Dear Supporter of Know Thy Food (friend, member, vendor, neighbor) —
During the last 5 years, KTF has offered 306 consecutive weekly Order Cycles online letting you shop for healthy, organic, farm-direct foods and other products online at discounted prices.
This week, Cycle 307, it all came to a halt. The chickens are still laying eggs, the cows are still giving milk, the farmers are still harvesting vegetables, and the bakers are still baking bread. But we cannot bring their products to your table.
I hope I have caught your attention. I hope your body is reacting and saying “Oh nooooooo!” and maybe you are even feeling a pit in your stomach? If nothing else, you are probably wondering, What is going on?
I know that for many of us KTF has become a resource that we rely on for real, healthy, nourishing food that comes directly from farms, ranchers and small artisan food producers who are working hard at creating an alternative, much shorter and direct food chain to eaters in the community. KTF provides so many unique and hard to find products in one convenient place. I know we draw customers from all over town who come for the grass fed gelatin, knuckle bones, fermented cod liver oil, pastured eggs and hundreds of other carefully curated selections. We strive to provide our neighbors in Brooklyn amazing coffee and friendly customer service. We make delicious food that features deli meats from a rotational grazing farm in Junction City (Deck Family Farm), organic greens from Sauvie Island (Sauvie Island Organics), and eggs from happy pastured chickens in Corvallis (Vitality Farm). KTF is also a place where friendships are forged and kids can be free to be kids without disapproving glances. We offer low cost entertainment for families 4-5 days a week. People love us and share their stories of overcoming health challenges like autism, gut dysbiosis, and even cancer because of the nourishing foods we provide! I know that I am not alone in wanting to keep KTF alive and well and active in the community.
However, I also worry that the community we serve assumes KTF is completely stabilized without realizing the fragile state we are still in. As sole proprietor, I have been working tirelessly to keep KTF going in anticipation of the final transition this past September 1st to a cooperative ownership structure. During the last 3 years that we have worked on this, we have had many struggles and challenges, yet my goal has always been to make sure KTF can become an entity that is independent and can go on into the future with new leadership (rest assured I intend to remain involved as a Director of the Board and in a “consultant” role for the foreseeable future). I have been 100% dedicated to its success and done whatever I can to push things forward.
We have a wonderful, hard working team of staff members who are dedicated to the business, our mission, and each other. Our work place is a community of friends who are proud to stand behind what we offer! We put over $800,000 back into our local economy last year, and support over 120 different farms, ranchers, small artisan food producers and other independent businesses in our city and region. We serve hundreds of families every week. We have accomplished so much already and have a functioning business with most of its needed infrastructure in place. We also share space with other small, mom and pop businesses and help food entrepreneurs with storage needs and sourcing of the best organic ingredients. We are home to a kombucha brewery! LionHeart Kombucha has been with us for 3 years, and as they move onto a bigger, new space, we are so excited to welcome Joe’s Living Kombucha into our space to continue the wonderful synergy! We also house Hazel & Pear, a sweet women’s and children’s consignment store, that is loved by the community.
We are so close! We have the whole deal written up and approved by lawyers. We are just waiting for the final paperwork to arrive so we can sign the deal. Unfortunately, a delay with the co-op’s attorney means we have not yet completed this final step to seal the deal, and close the transaction that will legally transfer all of KTF’s assets to the co-op.
Then Tuesday night, rather unexpectedly, the co-op Board lost its leadership when the President resigned. Unfortunately, because our Board is already so small, and because of my conflict of interest as the current sole proprietor and owner of KTF, there is nobody else to step into that leadership position. Without a President, the Board cannot function. And without a Board, nobody can sign the contracts that pass on the torch to the new KTF leadership. Without leadership and a contract, KTF cannot go on.
KTF entails an incredible amount of organization on the back end, as well as many legal and financial responsibilities. These have been shouldered by me alone in anticipation of September 1st, 2015, when my lease was up, and the co-op was to step into its leadership shoes relieving me from being the only legally and financially responsible party. I am thankful to have my burden lightened up in this way, so I can do what I do best, which is bring my vision and passion in service of KTF’s mission. While I am not able to continue on in the sole proprietor role (personally guaranteeing leases, vendor accounts, liabilities as an employer etc), I am super excited to continue carrying out the mission of KTF with the proper support network in place and under new cooperative leadership. I cannot do this alone. This is extremely difficult and emotional for me, but without new leadership, I will have to shut down KTF as early as October 31st. The KTF we all know and love would go away forever.
So what can you do NOW?
As one last plea to our community of members, supporters, vendors, friends and neighbors, I am asking for anyone who wants to help to do one or all of the following:
1. Join as a Member-Owner! It is quick and easy and we can accept as little as $30 (50% discount for low income families) to get you started on the Member-Owner track. Go here to register. Select your co-op member-ownership type (NOT “club membership”) and then pay through the PayPal link. If you are already registered online, but are not a Member-Owner, simply send the $30 (or $15 if low income) to KTFequity@gmail.com by PayPal. This is a small, but very powerful way to tell us that you are behind us and to inspire our new leadership to keep moving forward!
2. Apply to be on our Board. We can have 12 Directors and currently only have 4. Directors must be Member-Owners in good standing, so if you have not done step #1, do that first! We are looking for people to serve in all positions on the Board, including someone with leadership skills, vision, and passion for KTF’s mission that we’d hope to see in a Board President. Email me if you have questions about the tasks facing the Board.
3. Plan to shop our store in person on Tuesday 10/13 and Wednesday 10/14 instead of picking up your online order. We need to see your faces and know that you support KTF. Come tell us you love us and want us to stay open!
4. Come to our next Board meeting on Wed 10/14 at 6:30 pm at 3434 SE Milwaukie Ave and show us your love. Tell us you want to help and want to volunteer your time in some way. You must be a Member-Owner to volunteer, so if you have not done step #1, do that first! We will find a job for you, however small, to fit your schedule and time constraints.
5. If nothing else, send this letter to all your friends who you think can help.
We know that there are many challenges ahead. The remaining Board, staff and I are all willing to face the tasks in front of us, and want to build a competent Board with strong leadership that can get this work done and lead us forward into the future, so KTF can be the best co-op possible for us all.
I believe in KTF and I believe in the community that stands behind KTF, and I know we can accomplish almost anything if we just set our minds to it.
Let’s do this! Thanks so much for all the support over the years! I would never have been able to get this far without you all.