2013-05 LMC Board Minutes

La Montanita Food Cooperative

Board of Directors Meeting Minutes

May 21, 2013 – 5:30 pm

Board Present: Martha Whitman, Marshall Kovitz, Roger Eldridge, Ariana Marchello, Lisa Banwarth-Kuhn, Kristy Decker, Jake Garrity, Betsy VanLeit, Jessica Rowland (Advisory member)

Also Present: Terry Bowing (General Manager), Deborah Good (admin assistant), Jennifer Cornish (facilitator), Sarah Skenazy (board research assistant), Michelle Franklin (CDC Manager), John Mulle (Valley STL), Sharret Rose (Admin), Jeannie Han and Harry Snow (co-op members), Michael Jensen (Amigos Bravos, guest speaker)

Board Not Present: Susan McAllister

The meeting started at 5:33 p.m. at the Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Albuquerque.  Jennifer Cornish facilitated and Deborah Good took notes.

  1. General Welcome and Introductions
  1. Approve the Agenda

Issues Raised: Ariana moves and Roger seconds to approve the agenda.

Actions Taken:  The agenda is approved unanimously.

Actions Required:  None

  1. Member Comments

Issues Raised: Ariana reported on two emails, both from Santa Fe and handled by operations:

  1. Board was cc’d. Complaint about size of breakfast burritos.
  2. Complaint about the “no guns in the store” policy.

Two co-op members (members since approx. 2004) came to the meeting to observe but had no comments.

Actions Taken: None

Actions Required: None

  1. Consent Agenda

a. Board Minutes April 2013

b.  Member Engagement Committee Minutes – April 22

c.  Finance Committee Minutes – April 24

d.  Policy Proposal – Board Participation Conduct – Marshall

Issues Raised: Betsy moves and Marshall seconds to approve the consent agenda.

Actions Taken: Passes unanimously

Actions Required: Deborah will edit the Policy Manual consistent with the policy proposal, which passed.



  1. Management Monitoring Reports – X2 – Staff Treatment

Issues Raised:

  • Martha moves and Betsy seconds to approve the report.
  • Terry—Staff Treatment
  • This month’s topic for the Management Monitoring Report was the staff survey. We made several changes to the survey this year:
    • It is no longer mandatory.
    • It is shorter.
    • It is online (via Survey Monkey).
  • Since administering it, I (Terry) have seen a survey I like a little better.
  • We achieved a 44% response rate. The mandatory surveys were very unpopular. Next year we can get even more responses by implementing a better process.
  • The policy on the staff survey restricts changes to the survey to enable “survey to survey comparison.” I would like a little more flexibility to change the survey over the next few years until we get it right.
    • Director response: I think we can nuance the policy relatively easily by adding a phrase like “for the most part.”
    • Task: PDC will develop a proposal for slight revision to the policy – for the July meeting.
  • Comments:
  • Comment for the Monitoring Check Sheet: “Overall the results were excellent.”
  • Question: Were there any surprises? Response: A small minority of people felt that the survey was not completely anonymous because it was online. There was nothing we could say to dissuade that belief.
  • Having an on-line survey made it much easier and less time-consuming to gather and analyze the data.
  • One difference: This time we were not able to analyze the data by store. The survey included an optional item allowing respondents to identify their store, but many did not. As a result, the analysis was all done at the organization level and not by store.
  • Question: How much shorter was it? Response: There were 9 questions on the survey, with an optional 10th (to identify their store). There used to be about 20 questions, some of which were repetitive or were included for reasons that are no longer relevant.

Actions Taken: Passes unanimously.

Actions Required: None


  1. Board Study – Water, Drought, and Agriculture in NM and Further Afield

Issues Raised:  See Attached

Actions Taken: None

Actions Required: None

  1. Board Functioning

Issues Raised:

  1. Member Engagement Committee decided to move Annual Meeting from Oct. 19 because CDS is planning an event in Abq. on the same day, Oct. 19, 9-5, at the Hispanic Cultural Center. After discussion, those present select October 12, 2013 as the date for the Annual Meeting. The Member Engagement Committee is thinking about holding the event at the Westside store location.
  2. Marshall has talked to C.E. Pugh, who developed a video and materials for the Board retreat, about making the video and materials available to other co-ops. The Board supports Marshall in pursuing this idea.
  3. Transitions in the Board: Roger (Board treasurer) will not be running for re-election this year. It is proposed (with Roger’s support) that he step down in July and that the board appoint Jessica Rowland in his place until elections in November. There will be discussion and vote at next month’s executive session.
  4. Bean Count results: The board recently conducted surveys at two events.
  • Earth Day Event: Regarding last year’s BOD elections — 30 did vote, 67 did not know about the election, 3 did not want to provide their email addresses, 9 did not have time, 14 did not care.
  • UNM Event: Regarding relationship with co-op – 30 members of the co-op, 30 shop at the store but are not members, 5 aware of co-op but do not shop there, 8 never heard of the co-op.
    1. Martha participated in a Vote-net webinar, based on the science of the Obama campaign. The webinar offered some strategies for encouraging voter participation. Martha will pass this information on to the Elections and Nominations Committee.

