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Co-ops are community-minded. They contribute to the sustainable development of their communities by sourcing and investing locally. Concern for community is an important guiding light at BriarPatch Food Co-op and one of the Co-op’s 7 Principles. 

Supporting local comes in many shades. This week, BriarPatch won national recognition with Progressive Grocer’s Award for Community Service/ Local Impact for its PatchWorks Volunteer Program. BriarPatch was among 25 grocery businesses recognized – including Fortune 500 companies like UNFI, Kroger and Publix. The PatchWorks Program has surpassed last year’s numbers and now has 206 volunteers who have volunteered 3,080 hours at 16 local nonprofit groups. 

“We are thrilled by the enthusiasm behind this program, from the nonprofits and our volunteers. BriarPatch Owners are so motivated to ensure these nonprofits are rich in the resources needed to accomplish their important work. It’s a true testament to the cooperative spirit,” said BriarPatch Marketing Manager Rebecca Torpie. 

September is Love Local Month at the Co-op and that’s a time when celebrating the region’s creative and vibrant community comes front and center. 

BriarPatch is showcasing locally grown produce like Italian parsley and dandelion greens from FogDog Farm and flamingo peppers and butternut squash from Feeding Crane Farm. It’s a salute to homegrown businesses like Local Culture, Early Bird Farms, Fable Coffee, Asunta’s Eggs, Paavani Ayurveda and more. Currently, BriarPatch sells 700 local items from 125 local brands. 

Celebrating local wine 

BriarPatch is also featuring local wine, like Montoliva Winery, a picturesque estate vineyard located in Chicago Park that narrowly escaped the River Fire. 

It was the second week of September when BriarPatch stopped by for a visit. Smoke was clearing, blue skies were beginning to brighten and Winemaker Mark Henry and his crew were tending to the“crushing” of the annual grape harvest. 

A month ago, the scene was much different. 

“At 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, August 4, I was fairly certain that the River Fire was going to take everything I had spent decades working to build,” said Henry. 

But instead, the winds shifted, leaving Montoliva Vineyard unscathed. 

“It went up and over us. We dodged that bullet,” said Henry, who owns the family vineyard with his wife and “wine muse,” Julienne. 

Mark Henry specializes in varietals that hail from Southern Italy. He says his wines are not heavily managed, sterile filtered or “blended into blandness.” 

“I’ve come to embrace the term, ‘rustic.’ I want my wines to taste like the fruit.” 

Montoliva is one of five local wines featured this month alongside Avanguardia, Clavey, Szabo, Nevada City Winery and Fawnridge. 

Concern for Community 

During COVID-19 and in the wake of the 2021 California wildfires, BriarPatch lent a hand whenever possible, out of concern for the community. Recently, the Co-op donated 50 $100 gift cards totaling $5,000 to 211 Connecting Point to give immediate help to families who lost their homes to the River Fire. There are 22 individuals and/or families that have identified an immediate need for basic necessities like food and wellness products after the fire. 

“This is one step in getting immediate assistance to those who need it most. It’s really generous and it will be greatly appreciated by those who receive it,” said Brandy Kolmer, Communications Manager for Connecting Point. 

When the Eldorado Fire forced thousands of people to evacuate in a sister foothill community, BriarPatch teamed up with Placerville Food Co-op, United Natural Foods, Inc. (UNFI), REI and JSM Organics Farm to bring essential food, gear, personal hygiene products and funding to people who had lost everything. 

For folks who want an easy way to pay it forward, each month there’s an opportunity to support a local nonprofit group by rounding up at the register. This month’s recipient of the popular CAUSE program is Wildlife Rehabilitation & Release (WRR), a group of mostly volunteers dedicated to the care and rehabilitation of injured wildlife. In addition, Endangered 

Species Chocolate is also donating 50 cents for every bar of chocolate sold in September and BriarPatch is matching it! 

Need an excuse to eat more chocolate? Try this recipe for Chocolate Peanut Butter Rice Crisps: https://www.briarpatch.coop/chocolatepeanutbutterricecrisps/ 

Learn more about the PatchWorks Volunteer Program: https://www.briarpatch.coop/community/volunteer/ 

Learn more about BriarPatch: https://www.briarpatch.coop/