News & Blog

2014 Swag Survey

Post date: Wednesday, January 15, 2014 - 12:00pm


Member Friendly Bylaws

Post date: Tuesday, January 14, 2014 - 2:40pm

What You Need to Know About Membership


Are there rules governing the co-op?

The Bylaws of Urban Greens lay out the rules that govern the co-op. We encourage all members to carefully read and familiarize themselves with the Bylaws. The Bylaws are a living document, meant to reflect the needs of our cooperative. Should you have any questions or suggestions for changes, please let us know. Below is a summary of some of the key points members should know. We do not intend for this to replace your reading of the Bylaws, but instead it should be a helpful reference that can point you to specific portions of the Bylaws for further 


Membership Eligibility, Rights and Responsibilities


Who is eligible to become a member? (Section 2.1) 

Any individual, household, or organization that wants to utilize the services of the Co-op and accept the responsibilities of ownership is eligible to become a member.


How do you become a member? (Section 2.1) 

All that is required is to fill out an application and purchase a share. That’s it! The price per share differs, depending on your income. The co-op can work with you to create payment plans. Upon your first payment, you become a member.


After becoming a member, what are your rights and responsibilities as a member of Urban Greens? (Sections 2.2 & 2.3)

You have the right to buy groceries and produce from the co-op. Members also have the right to work for the co-op and possibly earn discounts on purchases. This right to work may be limited by the onset of other responsibilities, such as becoming a Council Member or an Officer.

Members have the right to elect members to the council, the leadership body of the co-op. Members have the power to amend the by-laws and call meetings to vote on any business. Members are responsible for keeping up with payments, if you are paying for your membership through a payment plan. Members are also responsible for buying from the co-op, at least occasionally. Members must notify the co-op of any changes in one’s name and/or address.


What types of meetings are members entitled to attend? (Sections 3.1 & 3.2)

The co-op holds two types of meetings: annual meetings and special meetings. The annual meeting occurs 90 days after the close of each fiscal year. At the annual meeting, we discuss general business of the co-op, including operations and finances, policy decisions, review of past and future programs and goals. Members may vote on particular issues at this meeting. Council members are elected during Special meetings may be called by the co-op council at any time. Members may also call for a special meeting. To do so, fifteen percent of the total number of members must sign a petition calling for a special meeting. The petition must state the business that the members want to bring up at the meeting. The chairperson of the council must call a meeting as soon as possible after s/he receives the petition. You should note that matters that come up during the meeting that have not been specified in the petition will not be considered binding, but will only be advisory. Decisions on matters specified in the petition will be binding.


How many votes does a member receive? (Section 3.7)

Each member has one vote no matter how many shares that member owns. All members have the right and responsibility to vote in the best interest of the co-op.


How do members make binding decisions? (Section 3.6) 

In order to have a binding vote on a matter, the co-op must meet quorum, which means that at least 50 owners must vote on a matter (mail and email ballots count towards the quorum).


How can I vote? (Sections 3.8 & 3.9)

Members have the opportunity to vote through several methods. Members may be present at the meeting or can vote by mail or email. The notice of the meeting will give instructions for voting by mail or email.


Become a Council Member or Run for Office!


What is the council? (Section 4.1)

Collectively responsible for the general welfare of the co-op, the council is made up of members elected by the general membership. The council focuses on the mission of the co-op and ensures that the co-op is on track with its goals. The council consists of 13 members. Council members serve a three-year term. 


Who is eligible to be on the council? (Section 4.2)

Any member who is over 18 years old may run for a position on the council. 


What officer positions does the co-op have? (Sections 6.1 - 6.3) 

The officer positions are chair, vice chair, treasurer and secretary. The council may designate more as needed. The council elects the officers at the annual meeting. 

Terms vary depending on the position.


Things may change in my life. Once I am a member, am I bound to the co-op forever? (Section 7.3) 

No. Members have the option to terminate their ownership and redeem their shares. 

