute if you are vegan or have a dairy allergy. They taste extremely similar to real cheddar and give the quesadillas rich, cheesy flavor.



8 Small Flour Tortillas
2 cups Butternut squash, diced
1 medium Onion, diced
1 cup Daiya Cheddar Style Shreds
Coconut Oil
Vegan Butter



  1. In a medium pan, sauté onion in a bit of coconut oil over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add one tablespoon of water to the onion and continue to cook. When water evaporates add another tablespoon of water and continue to cook until onion becomes caramelized. Season onion with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer onion to a medium bowl. To the same pan, add ¼ cup water and butternut squash and sauté on medium heat until soft for about 8 minutes. Season butternut squash with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to the same bowl as the onion.
  2. To assemble the quesadillas, lay out 2 tortillas on a clean surface and top one tortilla with ½ cup of the butternut squash and onion mixture. Next, add ¼ cup of Daiya Shreds. Place the other tortilla on top.
  3. In a small sauté pan melt 1 tsp. of vegan butter on medium heat. Once melted, add quesadilla. Press down on the quesadilla with a spatula and cook for 3 minutes. Flip quesadilla over and cook for 2 minutes while pressing down with a spatula. Using a spatula to press the quesadilla will help the quesadilla become golden brown.



By Tiffany Wu / Guest Blogger

Tiffany is a student at JMU, majoring in dietetics. Her family owned a Chinese restaurant when she was growing up, so her passion for food and cooking began at an early age. She especially likes creating delicious and healthy plant-based recipes.



Farmer Focus Brand Chicken from Shenandoah Valley Organic (SVO)

You may have noticed that the meat case at Friendly City Food Co-op looks a little different than it did a few weeks ago. For those of you who have bought and loved Red Wheelbarrow brand chicken, this may have been a bit of a shock. However, there is no need for alarm, as the chicken you loved is not missing, it has just changed its outfit.

Now, before we get too far ahead of ourselves, it might be helpful for you to know a little more about the story of SVO:

SVO cares about their farmers, their chickens, and their employees, which makes them a much different kind of chicken company.

Now that you are more acquainted with Shenandoah Valley Organic, we would like to introduce you to its newest brand of locally-raised, free-range, Certified Humane, Organic chicken: Farmer Focus. This is the same delicious and ethically-raised chicken you are familiar with, but with a new feature that allows you to  see pictures of and learn about the EXACT farm your chicken came from! All you need is your smart phone and the FARM ID printed on each package you buy! Visit and enter FARM ID: REDB to take it for a test drive.

Pick up a package of Farmer Focus chicken tenders, boneless skinless breasts, or a whole young chicken today, and taste the difference!


Mashed Sweets and Beets (Vegan and Gluten Free)

Makes 2-3 servings
Looking for a new way to enjoy mashed potatoes? This colorful and autumn inspired dish is full of roasted sweet potatoes and red beets. It is naturally sweetened with maple syrup and flavored with cinnamon and nutmeg. Add some color to your dinner table by making this mashed sweets and beets recipe.



1 ½ lbs. sweet potatoes, washed and scrubbed
2 small red beets, washed and scrubbed
1/3 cup unsweetened soymilk
2 tbsp. maple syrup
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. nutmeg
2 tbsp. slivered almonds



  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Use a fork and pierce sweet potatoes several times. Wrap potatoes and beets separately in tinfoil and roast for 45 minutes to an hour until soft and tender.
  3. Add soymilk to a medium pot and warm over low heat. Whisk in cinnamon and nutmeg. Add roasted sweet potatoes, beets, and maple syrup and mash until smooth. Transfer to a serving bowl and top with slivered almonds. Enjoy!



By Tiffany Wu / Guest Blogger

Tiffany is a student at JMU, majoring in dietetics. Her family owned a Chinese restaurant when she was growing up, so her passion for food and cooking began at an early age. She especially likes creating delicious and healthy plant-based recipes.



Bok Choy and Shiitake Stir Fry (Vegan and Gluten Free)

Makes 2-4 servings
Bok Choy, also called Chinese cabbage, has a crunchy texture and mild flavor that pairs well with flavorful sauces. It is a versatile vegetable and can be steamed, simmered in soups, or sautéed. I added earthy shiitake mushrooms to the stir fry, which have a savory, umami flavor and meaty texture. This simple stir fry comes together in a flash and is delicious as a side dish. It can also be served as an entrée with the addition of protein packed edamame or tofu and rice.



