Meet Our Board – Paul Griffin

Meet Board Member Paul Griffin!

Board Member Name:  Paul Griffin

Years of Board Service:  Two Years

Current Board Discussions:  The board is discussing and planning for fall 2024 board member elections. Co-op members interested in running for open board seats can expect to see an updated application package in the next few weeks.  Until then, any questions may be directed to Lindsay Martin, Chair of the Re-election Committee:

Celebrating the Season

My wife and I love every season change here in the valley. We especially enjoy spring! As cyclists, we eagerly await the warm spring weather for riding scenic back roads. One of our current favorites includes a portion of North Mountain Road providing sweeping views of the mountain ranges. During springtime, it seems as if there is something new to see on this road from day to day. A new flower, a new calf, greener pastures, and an occasional bald eagle.

Co-op item I can’t live without…

Our current cycling routes require specialized energy sources.  So, we make frequent trips to the Co-op to stock up on bananas, bars and my current Co-op favorite: Bolt Organic Energy Chews. We do not attempt climbing the hill to North Mountain Road without these energy chews!

Unique Staff Encounters

Recently, we said goodbye to former Front End Team Leader Steph Andrews as she pursues other opportunities. I’ll always remember her unique quips. One such response is meaningful to me.  Ask Steph how she’s doing, and she will likely say that she’s “pretty OK”. Her response always seems to catch me by surprise because when I’m in a check-out line, I am accustomed to receiving replies like “I’m well” or “I’m fine”.  “Pretty OK” reminds me that it’s a blessing to have an average day. Yes, I have the occasional fantastic day or the dreaded terrible day. An average day is actually a very good thing. Thank you, Steph, for the reminder – and good luck in wherever your ventures take you.

Meet Our Board – Cheri Greenfield

Meet Board Member Cheri Greenfield!

Board Member Name: Cheri Greenfield

Number of Years on Our Board: I just completed my first year as a board member.

Recent Board Discussions: I really enjoyed our recent discussion around the values that the Co-op embodies, and the desire to be a welcoming space in the community where folks can find nourishing foods and connections. 

What do you think makes our co-op special? 

Food is a powerful thing. While one of our basic human needs, it goes far beyond this. Food connects people—we share meals with others in celebration, in grief, in friendship and in love. Food nourishes us, feeds our bodies and souls. For me, it is important to know that my food is grown in a way that honors the process and the growers, reducing toxic chemical use and supporting sustainable agricultural practices that help maintain a healthy Earth and healthy humans. In this area, we have access to so much good food, and I love that the Friendly City Food Co-op helps to join consumers with local food producers. When I shop at the Co-op, I love chatting with staff members, and catching up with folks—it isn’t unusual for me to run into old friends at the Co-op. At our last board retreat, we discussed how the Co-op is in many ways a hub for connections. The Co-op holds a welcoming space within our community, and making sure everyone feels welcome and has access to nourishing food is one of the things I find most valuable and important.

What is a food memory from your childhood?

Food is a way that we share love, and early memories of food can hold a special space. That ice cream cone after a long day of work, or a special dish cooked by someone who loves us—these foods go far beyond the nutrient value to a nourishment much deeper. One of my favorite dishes from my childhood in Michigan are Cornish Pasties, small hand-pies filled with meat, potatoes, and vegetables—similar to an empanada. My dad occasionally brought them home from a local diner in Flint, and I remember them as a special and delicious treat. As an adult, I started making them for my family, and they are one of our favorite meals. They’re a bit of work, but well worth it! Recently, I made gluten and dairy free pasties, and while I include ground venison in my recipe, you could easily replace this with beans or any plant-based protein to make them vegetarian or vegan. Have fun with the fillings—you’re getting to eat pie for dinner!


Share your favorite recipe right now:


1-1/2# ground venison or beef

5-6 small red potatoes, diced

Red wine, optional

1 large or 2 small rutabaga or turnips

½-1 cup peas 

2 small onions

3-4 cloves garlic

Fresh herbs, chopped small or pureed: cilantro, dill, parsley, rosemary

Spices to taste: red pepper flakes, Herbs de Provence by Shenadoah Spice Company (I use this in everything), dried rosemary, coriander, salt, black pepper 

Olive Oil



Sauté onions in olive oil until soft and translucent, then add herbs, spices, and fresh garlic. Increase heat and add wine. Simmer for a minute or two, until the alcohol has cooked off, then lower heat to medium, add venison or beef, and brown. Add root vegetables and peas, decrease heat to low and cover. Cook until vegetables are tender. Set aside and let cool.