(But, why would you choose to do that once you sign on to enjoy all the benefits of Urban Greens!)


Prepaired by the Community Economic Development Law Clinic of The Roger Williams Law School in 2013.

2013 Annual Meeting Notes

Post date: Monday, December 16, 2013 - 4:42pm


2013 Annual Meeting Notes


  • Featured guest speaker: Hope Kelley, Equal Exchange

    • A worker/owner of Equal Exchange

    • Everyone who works there also invests in it


  • What are the benefits of investing in a coop?

    • Profit sharing/dividends to investors

    • Fair price paid to farmers

    • benefits the community it works with

      • co-ops

      • supporters of fair trade

    • donates to organizations involved in positive change

    • coop made up of everyday people

      • diverse people and viewpoints

      • investment of time and money to change the world

      • generate benefits for many toward a better world

      • put one’s money where one’s mouth is

    • Worker benefits

      • job creation

      • sustainable economy

      • change occurs over a long period of time, long term, sustainable

    • co-op = good example of democracy


  • Overview of 2013: Urban Greens Project Manager: Delia Kovac

    • Revised/Refined Mission Statement:

      • Urban Greens Food Co-op is a consumer owned & governed cooperative working to open a retail grocery store in Providence, RI. The store will be open to all and will support the health and well-being of our customers by offering nutritious, affordable food that is sustainably sourced, culturally inclusive and supportive of local food production.

    • Refined Core Values:

      • Equal Access

      • Economic Sustainability

      • Cultural Relevancy & Reflection of the Community

      • Environmental Stewardship & Local Agriculture

      • Outreach & Education

      • Cooperative Principles, Cooperative Values

    • Guiding Principles

      • Infrastructure: worked to solidify it, expanding different avenues, new members via community outreach, seeking to fulfill mission before opening

      • 2013: tremendous growth (138 new members), outreach events (600 new subscribers to the mailing list)

      • Evaluation of how people become members

        • Eco-Sign--online membership access

        • email newsletters--articles/events

        • phone bank

        • social media (facebook, twitter)

    • Membership Growth: 46 members in 2006, 527 members in 2013

      • becomes exponential as more people become involved

      • milestone of 500 reached this summer

      • will keep taking members

      • local businesses donated for member drives

      • drawings worked well, planning on doing more in the future (i.e. gondola ride)

    • Community Outreach and Organizations:

      • social services

      • green businesses

      • socially conscious businesses

      • ecclesiastical services

      • Tabling: talk about UG and get members/volunteers

    • Letters of Support: government, organizations, non-profits, national co-op experts, local experts

    • Networking for Technical Assistance

      • Cooperative Development Services (CDS) consulting

      • Neighboring Food Co-ops Association (NFCA)


    • What is UG without a store?

      • working to open a store

      • Oldest part: started as a buying club 13 years ago, ordering bulk natural food at wholesale discounts, help members access this online

      • Spring Equinox Celebration

      • not just about food, but also the food economy

      • making healthy food more accessible to more people

      • Local Green - Meet and Greet: getting together to eat local food and support the local food economy (Trinity Brewhouse 11/20)

      • Cultural Cooking and Local Growing

        • workshops using locally grown items in ethnic dishes, leaders were all members

        • how to make local food last longer

      • Member House Parties

        • invite an UG speaker

        • gain members

        • looking for more people to host parties

        • or 401-267-8432


  • Financial Report: Harry, Treasurer

    • Current Member Equity Balance: $50,205

    • Fundraising (Non-Equity Balance): $5,844

    • At the start of 2013 the member equity rose by 29%


  • Membership Milestone: Philip

    • Member-owners growth of 38%

    • Milestone: 500 members

    • enabled organization to expand focus on every aspect of making a concrete site possible

    • working with a consultant for full financial projections

    • Key: continuing growth of membership

      • 600 by year’s end, 750, 1000 to open store

      • member house parties and drives


  • Market Study: Michelle

    • Inventory of the West Side of Providence

      • any commercial building on a vacant lot (investigated 30 sites, selected 4)