Actions Taken: None

Actions Required: None

  1. Administrative Assistant Duties

Issues Raised: See Task List

Actions Taken: None
Actions Required:  None

  1. Meeting evaluation

Issues Raised: Two positive comments on the Board Study:

  1. It was great having a speaker.
  2. The Board Study was well-organized.

Actions Taken: None

Actions Required:  None

  1. Next Meeting Agenda Construction

Issues Raised: Board is to complete the Second Half of B survey by next meeting.

Actions Taken: None

Actions Required:  None

  1. Adjourn regular session


La Montanita Food Co-op

Board of Directors Meeting – May 21, 2013

Topic – Water, Drought, and Agriculture in NM and Further Afield

Led by: Sarah Skenazy

Guest Speaker: Michael Jenson, Amigos Bravos


Goals for group conversation:

  • Increase awareness of water supply/demand issues and their impact on the Southwest.
  • Discuss La Montanita’s role in influencing policies and agricultural practices related to water allocation and use.
  • Explore possible impacts of water trends on La Montanita’s foodshed work.


1. Albuquerque Journal article and embedded 2.5–minute video: http://www.abqjournal.com/main/2013/03/24/news/drought-threatens-hatch-valley-crop.html

2. New Yorker article on water privatization, providing a global context: attached and readable here: http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2002/04/08/020408fa_FACT1

3. Pages 48-51 of DNM Age of Local Foodsheds: http://www.dreamingnewmexico.org/food

Michael Jenson Presentation

Amigos Bravos (www.amigosbravos.org) is a statewide water conservation organization (25 years old, began as a volunteer, community-based organization in Taos). Known for:

  • Innovative use of Clean Water Act and helping communities protect their water
  • Mining and related resource-extraction issues
  • Litigation, including a successful lawsuit against the Bureau of Land Management (although Amigos Bravos also work with the BLM on a regular basis)
  • Other recent successes include winning a lawsuit against the Los Alamos National Lab (and now working with them); bringing otters back into NM; creating pressure for government to monitor pharmaceuticals in drinking water

Key ideas in Jenson’s presentation:

1. Our watershed is connected with others in the region.

  • Late last year, a judge ruled that more water was needed in the Sacramento Delta to support ecosystem functioning. Impact: If Los Angeles could not deal with the resulting shortfall of water, CA could put a call on upper Colorado water (allowed by Colorado River Compact) through 3 tunnels from three tributaries of the San Juan River. The San Juan River ultimately feeds the Rio Grande. Our watersheds are connected. Our watershed can be affected by a state court decision in California.

2. Western populations are growing. Demand is now greater than supply for water.

  • The Rio Grande is projected to lose 9-20% of its flow.
  • San Juan-Chama Water – There is going to be less and less of it as NM is going to need more and more of it.

3. The current drought is severe.

  • The long-term prognosis (among most climatoligists) is that the changes in our climate reflect a return to previous climate patterns, or the impact climate change, or both.
  • A new study looking at this current drought demonstrates that this is the most severe drought for 500-1000 years.

4. Some are adopting new practices in response to the lack of water.

  • Acequia associations are adapting, innovating, and increasing efficiency in order to survive this drought.
  • Some farmers are using dry farming techniques, which means relying on rainfall rather than irrigation, building soil, planting crops farther apart, growing early-producing varieties, and adapting to shifting weather patterns. It can mean changing the crops the farmers are growing. Takes a lot of time, money, and risk.
  • Most of southern New Mexico could do dry farming. The benefits are cost savings and an improved quality of fruits, vegetables, or wine in comparison to crops that are planted closer to each other and harvested more intensively.

5. What does this mean for La Montanita?

  • This can be an opportunity for the co-op to work with its suppliers to alleviate some of the risk that they take when they undertake strategies to adapt to less water. This would mean educating customers about why dry farming produce costs more (dry farming = produce less per acre, higher prices, but quality is higher), or sharing info with suppliers that will make them more efficient not only now but in wetter years (i.e., provide examples, incentives, encouragement).
  • Use the newsletter to educate: The upcoming Co-op newsletter has an article on this issue with links to other good information.



Key themes in discussion:

1. Dry farming techniques among Co-op suppliers

  • I don’t think we are in a position to educate farmers; they could educate us. Some are not growing whole sections of crops. The price of chile is up 50 cents/pound due to the cost of the pumping. Urban growers are doing a lot of drip and row cover. They are the innovators in water conservation. Some of these techniques are harder to implement at the large scale.
  • Is there any evidence that dry farming works better on organic farms? Jenson:  Dry farming is more successful if soil is in really good shape, so to the extent that organic farming is focused on soil quality, yes.