Prepare your own favorite pastry recipe, equivalent to a top and bottom crust—or use a prepared crust. Divide pastry dough into small balls, and then use a rolling pin to roll them out into disks about 6-7” in diameter. Fill the bottom portion with the filling, leaving an inch around the outside, fold the top over, and seal the edges—you’ll end up with a half-moon shaped pie. Repeat this with the rest of the pastry dough. Use a fork or a chopstick to prick vent holes in the top of the pies—I like to get creative here and make fun swirls and shapes. Bake the pies on a nonstick baking sheet or parchment paper for 350 for about 45 minutes, give or take depending on your oven and pastry thickness. 

Top these with your favorite gravy or sauce—I used a vegan sour cream-based sauce with fresh herbs and garlic, but my dad prefers brown gravy on his. There will be extra filling—we ate our leftovers over rice topped with a fried egg and avocado slices. Yum!

Meet Our Board – Monisha Khanna

Co-op Board Elections are here, but we wanted to give you the chance to digitally meet some of current board members as you gear up to vote for the new ones! Co-op Owners, be sure to vote in-store or online for three new board members. Board elections will run from October 2-30. Learn more here.

NAME: Monisha Khanna



    • Board elections
    • Visioning for the future of FCFC 
    • Continuing the work of equity and justice 



It is officially fall, so I would say all things pumpkin! Between the pumpkins, gourds and squash, the pumpkin treats, and pumpkin beer, I feel ready for fall!



I serve on the board as an opportunity to serve the community. Local small businesses are vital to our community and as the co-op supports these, I believe it to be very important that we support the co-op in its growth and success. The initiatives of being welcoming and making local, fresh food accessible to more members of our community will only help us all thrive.



My husband, Mario and I both enjoy cooking. When we moved to the Valley six years ago, we were looking for lamb to make a pasta dish. We became members of the co-op at the very first visit as it seemed to have all our regularly purchased items. We’ve come to love the bulk selection, meat and produce, and beer options.

Meet Our Board – Amanda Presgraves

Co-op Board Elections are fast approaching, and we wanted to give you the chance to digitally meet some of current board members. If you’re a co-op owner and you’re interested in becoming a board member you can find out more information here. Board candidate elections are due by September 25th and elections will be held from October 2-30.

NAME : Amanda Presgraves

YEARS ON BOARD: This is my first year!


    • Creating a more just and equitable grocery store for the community 
    • New board member elections (these are coming up, ask me about this!)
    • General Manager status report and monitoring 

Current Favorite Recipe?

Chilled Late-Summer Pasta Salad

        • Boil: a pack of noodles at the Co-op (I often lean on the Field Day brand, which was on sale for 99c last week – usually $1.99!)  
        • Saute: cubed tofu, marinated in olive oil, balsamic vinegar and italian seasonings
        • Chop seasonal produce: we use cherry tomatoes, basil and peppers from our garden, and get our cucumbers and corn from either the Co-op or a neighbor’s garden
        • Quick dressing: mix together a good pour of olive oil, a few splashes of vinegar (we use apple cider vinegar) and lemon juice, italian, seasonings, and dashes of salt and pepper, and a wee bit of honey.
        • Mix it all together and refrigerate for a delightful, summer-produce-abundant, cooling pasta salad

What is your dream weekend in the Shenandoah Valley?

    • A weekend camping in the National Forest – including, but not limited to – catching an overlook sunrise, returning to Chestnut Ridge coffee and an egg-toast-veggie breakfast in the cool morning air, a day-long run or mountain bike ride with my pup Mistie and husband, Andrew…followed by a refreshing river dip. Then, we gotta top it off with a camp-cooked dinner or Boboko when returning home on Sunday, for the complete experience. 


How/Why did you start shopping at the co-op?

    • When I was a student at JMU and first began living off campus, my Sunday’s were the one and only day I had off from collegiate swimming. That rest day (me-day!) was my rare opportunity to venture out into the community. I’d sleep in, do my stretching, then bike to the Co-Op and peruse the aisles for deals on a *very hungry athlete* college budget – usually, stocking up on bulk goods before cruising home to study and prep lunches and dinners for the week. I look back at that time fondly, and now understand it was the beginning of a routine part of my life to come. 


What do you think makes the co-op special or different from other grocery stores?

    • The people. Very rarely does a shopping experience feel so easy, calming and friendly. Everything from the walk or bike to the store, browsing the 99c produce bin, and without-fail bumping into a friend in the produce aisle, before chit-chatting with the most thoughtful cashiers (who always remember the little details about my life!). It’s the experience. Feeling a part of our small but intimate Harrisonburg community.