    • Main Criterial/Key Aspects

      • availability of parking

      • visibility

      • access of main corridor

      • 10K sq. feet

      • public transit

    • Debbie Saussana – CDS--professional market study expert

      • CDS consultant

      • looked at 4 sites with the most potential

      • annual sales potential on analysis of 4 sites

      • all had good potential to be viable

      • Urban Greens Council prioritized 2 of the 4 as most promising

    • Market Study analysis of the West side of Providence

      • not usual area for a food co-p

      • sales potential will be based on outreach to non-traditional co-op customers

      • should open a smaller store that 10K sq. ft, more like 7500 sq. ft. and mature into space.

      • sales maturation smaller than a typical co-op


  • Potential Sites:

    • 1. completely new construction from vacant lot

      • advantages: could be idealized vision, exciting partnership and collaboration possibilities

      • challenges: adds an additional year (2015), more expensive, developer needed, extended timeline/grant timeline

    • 2. Retrofitting an existing building

      • Advantages: less expensive, condensed timeline

      • Challenges: No perfect space therefore will need to compromise, probably not fully realized vision,traffic flow, access, and parking will be trickier for a building that is already set

    • Meetings with City officials supporting the project:

      • Mayor’s office

      • Zoning

      • Council Members Solomon, Mates, and Principe

      • Office of Healthy Communities

    • Financial considerations

      • need accurate financial projections to obtain lending options and to know the numbers will work out

      • Balancing sources of funding

      • member equity

      • coop specific funding

      • member investment

      • CDC, CDFI, and EDC specific

      • Grants: CDBG, USDA, etc.


  • Potential Sources of Capital: Fletcher Kent

    • community investment is democratic

    • shopping/supporting local

    • member investment

    • GOAL: to avoid traditional loans

      • investments from members and community

      • campaign possibilities: direct public offering, member loan campaign

      • investment and profit (not a donation)

    • Feasible: many examples of successes from other new co-ops!

      • members lent $1000 to $50,000

      • Will happen in the Spring of 2014

      • consultant on board

      • interviewing securities lawyers for contractual needs

      • store in the community that belongs to the community, growing and sustaining a local economy

      • start to tap into people’s desire to invest into community

      • will serve as example to Business community--another way to fund their businesses

      • makes the store a reality and is a good example for local businesses in RI


  • Year Ahead

    • Will hire a general manager (national search, but hopefully someone local)

    • receive financing

    • pinning down price points/price structure for inventory

    • getting staffing together

    • keep Delia Kovac (Project Manager) employed

    • planning contribution

    • employee handbook

    • fleshing out buying practices


  • Simple Ways to Help

    • host a house party

    • talk about UG

    • pay off your share

    • Like/share on Facebook and Twitter

    • need more people to table/plan events

    • reaching farmers and producers

    • connect to business leaders

    • Join the UG Outreach Committee

    • UG is what you make it, a reflection of your ethics, views, and desires


  • Election

    • Winston: likes local food and local people

    • Matt T: previous council member, farmer

    • Matthew Stone: excited about the coop

    • Antoinetta: CFO of a Social Enterprise Greenhouse

    • Michelle: Southside Community Land Trust Development Associate, believes that food should be open to everybody

  • ByLaw Changes

    • making it easier to operate as a start up.  provide more flexibility to council.

    • Eligibility-language change

      • max of 20 shares is unnecessary (lawyer recommended to remove)

      • Allows for organizational share prices to be raised (no change for individual/households)

    • Electronic balloting--to change with technology

    • Quorum to include electronic balloting (previously only included mail balloting and meeting votes

    • Increase to 13 maximum seats for council members

    • remove six month limitation for council membership for new members

    • Final change: based on expanding number of council members to 13, fewer than half of the terms allowed to expire during the year


Q: How long are the council terms?

A: 3 years, but not everyone will serve for 3 years, therefore the min. time is 1 year


Q: What is the largest number of shares owned by an individual?

