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Not for Profit: Gifft Hill Organic Co-Op

Aug. 3, 2007 — The fledgling Gifft Hill Organic Co-Op is growing on the bottom level of Gifft Hill School's Upper School campus.
"Lot's of people want to eat healthy," Melanie Love says.
Love and her husband, Mo, organized the co-op as an offshoot of their fledgling Gifft Hill Organic store in the same location. Mo Love also cooks healthy meals during the school year for the Gifft Hill School students.
So far the co-op has 15 members, but others have expressed interest, Love says.
There is no charge to join, and food can be picked up at the store during the summer from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and during the school year from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.
For now the co-op is limiting itself to foods that don't need refrigeration, because Gifft Hill Organics doesn't have sufficient cold-storage facilities. The list includes cereals, flours, grains, nuts and seeds, dried fruits, salad dressings and much more. The co-op offers a variety of brands.
However, Love says the co-op hopes to bring in fresh fruit from Dominica to meet a big need for its members. In addition to the wholesale price paid by co-op members, it adds 33 percent for shipping.
Everything comes in large quantities, but Love says co-op members can share orders or sell what they don't need to her husband for use at the school.
The co-op just placed its first order after holding an initial meeting on July 13, Love says. She and a small band of volunteers will sort the order for storage at Gifft Hill Organics until members pick it up.
While the main goal is to provide healthy food for its members, membership also provides an opportunity for residents to meet like-minded people at what she hopes will become monthly potlucks, Love says.
"If everyone around you is doing something healthy, it lifts you up," she says.
The members are already getting to know each other at Monday-night movies that include popcorn sprinkled with maca powder. It's a flavoring that adds a buttery taste with sweet and salty accents.
"It tastes like Kettle Corn," Rea Roberts says. She plans to join the co-op.
"I don't think it's something that's being offered on St. John," Roberts says, adding that co-op membership might encourage people to think about the source of their food. Fostering a sense of community is just as important as access to healthy foods, she says.
Co-op member Icy McClain says she found it difficult and expensive to trek off to St. Thomas to buy organic foods.
"Voila, you just show up and the products appear a couple of weeks later," she says.
Katie Zaytoun, another co-op member, also spoke about the difficulty and expense of getting organic foods on St. John.
"If this works, it will be a really great thing," she says.
The co-op doesn’t have a phone yet, but can be reached by email.
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