Support the Central City Co-op

Some of you may know that my wife, Tiffany Tyler, has been working with Central City Co-Op. Last year, she helped launch the farmers market they run at Discovery Green – she was its first manager – and has continued to work with them on their Board of Directors. Central City is embarking on its first capital campaign this summer. She sent the following email to friends and supporters of Central City, which I’m reproducing here:

As most of you know, I’ve spent the past 2 years working within Central City Co-Op.  I’d been a co-op shopper and member since 2003, and took the opportunity after my corporate severance to become more involved in this community-based organization.  I am now chairman of its Board of Directors.

The Co-op has a central mission of bringing fresh, organic produce to people in the Houston community at a reasonable price.  We use a network of local farmers and a national distributor to source our produce, and a group of strongly committed volunteers supporting the equivalent of 3 paid staff to make the business work.  This includes our Wednesday operations on Taft Street AND the Farmer’s Market at Discovery Green on Sundays.  Each market day, remaindered unsold produce is donated to feed the least fortunate in our community.  In 2008 we donated over $10,000 in produce to support SEARCH, the Salvation Army and the Beacon at Christ Church Cathedral.

Our volunteers and staff have worked in area schools to do nutrition education and outreach, including Healthy Harvard Happenings.  We work now with the Urban Farm Belt coalition to help develop more community-based gardens so that people in the inner city will have access to the fresh produce they need to have balanced diets at reasonable cost.  Our Sunday operation at Discovery Green provides free booth space to community service groups to bring their messages of caring for the environment and each other to the masses of park attendees each weekend.

We pride ourselves on being a Texas not-for-profit corporation, serving our community.  We do not have IRS 501 C3 status, however, and this presents challenges as we apply for grant funding to grow and expand our educational programming.  It also hampers us when we need to replace capital goods.  Things like refrigerators, computers, shelving and scales do break.  The margins we use to keep our prices low don’t allow us a lot of wiggle room.  So we need a capital campaign.

We have begun our first capital campaign this summer, with a goal of raising sufficient funds to replace and expand our refrigeration system, buy new shelving and replace our scales.  We have multiple projects planned throughout the summer and fall to meet this goal.  Our summer projects include:

a car wash ticket sale for Bubbles Express.  Now through the 22nd of July, purchase a Choice Wash ticket from us for $8 (the same $8 they charge you if you drive up), and the Co-Op keeps $4.  We all like clean cars, right?  And the Bubbles on Washington Avenue is really convenient.  And did you know that they RECYCLE the water in their carwash?  Each 18 gallons used in a typical Choice Wash gets used for 2 or 3 cars (depending on how dirty they are).  And of course it is filtered and then sent to the treatment plant.  So there’s no groundwater contamination AND it uses very little water.  Doesn’t it just make you want to buy a block of tickets from me right now?  They’re good through 22 December, so you can stock up!

a community garage sale.  On Saturday 11 July, the folks at Fixers Automotive on Harvard at 11th are letting us use their space for a large community garage sale.  We’d love to have your household goods for sale, and we’d love to have you stop by and clothe your kids or round out your household in some other way.  Contact me for drop-off information.  We’ll be selling from 8 am to noon on the 11th.  And we’ll have carwash tickets there, too.

I encourage all of you to support Central City Co-op.  I’ve found it to be a wonderful group of people who believe passionately in good food, good stewardship and strong community.  We are always looking for more good folks to help, as well, so if the spirit moves you to learn more and become involved, please don’t hesitate to ask me for more information.

Thanks for your time.  I look forward to hearing from you.

You can also follow Central City Co-op on Twitter or join their Facebook group. If you want to help out with the car wash ticket sales, or just want to buy some car wash tickets, please send an email to [email protected]. Or just leave a comment here and we’ll get in touch. Thanks very much.

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