Monday, June 24, 2013

Seed2Plate Co-Op is Elementary

One day Christina Cicack “got really lost navigating the Houston freeway system. “ An unexpected detour through construction on I10 forced her to change paths and drive through The Heights. She found herself driving down White Oak and was reminded of her of college days in Austin. She immediately felt a sense of home. A native Texan in the process of re-relocating from Eugene, Oregon, Cicack knew this could be her next place to settle. Soon after her crazy detour, she put her whole family in the car and, as if by instinct, they made their way down Bayland Ave. On this driev the family discovered “a great little corner of the Heights” just behind Kaboom Books. They decided they would settle there for a while and put down some roots. “I grew up as an urban kid in Dallas and I want the same experience for my children so The Heights area fit the bill nicely,” Cicack says.

The Cicack family came to the Heights in 2011. Christina became a Travis parent at the same time with her oldest entering pre-k at the neighborhood school. This coming school year she will be a Travis parent x2 with a child in pre-k and a 1st grader.  Her youngest is turning one at the end of this month. The little one they often call “The Co-Op Kid” since he's been going to Central City Co-op literally every week of his life. 

The Co-op Kid. I'd pretty much buy anything that smile was selling!
After moving from Oregon, a land of agriculture with a keen awareness of where food comes from, Cicack was on a mission to find a community here that reflected that. She knew the questions she needed to ask and looked in to Central City Co-op. “Central City passed my ethical and environmental test. They shared the same standards of what I look for when searching for local, chemical-free, and fairly-traded goods and produce. Central City Co-op has had some of the longest standing relationships with Houston's original sustainable farming pioneers and that means something. I began my journey with Central City Co-op as a floor volunteer, greeting visitors and upgraded to updating the web and social media aspects of the co-op.”

While Christina and The Co-Op Kid were doing their thing at Central City, the idea of a co-op at Travis was brought to her attention by former Travis parent and Central City Co-op director, Carolyn Lambeth. Cicack learned that a survey was done, possibly around  2010, among Travis families. The survey was to determine if there was an interest in having a food co-op at Travis. About 75 families and teachers responded with a resounding “YES!”  For Cicack, the idea of a partner co-op made complete sense as she wanted to have the greatest impact she could.  And there it was, her new title:  Partner Co-op Coordinator.

The Travis Co-op was started in November of 2011, and with the help of fellow Travis parent, Jennifer Aiyer, Christina was able to work all the major kinks out of running a co-op.  Starting any new enterprise isn’t easy.  For Christina, “the biggest setback I had in the first year of managing a partner co-op was being pregnant with my third child and suffering from severe forgetfulness.” These days, though, it’s a well oiled machine and she feels more “like superwoman carrying a little one in a baby carrier on my chest along with a couple grocery totes full of local greens, potatoes, onions, and sometimes local watermelons! It's a good feeling and it's one way I know I am having a direct impact by putting real, fresh food on people's tables and, mainly, on kid's plates.”

Now, the Travis Co-op has expanded due to the demand of the neighborhood and by direct requests of Heights residents who want to participate in the co-op model but don't necessarily have a child attending Travis Elementary. Christina and the Travis Co-op are proud to announce a neighborhood co-op, in partnership with Central City Co-Op and Heights of Health!

Seed2Plate offers Heights residents a selection of local, organic, and sustainably grown produce and eggs delivered conveniently in our own neighborhood. It is their goal “to deliver you fresh and affordably priced produce to help meet your family's need for chemical-free, nutrient-dense produce! In return we support our local growers who work hard to be caring stewards of the environment.”
Cicak volunteering for Central City Co-op at Downtown Food Day celebration in 2011
Seed2Plate is currently operating a pick-up location in The Heights at:

Heights of Health
540 Frasier St, Houston, TX 77007
(off White Oak, across the street from Onion Creek Cafe).
Pick-up is Wednesday, between 3pm-5pm!
Haven't been there before? Go check them out: http://www.heightsofhealth.com
Want to know some background on them? Read my previous post "A Healing House"

In celebration of their new summer location at Heights of Health, Seed2Plate is offering a fabulous discount to new and returning co-op members: Add an Annual Membership of $48 to your shopping cart this summer and your membership will remain good through next December. That gives you six months free membership to the co-op.

How does Seed2Plate Co-op work?
  1. Decide to eat more fresh and local fruits and veggies.
  2. Put your trust in Seed2Plate to source organic and sustainably grown produce.
  3. Place an online order at Seed2Plate.org by Thursday  9am of the week PRIOR to Wednesday's pick-up. New and renewing members add an annual membership to their shopping cart (with the summer discount, membership costs you about 62 cents per week)!
  4. Have 2 re-usable grocery tote bags ready with your name and cell number labeled on it. Leave one at Heights of Health and leave the other when you pick-up your produce the following Wednesday.
  5. Pick up your yummy co-op shares at Heights of Health(540 Fraiser St) during the hours of 3pm-5pm on Wednesdays.
  6. Re-order your share the same way as before by the ordering deadline of Thursday 9am. Sit tight and don't forget to pick-up your share on Wednesdays!
If you have any questions or comments, contact seed2platecoop@gmail.com
To learn more about how co-op works, visit them at Seed2Plate.org.
You can sign-up and place your orders online at: http://www.seed2plate.org/order-online.html

As you know, I also love anything that is a double whammy of local business support. I asked Cicack how Seed2Plate came to partner with Heights of Health.

Heights of Health on Frazier St, just across from Onion Creek
Cicack knew of Heights of Health through another Travis parent, who invited her to a stress seminar at the holistic health center. “I gladly went. Immediately walking through the doors it felt like home and the wonderful team who operates it are very knowledgeable on integrative care and wellness.” In Eugene, Cicack had worked at a wellness center very similar to Heights of Health and it clicked for her as being a genuine place for The Heights community to pick-up their fruits and veggies. Fortunately, the Heights of Health team felt the same way about the co-op.

Christina Cicack and her partners at Seed2Plate are incredibly optimistic about this venture. They believe the Heights will be receptive and they’ll be creating a healthier, happier neighborhood. “Plus,” says Cicack, “I want to show other neighborhoods how easy participating in a community co-op can actually be while having huge rewards for the neighborhood, local farmers/growers and the environment.”

Cicack wants healthy food for her family. And yours!
I have long wanted to join Central City. This new partnership puts their concept and products in reach for myself and other Heights residents who just couldn’t get to Central City’s location during their Wednesday hours. I share Christina’s optimism and wish them much success! I also can’t wait for my first bushel of fresh, summer produce!

7 comments:

  1. You had me hooked until "Pick-up is Wednesday, between 3pm-5pm!" Unfortunately, that eliminates anyone who works normal hours.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Heights LifeJune 27, 2013 at 9:09 AM

      I know, the hours can be tough. You should email them at the address in the story and tell them you need later hours. Your request alone may not accomplish it, but I would bet there is flexibility if there is demand.

      Delete
  2. I wonder if Onion Creek wouldn't be willing to "hold" the tote bags till people came by to get them? They are open much later and I am sure wouldn't mind some folks dropping in to get their veggies - and maybe a beer or two? They had one of the first Farmers Markets in the city.

    A 3 -5 pickup window does make it hard for working people.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Agreed, 3-5 counts me out...

    ReplyDelete
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  5. Yay! Seed2Plate now has evening hours from 5pm-7pm. Check our website for pick-up location:
    Seed2Plate.org

    ReplyDelete
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