¼ cup vegetable broth, add more broth to deglaze the pan as needed
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound bok choy, chopped
¼ pound shitake mushrooms, sliced
1 tbsp. liquid aminos
½ tbsp. rice vinegar


  1. Over medium high heat, add ¼ cup of vegetable broth and minced garlic to a large sauté pan. Sauté for 30 seconds until garlic is fragrant.
  2. Add shitake mushrooms and sauté for 3 minutes. Add 1-2 tbsp. of vegetable broth to deglaze the pan. Add in bok choy and sauté for 3 more minutes until crisp and slightly tender. Add in liquid aminos and rice vinegar and sauté for 1 minute. Transfer the stir fry into a serving bowl and enjoy!



By Tiffany Wu / Guest Blogger

Tiffany is a student at JMU, majoring in dietetics. Her family owned a Chinese restaurant when she was growing up, so her passion for food and cooking began at an early age. She especially likes creating delicious and healthy plant-based recipes.


Polenta with Summer Vegetables (Vegan and Gluten Free)

Makes 2-4 servings
This polenta with summer vegetables recipe is light yet filling and is a great way to enjoy some of summer’s most delicious vegetables while they’re still in season. Polenta is an Italian dish made from water and corn meal and provides the perfect base for the vegetables. I used a package of ready-made polenta for this recipe and baked it in the oven so it would become crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. This recipe is a great way to try polenta if you’re new to it. A little goes a long way with tomato paste, which adds richness and helps thicken the vegetable mixture. Simmering the vegetables creates a thick and hearty sauce that captures the flavors of summer.



1 tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. tomato paste
1 zucchini, diced
1 yellow squash, diced
1 eggplant, diced
2 ½ cups tomatoes, chopped
2 tsp. dried oregano
¾ cup vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to taste
1 package Ancient Harvest Polenta
Handful of fresh basil



  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Over medium heat, add olive oil, onions, and garlic to a large pot. Sauté for a few minutes until fragrant. Add in tomato paste and sauté for 2 minutes. Add in zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant, tomatoes, dried oregano, and vegetable stock. Mix well to combine all ingredients. Season the vegetables with a little salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30-40 minutes until vegetables are tender.
  3. While the vegetables are simmering, slice polenta into ½ inch rounds. Grease a baking tray and place the polenta slices on the tray in a single layer. Bake polenta rounds for 10 minutes on each side.
  4. Place baked polenta on a plate and ladle the vegetable mixture on top. Garnish with fresh basil. Serve immediately and enjoy!


By Tiffany Wu / Guest Blogger

Tiffany is a student at JMU, majoring in dietetics. Her family owned a Chinese restaurant when she was growing up, so her passion for food and cooking began at an early age. She especially likes creating delicious and healthy plant-based recipes.


LOCAL FOCUS Pale Fire Brewing Co.

Tucked comfortably away in the Ice House building across from the Harrisonburg Farmer’s Market, Pale Fire Brewing Co. has become a mainstay in the central Virginia brewery scene since opening its doors in 2015.

The brewery namesake comes from the novel “Pale Fire” by Vladimir Nabokov, which is an allusion to the work of William Shakespeare. Pale Fire strives to give its brews a creative twist by naming the majority of its products after songs, artists, literature and art.

“We want to be more than just a taproom — we want to be a community space, a place for people to gather,” Susan Keeler, Pale Fire’s tap room manager, said. “All of our stuff is rooted in weird art.”

Customers here at the Harrisonburg Friendly City Food Co-op can enjoy the citrus-hopped concoction of Pale Fire’s best-seller, the Arrant India Pale Ale, which follows the trend of IPAs with a big juicy flavor.

Other popular offerings include Deadly Rhythm Pale Ale, which boasts a lightly toasted caramel malt as its backbone, and the Salad Days American Saison which offers notes of grapefruit, peach, and bubblegum for a refreshingly tart, dry finish.

While Pale Fire takes plenty of pride in serving its local customers, it welcomes beer-lovers from all over. The brewery offers a large outdoor patio, and often offers live music — making it an appealing summertime destination.

“We see a lot of beer tourism,” Keeler said. “Beer is huge in Virginia, especially in Harrisonburg — we have four breweries. We see a lot of people coming here on weekends from Northern Virginia, Charlottesville, Richmond and kind of all over to check us out.”

The company distributes through most of Virginia and Washington D.C., and is currently in the process of planning to sell bottles, which Keeler believes will keep Pale Fire at full production capacity.