A: 7, but it is still only one vote.


Q: Are we going to remain being incorporated out-of-state or locally?

A: Now incorporated in Minnesota, this is difficult in RI. Need policy changes, more supportive statutes--goal overtime will be to support changes to RI statutes of incorporation, and incorporate in state.


Q: Stagger terms based on votes ____

A: I f there were an issue with those elected, those with the least votes get shorter terms


Q: Full term is 3 years so ⅓ of terms should end each year?  Should there be concern about only requiring ‘less than half’ to expire each year?

A: This is a reasonable goal-- but with any council of more than 9 people, it would require extending terms to 4 years, but that is a long-term commitment.  Ideally terms will be divided up so not they expire evenly.  The council has the power to assign shorter than 3 year terms so that there is even distribution for expiration. Keeping fewer than half will ensure that. As our capacity increases, we can review whether this is a need to change this.  There will be more forums.  65 members are here today.


Q: Six-month waiting period--anyone here on the council that worked on original version know a reason for the 6 month waiting period?

A: Attorney we worked with raised it as an option, we said ok. When we revisited it it was deemed unnecessary. At later stage it could be revisited and added back in, but it’s a valuable asset to have people jump on board right away.


Q: Before we vote, we wanted to know how many council members in 2014.

A: 13.


Q: Are there any of the new nominees here for less than 6 months--if the bylaw isn’t passed they won’t get on the council.

A: Everyone has been here for at least 6 months (though tight for one person)


The Vote:

Entertain motion to approve bylaw changes.

Second the motion, anyone opposed?

Motion passed unanimous.

Entertain a motion for council members

Second the motion, anyone opposed?

Motion passed unanimous.


Congrats to new council members!

Notes taken by Barbara Fluery

2013 Pie Contest Winning Recipes from our Annual Meeting

Post date: Monday, December 16, 2013 - 4:09pm


Our expert Pie judges: Dave Dadekian, Chef Kate Jennings, Chef Maria Meza

Grand Jury Prize Winner

Bourbon-Pecan Pie with Chocolate Ganache Drizzle


By Deb Fernandez


makes one pie


1 unbaked pie shell

¼ cup unsalted butter

1 cup dark brown sugar

¾ cup corn syrup

¼ cup bourbon 

½ teaspoon salt 

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups pecans, chopped

¼ cup whole pecan halves (optional)


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.


Place butter in a smallish, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-low heat.  When it is beginning to melt, add brown sugar, corn syrup, bourbon, and salt to the pan.  Stir well and heat until butter is thoroughly melted and mixture is very hot but not boiling.


Crack the eggs into a medium-sized bowl.  Whisk them till well blended.  Then, just a tablespoon at a time, slowly add the hot butter-corn syrup mixture.  Whisk until thoroughly blended.  Stir in vanilla and add pecan pieces.  Mix well and pour into the prepared pie shell.


(You can use whole pecan halves to decorate the edge if you want, but I usually don't because the ganache is decoration enough.)


Place pie in oven on a rack placed in the middle.  Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, then turn  the oven down to 350 degrees and bake for another 35 – 45 minutes, until filling springs back when lightly touched in the middle (it should be about 200 degrees in the center).


Let the pie cool for about an hour.  In the meantime make your ganache:


4 oz. good bittersweet chocolate

½ cup heavy cream 

Chop up the chocolate pretty finely.  Put the heavy cream in a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring it to the boiling point.   Remove the cream from the heat and stir in the chocolate until it is blended and smooth.  (You can also do this in a food processor: put the chocolate in the bowl of the processor, pulse until finely chopped.  Bring cream to a boil and pour down the feed tube with the processor running and blend until smooth.

Let the ganache cool somewhat, not till it begins to harden, but so that it isn't too runny, so till it's about 110 degrees.

