May 2019
May Flowers, Plant Sale, and Owner Appreciation Days
In this month's newsletter:

  • A Word from the General Manager
  • Board Visioning Update
  • May Friday Feast: Two Congolese-inspired Dishes
  • This Month's Meal Kit: Roasted Vegetable Couscous
  • Co-op Plant Sale
  • May Owner Days
  • Owner Days Owner Drive
  • Immersion Festival 2019
  • Solar Buying Program
  • New Items
  • Humans of the Co-op
  • In the Media
  • Round Up For Good
  • Upcoming Classes
From the GM
Gary Taylor, General Manager
Read Gary's May piece on the new focus of Common Ground, our current work concerning our Ends, and future endeavors.
Board Visioning Update
An update from Board Member Evelyne Tardy
May 2019

Have you noticed that the Common Ground Board of Directors has been meeting in a new location?

For a number of years, we held our monthly meetings (along with special meetings like the Meeting of Owners and Financial Meeting of Owners) at the Urbana Civic Center. When the City of Urbana announced the closure of the Civic Center in December 2018 due to budget constraints, the Board had to find a new place to meet.

We were pleased to find suitable space at the First United Methodist Church of Urbana (FUMCU), located just west of Lincoln Square Mall, and held our first meeting of 2019 there. While the Co-Op is entirely secular, we were glad for the opportunity to partner with our neighbors at FUMCU. We knew that they, like us, saw community as a strong priority: the church’s Children’s Center offers not for profit, non-denominational child care, and the building also hosts conversational English classes and meetings of other community groups.

Then, in late February, the Board learned that the worldwide United Methodist Church had voted to strengthen its ban on gay and lesbian clergy and same-sex marriages. This was a controversial vote for the church, since many Methodists, including many clergy, had pushed hard for a resolution (the “One Church Plan”) that would have enabled local congregations to make their own decisions about recognizing LGBTQ pastors and same-sex marriage.

As a Board, we thought about the first of Common Ground’s Ends, which states: “The Co-Op is the center of a vibrant, inclusive community.” Could we continue to hold Board meetings at FUMCU when the United Methodist Church with which it was affiliated had taken such a problematic stance?

In early April, the Board wrote to FUMCU’s pastor, Reverend Robert Freeman, to let him know of our concerns and to ask him to clarify First United’s position.

Pastor Freeman responded immediately to our letter, and wrote that “news of our General Church has truly disappointed our community” and “has rocked us to our core.” He indicated that many in his congregation had contacted him to express their disappointment with the vote, and shared with us a letter he had sent to his parishioners in which he asserted that at FUMCU, “ALL of us belong.” He wrote: “I don’t know what all of this means for the future, but I want you to know as long as I am the Pastor of Urbana First United Methodist Church, you will have a friend that strives for your full inclusion in the life of the church and in the community.”

At Common Ground Food Co-operative, all are welcome, and we want to be sure that’s the case with our meeting locations as well. We will continue to monitor this situation and will let you know of any further developments. As always, please let us know your thoughts by attending our monthly meetings or by sending us an email at

The next meeting of the Board of Directors is Monday, May 13th, from 6:15 to 8:15 pm at First United Methodist Church of Urbana located on Race Street near the west entrance to Lincoln Square. Owners are welcome and encouraged to attend. Please use the entrance with the maroon awning, on the east side of the church.
Friday Feast: Congolese-inspired Dishes
Tshaka Madesu & Moambe Chicken
This month's Friday Feast meal features two Congolese-inspired dishes: Tshaka Madesu & Moambe Chicken . Enjoy this affordable, delicious & local meal on Friday, May 17th, from 5pm to 7pm.

Tshaka Madesu is a Congolese-inspired stew made with greens, beans, peppers and onion.

Moambe chicken is widely considered to be the national dish of the DRC. It's made of flavorful stewed chicken in a tomato sauce with spices.

This meal will be available at $9 per serving. Dinner will be served near our Cafe.

Find more info here .

Friday Feast is a monthly Co-op event, which features a meal that is healthy, delicious, and affordable. Each meal will incorporate local and seasonal food and most will include both a meat and vegan option.
May Meal Kit: Roasted Vegetable Couscous
orders must be placed by Tuesday, May 14th
Each month you can order a 4-serving Meal Kit and pick it up on the designated day. We shop for all of the ingredients and you bring it home to cook.

This month’s recipe features Roasted Vegetable Couscous.

Pick-up date is Wednesday, May 15th, from 10 am to 6 pm in the Flatlander Classroom.
Common Ground's 11th Annual Plant Sale
The Plant Sale is Saturday, May 4th
Join us at the Co-op for the 11th Annual Plant Sale on Saturday, May 4th. Most of our seedlings featured during this fundraiser have been grown locally by our farmers and the Co-op community. We will have tomatoes, peppers, brassicas, lettuces, flowers, herbs, house plants, succulents and much more!

The success of the plant sale is very important to us and the community, as our Food for All program is made possible through its proceeds. Food for All funds equity grants, food discounts, and free Co-op classes for those who are in need of financial assistance or who are interested in learning how to cook.

