story & photo
by Jon Persson
It’s all there, and it’s local.
Fiddleheads, New London’s organic fair-trade grocery cooperative, celebrated its fifth birthday on Saturday, February 2, with a busy and diverse Winter Farmer’s Market. Purveyors from the surrounding region offered a full array of organic and vegan baked goods, grass-fed meats, boutique soaps and beauty products, and more.
New London’s own Bread ’n’ Cookies has a table with cookies, breads, and tea cakes, while 13 Washington Coffee Shop displays fresh baked oatmeal cookies and hot food samples. Laura Natusch has a display of locally made, natural soaps and beauty products.
The vendors, many of whom have permanent displays at Fiddleheads, denote two converging realities of food and grocery markets in these times: local, organic, and fair-trade products are a growing niche in the marketplace; and such businesses must add value to their enterprises by offering processed foods and products.
Fiddleheads has enjoyed a solid level of growth over the past two years, reaching the $1 million mark in 2011, and hitting $1.8 million in sales for 2012. In an economy where most Main Street-level businesses can struggle, this success demonstrates the viability of the cooperative model.
While Fiddleheads itself is a non-profit, membership-based cooperative, its suppliers and vendors are local and owner-operated. For them, the opportunity to access a growing marketplace in a reliable and centrally located store environment is an important factor. For the patrons, who pursue a lifestyle of healthy food choices with an environmental and economic conscience, the cooperative plays an indispensable role.
Fiddleheads is located at 13 Broad Street in New London, and is open seven days a week. Hours of operation will be extended in the near future, once a poll of store patrons has been tallied.
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