This last February, marked the second anniversary of what has become the San Clemente Community Market.
San Clemente Community Market was borne from the simple need to feed my family real food – the type of food my grandmother prepared: locally produced, minimally-processed with no artificial ingredients. In order to find it, my family found ourselves driving to multiple locations in Orange and San Diego Counties. We travelled to South Coast Farms in San Juan to buy local produce, and Irvine and Aliso Viejo for retailers selling naturally-raised meats. This was frustrating and costly as gasoline was well over four dollars a gallon (as we are now in the same situation), but more importantly, ‘time’ was too precious to be wasted in a car.
In the autumn of 2008, in a conversation with our local buying club organizer Renee Terese Plasky I expressed we should take it into our own hands to start a grocery store. She enthusiastically agreed. As Malcolm Gladwell, termed it, that was my “tipping point.” I started researching the grocery industry and what I soon discovered was that there was a very successful small grocer in San Diego carrying solely organic, local foods with annual sales in excess of $15 million! Interestingly their business-model was based on community-ownership, otherwise known as a co-op.
In spring of 2009, I approached Gary Headrick of San Clemente Green with the idea. Gary embraced the concept and facilitated our first meeting at Surfrider Foundation’s national headquarters. Thirty people attended that meeting, and all wanted the same real foods my family wanted – organic, locally sourced, sustainable, MSG-free, non-genetically modified, grass-fed meat, and raw dairy. I was not alone!
The experience spurred me on to hold more community meetings in 2009 and 2010, with each one reaffirming my original vision. From those meetings a few dozen selfless individuals stepped forward and on September 17, 2010, we formed the Project Management Committee. Soon this Committee evolved to include Steering, Marketing, Business Operations and Project Development Committees, meeting 2 to 3 nights per week.
What we have accomplished is the foundation of our business – a plan, financials, policies, procedures, educational materials and most importantly a common vision – a grocery store, a community-gathering place and a stronger local economy.
I am still amazed as this started as just a thought, casually verbalized to a few and now is becoming a reality. It just shows that real positive change starts with our families, friends and neighbors – our Community.
Look for more updates on our progress and opportunities to help us succeed. All are truly welcomed. Join us!