Special thanks to our local farm sponsors: Blue Moon Farm , PrairiErth Farm , Sola Gratia Farm , Wolf Creek, Meyer Produce, Old Town Flowers CU , and Green Pantry Nursery!
Owner Appreciation Days
There's no better time to be an owner
May Owner Appreciation Days of 2019 are just around the corner!

Between May 2 and May 5, owners can enjoy 10% off during a shopping trip, along with amazing store-wide sales, available from store open to close! You'll also have the opportunity to meet some local farmers and producers, while they sample their unique products!

Find a complete lineup of samples & events here .
Owner Days Owner Drive
Don't miss out on all the new owner goodies
Become an owner from May 2-5 and receive an owner bag full of lot's of awesome gifts, from gift cards to coupons, and even a free t-shirt. All of this will be given in addition to 10% off one shopping trip during Owner Days.

Refer an owner during Owner Days and receive a $10 shopping credit on your owner account if the membership is paid in full and your first name is given.
Immersion Festival 2019
There's no better time to be an owner
Help us support a fellow Co-op staff member by attending  Immersion Festival 2019  this May.

Immersion Festival is a two­-day, multidisciplinary experimental arts festival.

The festival will incorporate two nights of main stage performances, daytime workshops on May 4th, a visual arts gallery, video art projection installations, and (as the centerpiece) a 16.2 channel sound ­dome installation. All ages are welcome!

For more info, check the event page .
Solar Urbana-Champaign
A solar installation group buying program
"Home, business, and farm owners anywhere in Champaign County and Piatt County have an opportunity to take advantage of low solar pricing through a limited-time solar group purchase program. Building on 3 years of success, Solar Urbana- Champaign 2019 is a solar group buy program that can help property owners invest in lower cost solar installations through the power of volume purchasing. 

Join us for a FREE, one-hour seminar on Tuesday, May 28th at 6:30pm in the Flatlander Classroom. This informational session educates homeowners, small business owners, and farmers on the benefits of solar energy. It’s the first step to participate in the program and go solar!"

Learn more at
New Items Around the Store
April Café feature:
Peppermint Ginger Iced Tea >>>
  •  $1.99

Starting May 1st the Cafe hours will be 8am-8pm

New items in the meat & cheese department:
  • We now have shelf talkers in the cheese case, providing a brief description of the product as well as pairings

  • Local summer items will start being available 5/18
  • These items will include, but are not limited to beef patties, bratwurst, hot dogs (pork & beef), and ribs

  • NEW Beef North African from Triple S Farms
  • On sale for $8.99/lb (April 30 - May 7)
  • Regular Price: $9.99/lb
  • Fresh Chicken from Triple S Farms
  • Arriving 5/2 (while supplies last)

  • Pork sausages from Whistling Hen Farms
  • Sweet & Sassy Sage
  • Farmer's Mild Breakfast Sausage
  • Fresh local chicken from Whistling Hen Farms
  • Delivery expected on May 10th & May 24th

Whistling Hen Farms is a Free Range and antibiotic-free farm, which consists of hogs and chickens that are fed pasture of clover, alfalfa, and oats in the growing season and the same mix of hay in the winter. The pasture and hay are both grown without harmful pesticides or herbicides and are supplemented with a non-GMO and chemical free ration of corn and soybeans.
New Local Farm:
  • Allison Centennial Farm located in Alvin, IL (35.2 miles) 

Eric and Melissa Luttrell have pasture raised Black Angus Cattle that spend 100% of their day on the pasture, and have access to a barn for inclement weather. Their pasture raised cattle are supplemented with grass, hay, and are hand fed corn for finishing. They also have access to a free choice protein tub and minerals. You can find their 90% lean ground beef in our meat freezer
New items in the produce department:

  • Locally-grown greens are showing up next month
  • Radishes are starting to trickle in
  • Some different types of kale, chard, heads of lettuce, and other tasty local goodies will soon be available
Co-op Bakery:
  • New Items:
  • Cinnamon CBD surprise Cookies (vegan) 
  • Delightful shortbread cookies, featuring local flowers from Delight Flower Farm
  • Returning Items
  • Strawberry Rhubarb Pie (vegan)
  • Lemon Poppy Zucchini Bread (vegan)

Our Co-op Bakery is located in the Co-op Kitchen, where all of our delicious Co-op foods are made from scratch, with love, with local and organic ingredients whenever possible.
Cara (Co-op Teacher)
"I’ve always lived in Urbana since moving here to attend the U of I in 2014, so the Co-op has always been there within reach. For me it is a very accessible place for all things food-wise, particularly really interesting wines, locally roasted coffee, etc.

The Co-op offers a lot of options for shopping wisely and consciously when I have the budget, and for someone with a degree in Food Science I can really spend an hour in the little shop to just look at what’s new in the market, and new certification programs like Bird-Friendly coffees! But the reason why the Co-op is truly special for me is its central role in the community, you don’t have to be a shopper to be attracted to this place; all sorts of events, the classroom, the bulletin board, the student days, and the most beautiful of all - the Round Up for Good program - bring all facets of Urbana together.

