Around Amherst: Drive for food co-op grows toward 1,000-member goal


Staff Writer

Published: 03-02-2023 6:09 PM

AMHERST — A long-planned effort to bring a cooperative grocery store to town remains in the planning stages, with 900 member-owners already signed up.

To get to the next stage of development, and the 1,000 member-owner plateau, the Common Share Food Co-op is in the midst of holding community listening sessions, with the next one set for Wednesday, March 8, and the final one April 12, both from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Unitarian Meetinghouse, 121 North Pleasant St.

The meetings aim to get opinions about what people want from a new grocery store and community space, as well as to meet other member-owners and those interested in joining. Food and refreshments will be served.

it will have a welcoming environment.

“The next stage of development involves confirming a site, launching a capital campaign, and working out the details of the look/feel and stocked items of the store,” Kassoy wrote in an email.

The listening sessions will focus on whether the store should be like a Whole Foods or a Big Y, the items it should have, and the nature of the community “third space” and what it might be used for, such as technology, whiteboards and catering.

Police officers applauded

Seven Amherst police officers are earning letters of merit related to responses they made in both 2020 and 2021, which included arresting a man brandishing a pistol, coming to the aid of a man in cardiac arrest and assisting a suicidal person.

The department recently announced the awards on its Facebook page, with the letters of merit for “exceptional and professional service to the Amherst Police Department and to the town of Amherst.”

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Patrol Officers Tyler Martins and Joseph Worthley earned their awards for a Sept. 11, 2021 incident on Nutting Avenue in which a gun may have been discharged. “The multiple responding officers were able to safely and effectively gain control of a very chaotic and complex scene,” their letter of merit states, noting that they soon after identified and arrested the suspect.

Patrol Officers Felipe Feliciano and Kasey Nagle earned their awards for a Dec. 21, 2020 medical incident in which Bruce Cuddy went into cardiac arrest. They performed CPR until paramedics arrived.

Cuddy survived and, last holiday season, came to the police station to thank the officers again on the second anniversary of his medical episode.

Sgt. Jesus Arocho and patrol Officers Matthew Frydryk and Scott Soverino got their awards for the April 15, 2020 incident in which a man with a lacerated foot barricaded himself in a bathroom in South Amherst, impaling himself in the chest with a knife. They were able to breach the door, subdued the man and got him to a hospital.

Farm transition

As the owners of Simple Gifts Farm since 2006 look to sell, they have started a $50,000 GoFundMe effort to get through the next growing season.

Jeremy Barker-Plotkin created the fundraiser to supplement the other revenues from Community Supported Agriculture shares and the Simple Gifts Farm Store, until a transaction with new owners is complete.

“We came to North Amherst 17 years ago, with a goal of creating a thriving community farm,” Barker-Plotkin wrote of his partnership with David Tepfer. “We have largely succeeded in that goal, and it has been a magic time in our lives. The institution that we have built has been constructed with a generous dose of community support.”

Barker-Plotkin wrote that the money will keep vegetables growing until the transition is done.

Author talk

Thomas E. Johnson Jr. discusses his book “Common Place: The Public Library, Civil Society, and American Values” in the hall of the Munson Memorial Library in South Amherst Saturday at 11 a.m.

Munson served as one of the case studies in his book, and is lone branch library in his research.

Live butterflies

The Butterfly Conservatory of Deerfield will visit the Amherst Woman’s Club, 35 Triangle St., Monday at 1:30 pm.

A talk will accompany the live butterflies. To reserve a seat at the free event, call 549-0270 or go to

Leverett Village Co-op

A version of March Madness that doesn’t have to do with college basketball is coming to the Leverett Village Co-op throughout the month,with games, giveaways, samples and chances to win prizes at the 180 Rattlesnake Gutter Road store.

Each week will feature a different raffle basket filled with co-op goodies and items donated by local businesses. The co-op is open daily.

Staff Writer Scott Merzbach can be reached at ]]>