A Co-op Dozen – Ben Sandel Reflecting on 2011 – Now

Ben Sandel, our first board president, speaking to a crowd at our Grand Opening in 2011. 

Twelve years ago today I was nervous. For six years before that I’d been talking to everyone who would listen about how great it would be if Harrisonburg had its own cooperative grocery store. And now they were going to see for themselves whether it was as good as I’d been telling them it would be. I probably could’ve worried less, because we had (and still have!) Steve Cooke as our General Manager and he had shepherded the store through construction, hiring staff, and pretty much everything else that had to be done to open a new grocery store from scratch. We also had (and still have!) our extraordinary slice of the Shenandoah Valley with all the farmers, producers, bakers, cheese makers, flower growers, artisans and great people who seemed to get that we were trying to create something special.

When our doors first opened Friendly City Food Co-op was part of a wave of new cooperative activity across the US. People wanted businesses that served their needs in ways that were less extractive, kinder, and focused on the needs of the people in the community. And they wanted a really good soup, salad and hot food bar. We got all of that and more! Friendly City Food Co-op is bustling and has made a place in the longstanding cooperative history of our community, alongside Rockingham Co-op (over 100 years old!), Virginia Poultry Growers Cooperative, Shenandoah Valley Electric Co-op, and the many other co-ops and credit unions that keep control and money, in the hands of local folks.  

For me, personally, I now work with co-ops all over to help them open and grow. I also have a son who is one of the great staff people at Friendly City. Creating a new co-op is something a community can be proud of, and I am so happy Friendly City Food Co-op is here and thriving. Go co-op! 

Ben Sandel, first board president of FCFC.

A Co-op Dozen – Reflecting on 12 Years of Local Love

Steve Cooke, General Manager at our Grand Opening in 2011


A Co-op Dozen- 12 Years in the Blink of an Eye

Steve Cooke, General Manager


Friendly City opened its doors on Monday, June 6th at 4 pm, as the Radical Roots CSA was coming to set up for its first pickup of season. Within 20 minutes, the bike rack was full ! Our first full week of sales (6/1 -6/18) generated $36,734 from 2001 customers. The Official Grand Opening occurred on July 9th. The Steel Wheels performed as our headline musical act. We had 1,350 owner households and just 18 employees. 

In September of that year, nationally known Fermentation author, Sandor Katz, visited and gave our first (non- how to join the co-op class) in the middle of our sales floor to a large crowd. 


Not quite 3 years after opening, the Co-op Board approved a renovation project pending financing at the May board meeting. The planning of an owner loan campaign resulted in a year end decision to move ahead with the project. 

In December, we launched a New Year’s Resolution Boost, helping our shoppers kick start their year off on the right foot with local foods, green products, and healthier traditions. This program has continued every year since. 


Our first sales floor renovation was completed by the end of March. We added a hot bar to complement the salad/soup bar, as well as a beer and wine department after hearing the continual requests since we first opened. The new beer and wine zone took the place of the coffee bar and pastries, which moved up closer to the check stands up front. We began the sublease of half of the former Blessed Sacrament food pantry to the Teeny Tiny Spice Co. who became a hyper-local vendor, literally behind the wall of our bulk foods and spices section. Sometimes when they were grinding, you could smell spices while you were buying them in the store. During the renovation we also added a Community Room, small office, and a Produce prep room and Grocery workspace. 


The first class in our new Community Room took place in January, it was a Seed Starting Class taught by Project GROWS. 

Our Hot Food Bar debuted on Mardi Gras Day in February with a delicious Cajun Creole feast. 


We launched the Owner Rewards points based program. Every dollar spent earns 1 point. 100 points = $100 in reward. Minimum of 300 points ($3.00) to claim reward. 

This year we also kicked off our “Round Up at Register” with shoppers rounding up their purchases to support the Harrisonburg Farmers Market’s SNAP Match program, so their customers using SNAP could get twice as much produce for their dollars. We were so excited by the SNAP matching program, that we were in the first batch of retail grocery participants to take part, starting our SNAP match a year and a half later. We continue to offer SNAP matching to this day, and customers who pay with EBT receive 50% off all fresh and frozen produce as well as fruit/veggie/herb seeds and plants.


We began planning our next major expansion to finally inhabit the full footprint of our 10,000 square foot space as monthly sales started creeping over $400,000. We also upgraded our online owner application to a fillable .pdf with online payment option, bringing co-op ownership into the digital age!


