Catonsville Cooperative Market to hold teach-in

The Catonsville Cooperative Market is hosting its first community "Teach-In" Saturday, Oct. 5, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Catonsville Presbyterian Church, 1400 Frederick Road.

Catonsville residents are invited to learn about how to open, and the benefits of owning, a community cooperative market.

"It's a supermarket, but it's a supermarket that's owned by the community, not by a company that's based in the middle of America," said Holly Leon-Lierman, co-president of the market's steering committee.

Leon-Lierman said the Catonsville Cooperative Market currently has a buying club whose members can order nonperishable food and home items from local vendors.

But there is a desire to expand its membership and eventually open a storefront in Catonsville.

"We're looking to grow the number of people who are doing buying with us and also grow the number of vendors working with us," Leon-Lierman, a Catonsville resident said.

"Our vision is to have a storefront owned by the community," she said. "Because it's a community business venture, it's not something that happens overnight.

"When we do have a storefront, the idea is to sell as many products as possible that are coming from local farms: local produce, dairy, meat," Leon-Lierman said. "Also, there's an emphasis on sourcing products that are natural and environmentally friendly."

In an e-mail, Leon-Lierman listed seven principles of owning a cooperative market:

• voluntary and open membership,

• democratic member control,

• member economic participation,

• autonomy and independence,

• education, training and information,

• cooperation among co-ops

• concern for community.

These are the pillars upon which the current buying group was formed and will stick to in future endeavors, she said.

Saturday's event will feature speakers from Maryland's only other food cooperatives: The Common Market in Frederick and the Takoma Park Silver Spring Co-op.

Atwater's bakery will provide food for the event and will have a representative speak as well.

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