2. Urban vs. agricultural water use

  • Farming in NM has senior water rights. But as more and more non-farmers move to NM (Albuquerque/urban areas), how will that affect water usage and rights?
  • Jenson: Agriculture here, like most regions (w some variation) uses about 80% of water. The river here functions more like a delta because of all the ditches and diversions, which slows down the water, but provides habitat (the bosque) and agriculture. Forcibly taking water away from agriculture will brown out the valley and in the long term, I think, hurt the water situation.
  • Assuming drought continues, it seems as though we may reach a point where the urban-vs-agriculture competition gets more serious. Have you looked at how that might play out and at how one might advocate more for agriculture surviving as opposed to golf courses and big lawns?
  • Jenson: There is no excuse for green golf courses here. They should be built like they are in Scotland, with greens and a lot of rough terrain in between. We should use artificial turf for athletic fields. This is a very political issue, and there are numerous lawsuits over water rights. People expect there will be more litigation as the drought continues. The one article talked about moving from fixed water rights to more flexibility.
  • Jenson: Any new development in the state has to prove only a 40-year water supply. This is an excuse to grow toward whatever that limit is. The Water Utility Authority says they can support 900,000 people, which is 50% more than they serve now, but for that to work, our average water use would have to decrease.

3. Inter-state water issues

  • Jenson: Lower basin states are going to exhaust all reasonable measures for acquiring water and put a call on upper basin states which are themselves short on water.
  • Jenson: There is a lot of talk this year about re-doing the Rio Grande Compact. Currently, New Mexico has to deliver a significant amount of water to Texas, but the population in NM has grown considerably since the Compact was developed.

4. Water policy

  • One of our discussion questions asked about pressure points where La Montanita could push. Board study notes in 2009 and 2010 in particular reflect that the board was asking a lot about la montanita’s role in influencing policy. Could we go lobby, speak to legislature, etc.
  • Jenson: We have been in a State 1 drought category since March. That doesn’t require anything mandatory in terms of changing behaviors and practices.
  • There is more messaging related to water conservation in Santa Fe.
  • Where does it make the most sense to put the most pressure? Jenson: Everywhere. Things can be done to make agriculture more efficient – everything from community ditches to big laterals and drains. At some point, the compact has to be re-negotiated because of the growth in NM since it was enacted.
  • Jenson: Litigation is not the best way to get people to talk to each other. I’ve been trying to advocate stepping back and thinking outside boxes, and trying to get everyone at a new table to talk about the issues.
  • What is the highest level governmental body in New Mexico on water issues? Jenson: The Office of the State Engineer and the Interstate Stream Commission, which regulates the compacts and water transfers into and out of the state.
  • Is the State Engineer taking any kind of role? Jenson: The office is not very transparent. Recent state engineers have not been popular. The current one (Scott Verhines) has said some things like “rain water harvesting is okay.” Then there’s the legislature. They can pass laws to regulate domestic wells, a very sensitive issue.

Note Cards

Sarah passed out note cards and asked those present to respond to 2 questions:

  1. What is one thing you will take away from today’s study that is important to the co-op?
  2. What is one question you have leaving the study today?


  1. Our suppliers use water to grow crops and we can work with them to support best practices and work with our customers/members to understand how this affects the price of food. Education is key.
  2. How do we communicate about such complex systems concisely in a way that people can grasp?
  1. Takeaway: We are in a ten-year drought, last three years have been comparable to 500 years ago.
  2. How do we support local farmers and larger suppliers ie Hatch chile farmers in times of drought, supply limitations, economic impact, price measures?
  1. We’ve got to target agricultural water use if it’s 80% of total state usage. There needs to be a balance between the local food sector (some using traditional ag/water practices) with declining water availability in New Mexico.
  2. How do we get the public (residential users), plus commerce and industry to start practicing water conservation and efficiency in NM? How can we turn this into an issue that folks are interested in?
  1. Water conservation will impact the way we buy, sell, and achiever our end of agriculture.
  2. What are other resources to learn more?
  1. Our suppliers use water to grow crops and we can work with them to support best practices and work with our customers/members to understand how this effects the prices of foods—education is going to be key.
  2. How do we communicate about such complex systems concisely in a way that people can grasp?
  1. Water in New Mexico will impact produce, cheese, meat etc. Therefore, we should be thinking of its eventual impact.
  2. How is fracking impacting ground water in NM?
  1. We are going to have to change—I wish it could be graceful and planned.
  2. Can New Mexico be a gigantic demonstration project for the rest of the world regarding resolution of water disputes, conservation, innovation, etc?
  1. Water is complex. Solving water problems will require a complex suite of solutions, innovation, adaptation, and risk taking.
  2. What is LM best leveraged to do with our resources?
  1. Water is central to our ends, especially agriculture, but all others as well.
  2. How can La Montanita influence intelligent water management in our foodshed?
  1. Food depends on water. Water supply is decreasing. Something’s got to give. My prime candidate: lifestyle.
  2. Would a new New Mexico state cabinet level Secretary of Water and Watersheds empower the now ineffectual state engineer to take a leadership role in creating a response to drought?
  1. The Co-op should encourage education on water issues in N.M.
  2. Is the Co-op going to take a stand on water issues?
  1. Water touches all of us and not only effects our foodshed but environment that we live in and our life stages.
  2. How can the Co-op create a program to inspire people to conserve?
  1. How do we teach people to “spread the pain” ie to conserve water in industry, agriculture, and urban use while leaving some water in the river?
  2. How do we get more conservation practice? What politically must happen?