The owner loan campaign for our expansion continued throughout the year, as we simultaneously sought outside financing to boost our efforts. When we opened in 2011, banks and lenders were not willing to take a chance on a start-up community-owned enterprise with no one person responsible for the debt. Start-up funding was entirely locally sourced from owners, and one angel investor, who continues to support us. 

We bought new green composting bins for our café area, rest rooms, break room, and a large one for loading dock, and started taking non-food compostables (hot bar/salad bar containers, soup/coffee cups/lids, compostable plasticware, paper towels, non-BPA register receipts) to Black Bear compost facility every two weeks. 

Our Living Wage initiative launched on January 1, 2019. 


Owner loan campaign wrapped up early in the year with over $630, 000 and another $300,000 from our angel. LISC (Local Initiatives Support Corp.) loan for $1,150,000 closed on Tuesday, May 26th.  And so, in the midst of a global pandemic, we had to decide whether to go ahead with the expansion project, or pause for a bit and see what happened. There was already talk of potential supply cost increases, and we had planned for a 9-month phased project working in closed off sections of the store while we maintained “normal” operations. Ultimately, we decides to go ahead with the project since sales would likely be off anyways due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Demolition began on June 1st. The priority in Phase I the southwest corner, just south of current restrooms. This sped up the timeline for re-inhabiting the area for operations, thus growing our sales floor which allowed us to welcome more shoppers, and get the kitchen in full production sooner. Even with restrictions on number of customers allowed in the store at one time, and mask policies in place, sales continued to grow even during the project. The new palace of a kitchen, was ready to move in before year end, and work began on the back of the store – adding a produce prep area, new walk-ins and meat cases. 

During this time we also scrambled to create an online ordering/curbside pick-up service. At first, it was just the basics, and relied heavily on what our shoppers remembered we had in the store. It got a lot of usage, even with its barebones functionality. 

2021 (Expansion completed in March 2021)

The next phases of the expansion moved quickly and work was completed around the end of March. Reinforcements came in from UNFI, our primary distributor, and the NCG, our virtual co-op chain, to help us tear down the old shelving, build new, and re-merchandise our whole store in April. All in all, the project finished under budget and on time, remarkable really considering how much the supply chains broke down and construction costs soared in the coming year for other businesses. During the entirety of our expansion project we only had to close the store for two days! Sales growth finished up over 8% for the expansion/pandemic year; very much the opposite of our predictions.  

CoGo, our online ordering platform, through which shoppers were able to see almost all of our available products, and not have to rely on memory to place orders, went live on October 1st.


We continued following the mandates for COVID protocols, and attracted new customers looking for a shelter in the “storm.” Sales grew over 25% as we were able to lift customer counts and slowly return to a new normal. The hot food bar became a popular, quick, and healthier option for downtown lunch and dinner. 

In May, we kicked off a new Recycled Jar program for our bulk foods department. Shoppers bring in their glass jars with matching lids, and we wash them in our commercial dishwasher then put them out for everyone to use for their bulk shopping. 

On June 11th from 6 – 8 p.m. “What has gone before…1850 – Present” exhibit opened (Curated by Shenandoah Valley Black Heritage Project) – showing the history of the land on which our co-op store sits. 

Café seating area opened to the public on June 1st, for first time since the expansion project completed and COVID precautions were scaled back. 

This was the year our starting wage to became $15, and the wages for all other team members were adjusted to avoid wage compression. We received the Gold level certification from the Harrisonburg/Rockingham Living Wage campaign


Added bulk non-food liquids to our bulk department to help our shoppers with other ways to reduce packaging in their lives. 

In January, our kitchen started offering a Sunday brunch with an ever expanding, and delicious menu.

Five small groups of team members have been meeting regularly developing a 3-year Strategic Plan that is “True to our Roots, feeding our soil to strengthen our systems to prepare for dreaming about what comes next!” Stay tuned for more details. 

Now we are celebrating our 12th Birthday and we couldn’t have made it to 12 years without our amazing shoppers, friendly team, and vibrant local community! Cheers to 12 years, and many more to come.

It’s New! Craft & Cork

We are pleased to share our newest seasonal publication with you– the Craft & Cork. You’ll find information about the enjoyment of beer, wine and cheese. It is produced VERY locally, right here in the store!

All the products you read about can be purchased here at the co-op. There will be a recipe that will use fresh, seasonal, and often local items. We’ll highlight a local producer in our MEET YOUR MAKER section. And, a cheeseboard will be featured in each issue that you can put together using the keyed photograph and descriptions.

The Autumn issue is just out and you can pick up a copy in the store, or read it HERE.