Use the ganache to drizzle over the cooling pecan pie.  You can use a spoon to do this, or make yourself a little impromptu pastry bag by spooning the ganache into a ziplock bag and cut off a little bit of one of the corners (don't make the hole too big or you will have a hard time controlling the flow).  I like to make a kind of cross-hatch pattern, but be creative and have fun drizzling your pie.




People's Prize

Apple Cream Pie by Phil Trevett




For the third year in a row Council Member Phil Trevvett won the people's prize at the Urban Greens Annual Meeting Pie Contest.


Phil found the original version of this recipe here:


The below version is slightly adjusted to what he used when baking it.



1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 stick unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice and chilled

3 tablespoons cold milk

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar



3 cups apple cider boiled down to 1/2 a cup (best done in advance)

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup sour cream

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 large eggs

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 Apple thinly sliced (Granny Smith is great!)


1)  In a food processor, combine the flour, cornstarch, sugar and salt. Add the butter and pulse in 1-second bursts until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Combine the milk and vinegar and drizzle it on top. Pulse in 1-second bursts until the dough just comes together. Turn the dough out onto a work surface, gather up any crumbs and pat into a disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes.

2)  On a floured work surface, roll out the dough to an 11-inch round, a scant 1/4 inch thick; ease it into a 9-inch glass or ceramic pie plate. Trim the overhanging dough to 1 inch and fold it under itself. Crimp decoratively and chill the crust until firm, about 15 minutes.

3)  Preheat the oven to 425°. Line the crust with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. (Dried beans work great!  Enough to hold the parchment paper down).  Bake in the lower third of the oven for about 15 minutes, until the crust is barely set. Remove the parchment and pie weights. Cover the edge of the crust with strips of foil and bake for about 10-15 minutes longer (in middle of over, not lower third), until the crust is just set but not browned.  (Check before 10 minutes to make sure it doesn’t brown). Press the bottom of the crust lightly to deflate it as it puffs; let cool. Lower the oven temperature to 350°.

4)  For the ½ cup boiled cider: In a medium saucepan, boil the cider until it's reduced to 1/2 cup.  Best to start this prior to making the pie, so there’s time for it boil down and cool. Transfer to a bowl and let cool.

5) Take the cooled ½ cup cider and whisk in 3/4 cup of the sugar, the sour cream and salt, then whisk in the eggs.

6)  Pour the custard into the pie shell without removing the foil strips. Bake the pie in the lower third of the oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until the custard is set around the edge but the center is slightly jiggly. Let the pie cool completely.

7) When there are still 15 minutes left for the pie to bake, place the thin apple slices on a baking sheet, and bake, turning apples halfway through baking period.  Remove when pie is removed

8)  In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the heavy cream with the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar and the cinnamon until firmly whipped. Mound the cream on the pie, cut into wedges and serve.  Decorate the top with baked apple slices.





Post date: Thursday, December 5, 2013 - 3:38pm

Local Professional Chefs Create recipes tackling some of the more obscure produce you might find in your CSA.

No matter your devotion to eating local and supporting Rhode Island's smaller farmers, if you don't know how to use a veggie it is doomed for the compost. To help with this all too common problem, we have asked some local chefs to create recipes that tackle your CSA mysteries. Our CSA Sleuths are fabulous personal chefs and Urban Greens Members:

African Stew by Chefs Norbert & Lara of My Chef Lara

Squash and Kale Stew by Chef Deb Fernandez of Home Star Cuisine


This month's assignment:


Dark, Leafy and Fabulous!How I learned to like Kale.

by Lara Mortiz

Okay, I admit it. I had to work at liking Kale. I really wanted to like it because it is so nutritious but the bitter taste just kept me away. So I hatched a plot to start hiding it in my food and slowly get used to it. Now I actually eat Kale chips but I do stop short of eating it raw.

Preparing Kale is easy. You fold the leaf in half and just cut the leaf away from the stem. Then, for those of you just starting to try to love Kale, cut it in very small strips. There are many ways to get the benefits of Kale without loving it. Soups are one of the best way to do that.  One of my favorite soups that involves Kale is African Stew. You will love this soup even though it has kale in it and who knows, you may grow to like Kale over time just like me!



