Four Corners Cooperative Board of Directors’ Meeting
January 28, 2020
The Garden Room
Directors: Brian Drayton (president), Lincoln Geiger, Anthony Graham, Barbara Johnson
(treasurer), Donna Riley (secretary), Alice Groh, Jamie Jones
Farmers: Benjamin Meier, Silvano Biffis, Elad Sadeh
Visitors: Barb Healey, Toby Tarnow
6:07pm Opening: Benjamin recited the poem “Prometheus” by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
Approval of Minutes: Minutes of the January 7, 2020 were approved with the addition of a book title correction, Developing Communities.
Board Minutes for Membership: The Board agreed to publish a redacted version of our meeting minutes, once approved, to the farm’s website so that members can be informed of board proceedings. The FCC president will review this version before it is published. The first version will be from our prior meeting (Jan 7, 2020).
Farm Staffing: Two vegetable farmer apprentices have been identified for a mid-Apr start. A new cheese apprentice was also found. We still need one dairy and one vegetable apprentice.
High Electric Bill: Anthony noted last month’s electric bill was $1,700 which is about $400 higher than normal. He suspects it was caused by the two new water heaters (cheese and dairy) and an apprentice house heater. He asked that we (1) heat the apprentice house solely with wood, (2) consider over-night shut-off of water heaters and (3) consider instantaneous water heaters.
Hilltop Café Lease: Alice and Walt, for the ECF, met with Michael Zielie to discuss the lease renewal at the request of ECF.
High Mowing Partnership: Brian met with the Head of School, Geraldine Kline and they agreed to establish a joint committee consisting of farm board members and school staff (notes from this meeting were circulated to the board). Initially, both Brian and Geraldine would be part of that committee, to help get it established. Brian will work to ensure there is no confusing overlap with the school’s “Land Use Committee”. Anthony and Lincoln volunteered to also represent the farm.
Creamery – 7-Year Milestone: Benjamin shared a year-by-year history of the Creamery’s evolution: It began as a simple experiment with small tubs, developing to building the cheese cave, acquiring proper cheese vats, farmers’ markets, cheese presses and now, with additional workers and significant farm revenue.
Next Season’s Budget Planning: A first draft of the budget was put together and distributed by Anthony, Barbara, and Elad. The draft budget was notably higher compared to the last two years and the key driver was an increase in farmer compensation. Specific line-items were discussed, including the higher costs associated with a shift to renewable electric sources.
“Business Meeting” Planning: The board discussed how the budget issues could be discussed with the membership during the “Business Meeting”. It was suggested that we should start the meeting with an open presentation and discussion about farmer pay before we discuss the implications that would have on member payments. This will give the members an opportunity to be better informed about the consequences of their decisions. Brian will pull together a team (with at least Brian, Barb and Elad) to work on the structure and content of that meeting.
“Pledge Meeting” Planning: People responded favorably to Benjamin’s outline of the meeting: (1) an opening, (2) welcoming statement, (3) ritual: members “connect with the land” by holding soil in their hands, then put into a container to be used for the season’s growing, (4) lead farmers talk, (5) assistant/apprentice introductions, (6) budget summary, (7) sing a song together, (8) Lincoln closes with a verse, (9) pledges made, then (10) dinner.
“The Friends”: Further to previous meetings’ discussions, Brian suggested that a small group of board members meet with “The Friends” (previously called FoTFA) to help clarify what relationship we want to have between the leadership of “The Friends” and the FCC Board, ways to share information, etc. Volunteers will join Brian and Barb at that meeting.
Visioning Meeting: Toby distributed a proposal on how a “Visioning Meeting” could be run with the membership. Some members noted concern that it would be difficult to add a third meeting when we already have two membership-wide meetings coming this spring. Alice noted that the board’s work with membership last season, “A Plan to Achieve Long-Term Sustainability”, provides a good basis to develop and pursue.
Next FCC Board Meeting: February 19th at 6pm in the Garden Room.
9:15 Closing: Benjamin read from Rudolf Steiner’s Anthroposophical Leading Thoughts.