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Montana Co-op celebrates grand opening of store

POLSON — Montana Co-op sells local, fresh food and goods from more than 100 farmers and producers to its members from the comfort of their homes at www.montanacoop.com, or by using order blanks.

After a month of volunteers painting, cleaning and refurbishing the facility 401 Main Street, Polson, the Montana Co-op received its occupancy permit and will hold a grand-opening open house on Nov. 14 from 6 to 10 p.m. with a ribbon cutting at 6 p.m. with Polson Mayor Heather Knutson. Presentations by co-op staff follow, with entertainment and a chance to talk to farmers and producers.  

The Co-op is going well, according to Jason Moore, the force behind the organization, although people aren’t used to ordering food online. He’d like to see more members and existing members using recurring orders for staples, such as eggs, cheese and milk. 

Fresh is a co-op requisite. According to their website, “We’re requesting from local vegetable producers that they harvest their sold orders on Thursday morning, for delivery later that day to the customer; your milk, yogurt, and butter from Kalispell Kreamery is prepared on Wednesday, and eggs are always fresh off the farm. Everything is as it should be ... local, healthy, fresh, and affordable.”

Categories of products are animals, art, body, food, health, gardening, house, outdoors and trade. 

On the website, Moore said Montanans produce 10 percent of the food they eat while 50 years ago they were producing 70 percent. 

The Polson Heart and Soul project also said people identified a community center as a need in the town, so the co-op is using its Polson location for this purpose as well as a food hub and a Made In Montana retail store. 

An offshoot is the Kid’s Co-op for young people ages 13 to 25. They buy into it with a $20 lifetime membership, elect their own board of directors and set up their own policies on how to get together and get along. Montana Co-op members and community leaders provide mentorship, Moore said.

The Kid’s Coop recently received a grant from the Greater Polson Community Foundation to make and sell salsa. They are also selling bundles of recycled wood from Western Bee.

The young entrepreneurs are also building gift baskets using local products. They even made a bike rack from a futon frame headed for the Lake County Landfill.

The kids also offer services such as lawn care, snow shoveling and junk removal. They’re planning a yard sale fundraiser, too, all with a mentor’s help overseeing the project. 

Moore said the Montana Co-op members want to give them real life skills so they can decide on something they really want to do.

At the community center, Native dance classes will be taught by Naomi Billedeaux for ladies and girls, and by Rodney First Strike for men and boys. Other classes include piano, percussion, guitar, computer; contact and project management and marketing will be available, too. 

Ken Camel will be teaching “the art of boxing, the fundamentals of the sport,” he said.

It will be no-contact, Camel said, working with bags, learning technique. He has heavy bags and a couple of speed bags and will work on conditioning.

He’ll focus on the holistic experience — mental, physical, spiritual and emotional — of being an athlete.

Hoping to do something about “the scourge of drugs and reduce substance abuse,” Camel hopes boxing might turn young people onto the right path. 

Since many girls are interested in the sport, girls, Camel offers the Pink Gloves Boxing Team. 

Camel may even offer an adult class, since he’s had many inquiries about boxing conditioning. 

Classes should start in about two weeks. Moore said there will be a charge, but Kids Co-op members may use trade dollars if they want to take a class but can’t afford it. 

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