Know Your Grower

Annual Meeting and Community Partner Awards

Thanks to everyone who made it to the Annual Meeting this year! We held it at the Boise Depot and had over 120 people in attendance. Delicious food, great local wine and beer, and awesome conversations made this our best Annual Meeting yet!

This year, we honored some of our local vendors and community partners with awards to recognize some special achievements. In case you missed it, here is the recap:

  • Vendor of the Year: Dawson Taylor Coffee Roasters

    • Dawson Taylor has been an awesome partner for us since the business got rolling 14 years ago. They are always willing to donate coffee for our events, hang out with us while we serve breakfast to bike-powered commuters, and even lend us their awesome bike trailer so we can get our burritos to Hyde Park in a greener way.

  • Outstanding Co-op Partner: Idaho Foodbank

    • We partner with Idaho Foodbank throughout the year to help combat Idaho’s serious food insecurity problem. Their operations are so efficient that turn every dollar donated into 5 meals for hungry Idahoans.

  • Innovation Award: Downtown Teaching Farm

    • This Boise High School urban farm takes close to 600 lbs of our food scraps every week and turns it into rich compost for their garden and orchard. They’ve helped us keep 15 tons of organic matter out of the landfill in the last year.

  • Star Vendor: Wildflour Bakery

    • Wildflour not only makes dangerously delicious cookies, they also have the highest sales of any of our local vendors. Not bad for starting out baking in a garage 25 years ago.

    We also wanted to recognize our local vendors who are scaling up their businesses as our sales continue to grow. We love when our customers choose local, because it truly has an impact on these awesome businesses!

  • Outstanding Small Vendor Growth: Better Man Beard

    • Largest year over year sales increase in our small vendor category. If you’ve noticed an uptick in shiny, good-looking beards around the valley, this is why.

  • Outstanding Medium Vendor Growth: Bucksnort Soda Company

    • Largest year over year sales increase in our medium vendor category. Have you tried making a root beer float with their root beer? No wonder these tasty sodas are growing in popularity!

  • Outstanding Large Vendor Growth: Acme Bakeshop

    • Largest year over year sales increase in our large vendor category. These bakers wake up at 2 am to bake us some of the tastiest bread in the state, made from wheat grown on the Idaho Palouse.

For more info on our local sales, community impact, and year-in-review, check out our Annual Report below!

Fresh Wild-Caught Alaskan Salmon from Cynthia & George

Cynthia & George of C&G's Wild Alaska Salmon have been selling their wild-caught salmon here in Boise for over 15 years now, and we're sure happy to have such dedicated people bringing us fresh Alaskan salmon. Since its summer right now, Cynthia & George are hard at work on their fishing boat and, come October, they'll be headed back to Boise, where they live during the winter.

They take pride in the superior quality and sustainable practices behind their product. They clean and chill the fish as soon as they bring it into the boat, and recycle and reuse whenever possible. They also donate a portion of their sales to local nonprofits like the Women’s and Children’s Alliance, Idaho Rivers United, the Idaho Conservation League and The Boise Farmers Market.

Check out these pictures Cynthia sent us along with our latest shipment! They're the same fish sitting in our cold case, and right now they're $2 off per pound!

Know Your Grower ─ Alderspring Ranch

Our local growers are out of sight ─ but certainly not out of mind. We’re pretty jazzed about what Glenn and Caryl Elzinga are up to over at Alderspring Ranch. Their certified organic grass-fed beef is just about as good as it gets, we thinks.

Recently Glenn weighed in on everything from his favorite beef-based meal to direct marketing:

How long have you partnered with the Co-op?
Wow. I think it has been around 12 years!

Which products do you grow ─ and which of those are sold at the Co-op?
Just certified organic grass-fed beef, raised on our ranch. That's it!!

How and why did you become active in your particular style of growing?
We were always interested in connecting folks with their food. However, the "tipping" point for direct marketing happened one day when we were driving across Kansas in the pouring rain. We had a bunch of little kids in the back seat, and they said "Dad! What is that SMELL?" It soon became apparent through our rain-streaked windows when we observed in our silence that there were hundreds ─ no, thousands ─ of calves and yearling-sized beef cattle in a huge feedlot, up to their bellies in the muck.

One of my girls slowly spoke up, picking her words carefully: "Dad? Are our calves in there?" I said that I didn't know for sure.  We had loaded them a few weeks ago, filling a semi for somewhere in Kansas. That was the end of us being a cow-calf operator. Our grass-fed beef experiments (this was 20 years ago) had yielded enough results that we were ready to jump off the pier into the sea of direct marketing. There was no mud there, by the way. It has been a journey — that is for sure. But it has been a right one.

What are the guiding principles of your work?
The word “wellness” or “health” really sums it all up.  It is foundationally about healthy soils, and then the plants that grow on our wild soils, and our beeves that live on that by eating, and giving back, and ultimately us, the final consumers of that health.  

What’s the impost important thing for consumers to understand about Alderspring?
We raise wild protein. We have all heard of Wild Alaskan Salmon. Our beeves live a very wild life. On Alderspring, they never live on row-crop ground. They never live in a feedlot. In the summer, they wander on 70 square miles of certified organic wildlands in the mountain country near the high Pahsimeroi.

They share their habitat with nearly every wild large animal species in Idaho: elk, deer, mountain sheep, lions and wolves. They make their own food choices. Even on our home ranch, we give them big areas to graze because we believe that the beeves know best about what to eat and when. It makes our beef some of the most nutritionally dense food available on the earth because we have not determined what our beeves eat ─ they have. And they are the experts. 

Know Your Grower ─ Peaceful Belly

Drive up Bogus Basin Road, then look left, near Hidden Springs in the Dry Creek Valley. There you’ll see a small farm with big ideas — a place where the goal is “to develop a regenerative system” and to have fun doing it.

“Having a farm that’s not just organic, but alive,” said Josie Erskine, the farm’s co-owner.

Alive, indeed. Peaceful Belly animates our saliva glands with organic produce such as kale, chards, beets, peppers, arugula, tomatoes and melons. The Boise Co-op is honored to feature many of the Erskines’ exceptional foodstuffs.

Josie started the farm 13 years ago with her husband, Clay. After having trained at an organic farm in Oregon, the couple decided to apply their knowledge and passion in their home area, the Treasure Valley. They got right to work on their 60-acre plot, building the soil and water quality; supporting local bird species; boosting the insect population; and participating in “beneficial species planting.”

“We’re really trying to do conservation practices,” Josie said. For instance, they are researching ways to reduce tillage and, in turn, cut down on CO2 emissions.

It’s all part of the Erskines’ underlying motive to run a farm that mimics nature as closely as possible. They believe it can be done in a profitable way that also satisfies local folks who yearn to truly know the people from whom they buy food.

“Real peace starts with a belly full of food,” Josie said. “From there, we believe anything is possible.”

Facts on the Farm

  • The best part of Josie’s job? “The space that I get to enjoy,” from Stackrock to cloud shows and, in general, the ever-changing landscape.

  • Josie’s favorite dish that utilizes Peaceful Belly produce? Tomato sauce featuring all sorts of veggies “slowly cooked down together.”

  • What did Josie and Clay do before farming? Josie traveled around doing musical and theatre performances. Clay, a former snowboard instructor, went all over the world in search of killer mountains and water for kayaking.