African Stew

Peanut butter makes a wonderful, creamy sauce for this nutrition-packed stew that is likely to become a family favorite. Season the stew with a dash of hot pepper sauce, fiery chipotle sauce, or Vietnamese chili sauce.

Serves 4.


4 cups vegetable stock or water

1 onion, chopped

2 cups yams or sweet potatoes, peeled and diced

14 oz chickpeas

1 cup brown rice

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 cup peanut butter

2 cups kale, chopped

2 Tbs lemon juice

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 Tbs tamari or Bragg Liquid Aminos



1. Heat 2 tbsp of the stock in a large pot. Add the onion and sauté over medium heat for 5 minutes, adding more stock if necessary.

2. Add the remaining stock, yams, chickpeas, rice, and salt; simmer for 45 minutes.

3. In a small bowl, blend the peanut butter with 1/2 cup of liquid from the stew to make a smooth paste. Stir into the stew along with the kale and cook for 5 minutes.

4.Stir in the lemon juice, pepper, and tamari; add chili sauce to taste.


Squash and Kale Stew by Chef Deb Fernandez 

By this time of year most varieties of vegetables are pretty much done for the season here in New England.  But fortunately there are some veggies made of sterner stuff that continue to thrive even as the weather turns cold and the days grow short.  Many of these are cruciferous vegetables, such as turnips, brussel sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, and today's CSA mystery basket item: kale.

Kale is an incredibly nutritious vegetable, with one cup of steamed kale providing more than  your daily requirement of Vitamin A, Vitamin K, and almost all the Vitamin C you need.  It has an abundance of other vitamins, minerals, fiber, helps prevent cancer, and clocks in at a mere 38 calories per cup (steamed).  So just for health reasons alone, we should, as the popular tee shirts say, Eat More Kale.

But if you don't like kale, no matter how healthy it is you won't eat it.  Fortunately the best reason to eat it is that it can be delicious when cooked properly.  People often shy away from kale because it has a reputation of being bitter and tough, but at this time of year it is at its peak.  Somehow the cold weather sweetens it (okay, I won't get carried away, it's not what you would call sweet, just not as bitter!).  It adds an earthy, bitter note that is welcome in dishes that have a certain amount of fat in them, like the classic Portuguese Kale and Sausage Soup.  

I would like to share with you one of my favorite recipes for kale.   This takes advantage of its bitterness to counterpoint against the sweetness of cider and the richness of bacon.  It makes a wonderful dish on a cold late fall evening, needing only the accompaniment of a crusty slice of bread to make a meal.  I got it on a grocery store bulletin board about ten years ago and have only made slight adjustments to it.  I look forward to it as the nights grow chill every year since and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.


Squash and Kale Stew

Serves 6 – 8


1 tablespoon olive oil

4 oz. bacon, cut crossways into matchsticks (See note at end) 

1 medium onion, diced

6 cloves garlic, thickly sliced

2 bay leaves

2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, chopped, or 2 teaspoons dried

1 cup apple cider

4 cups vegetable stock 

1 bunch of kale, washed, thick ribs removed, and cut into 1/2” pieces

1 16 oz. can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

salt and pepper

1 lb. butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1” cubes


In a heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat, warm olive oil and render the fat from the bacon.  Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and reserve.

Cook onions in bacon fat until they soften.  Add the garlic, bay, and thyme and cook until onions are translucent.  Do not brown.

Put cider and stock into the pot and bring to a boil.  Add kale, beans, salt and pepper to taste.  Lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, 15 minutes.

Add squash cubes to liquid and cook until squash is tender, about ten more minutes.  Ladle stew into bowls and garnish with reserved bacon.



NOTE:  This stew is good even without the bacon, so if you are a vegetarian or vegan skip the bacon and add 2 extra tablespoons of olive oil in the beginning and 1 tablespoon of smoked paprika when adding the herbs.