My time in Urbana is coming to an end. There’s so much appreciation for what I’ve learned being part of the community here, and the Co-op has been a big part of that experience."

Visit the Humans of the Co-op website for the entire interview and to see all our Humans.
Diversifying the Local Food Movement
The Month of April seemed to focus on highlighting not only the attempts of diversifying the notions of who we recognize as farmers, but also highlighting the many different kinds of people and cultures which are contributing to the local food movement. In Marin County, California, a new generation of Asian-American farmers is reconnecting with its culinary heritage by growing vegetables commonly cultivated in Asian cultures with the use traditional farming techniques. Puerto Rico is also fueling the local food movement in the wake of two hurricanes that devastated the island in 2017. A year-round vegetable farm and job-skills program in Fresno, California is investing in the city's African-American youth and contributing to the local food movement by combating food security within their community and changing the narrative around farming.

  • “I think being able to start a farm that’s so vocal about growing Asian produce by Asian workers with the intention to sell it to Asian folks is important,” he says. “I’m not growing them for people to think that’s cool, but for Asian-American people who think it’s a link to their history.”

  • Puerto Rico, on the other hand, is rehabilitating the island by reclaiming agency over the food and ingredients available to the island. More effort is being made to form new links between local restaurants, farms, and vendors, since old, outside connections were broken by the devastation of hurricanes Irma and Maria. The grant program, Plow to Plate, is now run by local employees, and has awarded nearly $600,000 to local farmers and other local food producers to rebuild their businesses.

  • The local food movement still has many challenges in Puerto Rico. With both the large impact of the fast food industry and the colonial status of the island, which makes it more organized for industrial agriculture, supporting local producers, eating native ingredients, and cooking from island traditions requires a strong commitment. The rehabilitation of Puerto Rico from the two storms seems to have strengthened this commitment that will ultimately strengthen Puerto Rico's local food movement. Chef Jose Enrique, who built his San Juan destination restaurant by cooking all things local, says the movement has come back "with a vengeance."

  • "My farmers are growing root vegetables that no one wanted before, and I can buy fresh butifarra and longaniza.” 

  • New Light for New Life Church of God in West Fresno hosts an urban farming group called "the Freedom School Demonstration Farm." The group meets on Saturdays during the school year and twice a week during the summer. It also teaches job skills in construction, landscaping, janitorial work, photography, journalism, and video production. With the aid of a curriculum that includes black history and agricultural research, this program is working to change the narrative of planting, harvesting, and working outside that is otherwise deeply associated with transgenerational trauma in the African American community. Arogeanae Brown, who grew up in Fresno and now works for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), states that:

  • “We need to get back into it from a new approach. We need to get young people of color back to the farm not just so they can grow their own food but so they can participate in the food system.” With the investment in the education of these children about their history, agricultural sciences, and other job skills, they are actively participating in the food security of the Fresno community. By using farming, and other avenues such as a farmer's market, public service projects, or just extending the farm's produce to those in the community who might need it, the Freedom school Demonstration Farm is contributing to the local food movement.

If you're interested in reading more on the subject, here are a few different articles:
Round Up For U-C Books to Prisoners
An update on the April Round Up

In April, together we raised over $4,000 for Urbana-Champaign Books to Prisoners and contributed towards its efforts to facilitate a quality volunteer experience, offer a venue for inmates to tell their own stories, and educate the community about prisons.   " The targeted Book Drive for Books to Prisoners were also a huge success, with the donation receptacles overflowing by the end.

Your donations will help enable U-C Books to Prisoners to continue sending books to prisoners in Illinois free of charge, a tradition that was started back in 2004.

Round Up For Good is a call-to-action inspired program, which began in February 2010 when Common Ground owners expressed a desire to help fund the relief of the earthquake in Haiti. Since then, the program has transformed into a community-focused ongoing effort to help fund local organizations that are selected democratically by store owners.

May Round Up: Food For All: Our Food Accessibility Program
Common Ground's Food For All program is designed to help our customers eat healthy and save money. 

  • The FFA Equity Grant gives qualified Co-op customers a 10% discount on Co+op Basics food staples and all of our produce section. 
  • FFA members will also be granted a yearly ownership that has been donated through Co-op community fundraisers like our Annual Plant Sale and Round Up For Good donation program.
  • Food For All is for everyone! Whether you are needing an incentive to cook healthier, have low income or an active food stamp (LINK) card, a temporary illness or disability, are responsible for care of someone suffering from an illness or disability, or you are currently receiving unemployment or other governmental assistance, you automatically qualify for an Equity Grant. Students are welcome to apply, too.

The FFA Food Accessibility program covers discounts and classes for an entire year. When it expires, you can reapply. 

May Classes & Events

See what's new for the month of May in our classes email.

You can always sign up online or in-store and classes are listed on the class calendar.
Enjoy $2 off your next purchase of $15 or more
Just bring in this slip or show it on your device. Valid through the end of May. Can not be reused or used for sale items, Co-op Basics, or alcohol.