If you like Pale Fire’s products found in the Co-op, check the schedule of events on the company’s Facebook page. Compete with friends in Pale Fire’s Wednesday night trivia, or groove to some live music on Thursday nights. For book-lovers, be sure to check out their monthly “Books and Brews” event, in which Pale Fire collaborates with WMRA radio to bring in an author for a discussion.


Submitted by a student at James Madison University

Summer Squash Fritters (Vegan)

Makes 10 small fritters
These summer squash fritters are a great way to enjoy one of summer’s most popular vegetables. Zucchini and yellow squash are full of nutrients such as fiber, potassium, and vitamin C. Their mild and slightly sweet flavor makes them a versatile vegetable that can be prepared and cooked in a variety of ways. This recipe is one of my favorite ways to enjoy summer squash. The fritters come together in a flash and take only a few minutes to pan fry. I like to serve them with a creamy dill sauce made with hemp seeds and fresh dill.



2 medium zucchini, shredded
1 medium yellow squash, shredded
½ cup onion, diced
½ cup whole wheat flour
½ cup unsweetened soymilk
1 tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
Coconut oil

Creamy Dill Sauce Ingredients:

1/3 cup hemp seeds
½ cup unsweetened soymilk
¼ cup fresh dill, chopped
1 tbsp. lemon juice
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper


  1. In a large bowl, mix together whole wheat flour and soymilk. Add shredded zucchini, squash, onion, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Mix well.
  2. Over medium high heat, pan fry the fritters in ½ tbsp. of coconut oil for 2-3 minutes on each side. I used a large pan and was able to pan fry 4 fritters at a time. The edges should get golden brown and crispy. Serve with creamy dill sauce and enjoy!


By Tiffany Wu / Guest Blogger

Tiffany is a student at JMU, majoring in dietetics. Her family owned a Chinese restaurant when she was growing up, so her passion for food and cooking began at an early age. She especially likes creating delicious and healthy plant-based recipes.






Roasted Red Pepper and Eggplant Dip (Vegan and Gluten Free)

Makes 5 cups
This simple recipe combines roasted red bell peppers and eggplant to create a super creamy and delicious dip. Roasting is one of my favorite cooking methods because it’s easy and convenient. Just set a timer and let the oven do the work! Roasting also caramelizes fruits and vegetables, which brings out their natural sweetness. Cannellini beans, also called white kidney beans, contain protein and fiber and make the dip heartier. Enjoy this flavorful dip with fresh veggies, bread, or crackers.



1 large eggplant, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1 (15 ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste



  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Place chopped eggplant, bell pepper, and peeled garlic cloves on a baking sheet and toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Bake for 30-40 minutes until soft and tender.
  3. Add roasted eggplant, red pepper, garlic, beans, remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper to a food processor. Process until smooth and creamy. Transfer dip to a bowl. You can enjoy the dip warm or chill it in the fridge for a few hours.


By Tiffany Wu / Guest Blogger

Tiffany is a student at JMU, majoring in dietetics. Her family owned a Chinese restaurant when she was growing up, so her passion for food and cooking began at an early age. She especially likes creating delicious and healthy plant-based recipes.

LOCAL FOCUS White Oak Lavender Farm

White Oak Lavender Farm is just one of over 150 local vendors the co-op represents. Here is their story.

By Guest Blogger- Kaitlin Fee

The White Oak Lavender Farm is located in Harrisonburg, Virginia, and provides a variety of goods and services to the local community. While visiting the lavender farm, you are surrounded by a plethora of events and activities. The farm embodies a relaxed atmosphere that anyone can enjoy. The farm offers lavender classes such as wreath making, aroma 101, wreath and wine, and wands and wine. These classes are listed on an updated schedule featured on the website. The classes cover topics such as incorporating lavender into everyday life and providing instruction for creating crafts using lavender.


The farm was established in 2005 by the Haushalter family. Julie Haushalter enjoyed experimenting and working with lavender as a hobby, and eventually grew it into a family practice and business. The Harrisonburg community adapted very well to the opening of the farm. The community loves to discover new products on the farm as well as participate in the practices offered.


“I know and work with many people that have anxiety and I wanted to find a natural way to help them cope with it, Haushalter said. “Lavender serves as a stress reliever and is a very natural way of healing.” The farm holds over 100 products, but the most popular are the 100% essential lavender oils, lavender linen sprays and lotions and soaps. Haushalter’s favorite part of the job is meeting new people in the community.


The White Oak Lavender Farm welcomes all to come out and enjoy the essence of lavender and the atmosphere of the farm. On the farm they also have a variety of people-friendly animals that visitors can interact with. Haushalter hopes that through interaction with customers, she can emphasize her business serves to help.