When I was first introduced to New Roots, I felt like I was drowning in terminology. Shareholders, veggie cheerleaders, Fresh Stop Markets, forecasting. As my internship moved along, I discovered that every single term and function of the food justice movement is calculated and intentional. Whenever Executive Director Karyn Moskowitz or others were talking to news outlets, potential partners, or people new to the movement, they were sure to emphasize that the families who buy and eat our vegetables are not clients, they are not customers – they are shareholders.
As I continued to listen, learn, and reflect, I began to understand the weight of the term “shareholder.” In the business world, being a shareholder means a person has part ownership of the company. It gives them power, decision-making, and a voice. The same goes for shareholders of the Fresh Stop Markets. The greater purpose behind New Roots is to achieve food sovereignty for the Kentuckiana region – which means that ownership, involvement, and a degree of control is essential for ALL members. That’s why Fresh Stop Markets are completely shareholder/volunteer run.
It’s also why New Roots conducts forecasting sessions each winter where the community can decide what food they would like to see the farmers grow. So, our shareholders do more than pick up groceries every two weeks. They become a part of a food justice movement.
But, what does it mean to be a part of the movement? I came in expecting to work at a non-profit, and while I was not expecting it to be exactly like working for a small business, I imagined something along the lines of a social agency – but this was not the case.
New Roots exists only as an organization structure to serve and aid the community. The shareholders, market managers, volunteers, site coordinators, and donors are the ones out in the field doing the work. New Roots ignites community power for fresh food access, but the community is the one that keeps the flame burning.
While it might not seem like buying some vegetables every other week is feeding a social movement, shareholders are one of the keys to changing food access. Since Fresh Stop Markets practice a model of cooperative economics, each shareholder is supporting their local community (read more about cooperative economics here).
Each shareholder helps provide small, organic farmers a steady income so they can continue to support themselves, their community, and the environment. Each shareholder supports the mother-to-be who wants to eat healthier, the business that wants to provide its workers with holistic healthcare benefits, and the family that wants to support its local economy. Each shareholder supports every other shareholder.
So, when you become a New Roots shareholder, you aren’t feeding only yourself, but feeding the entire fresh-food justice movement. To me, it seems like a win-win-win-win situation. By now, you must be ready to take ownership over the future of Kentuckiana’s food access and become a shareholder. Sign up for the coming season here.