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Rattlesnake Gutter Festival

Thursday, Sept 10, 2020


Karen Traub, Co-op Board member, Festival coordinator:
Samuel Black, Co-op Board president:

Rattlesnake Gutter Festival to raise funds for Village Co-op, virtually

Join the fun and support a local institution!

Streaming live from the Leverett Village Co-op on Friday September 25, the first ever Rattlesnake Gutter Festival will be a fundraising telethon for the grocery store and cafe featuring a silent auction, local entertainment, virtual tours, and a membership drive. The volunteer-driven festival will be a celebration of local arts, culture, and sustainability, with all proceeds going towards the Village Co-op’s revitalization.
“The activities committee was planning a party to celebrate our members, donors and volunteers keeping the Co-op open while slowly paying down our debts, but then the pandemic hit and the event was cancelled,” said festival organizer and board member Karen Traub. “When we got an anonymous challenge pledge of $7,500, a live streamed event seemed like the perfect cross between a festival and a telethon. And voila, the Rattlesnake Gutter Festival was born.”
This virtual event will feature live blues music by the Wildcat O’Halloran Band, Boys of the Landfill, the Wendell Warriors drum circle, flutist Laura Botkin and a performance by the belly dancing group Crescent Dancers. Special guests will join us throughout the day including Dean Cycon of the fair-trade coffee company Dean’s Beans, and the local documentary filmmaker Steve Alves to talk about building healthy local economies and what makes Franklin county special.
"The Leverett Village Co-op, like food co-ops across the country, are of critical importance now more than ever,” Alves said. “Our consolidated industrialized food system has revealed the terrible vulnerabilities of ‘efficiencies’ during the pandemic where farmers have been forced to destroy livestock and produce because they are unable to get it to market. A diversity of local and regional suppliers is what's needed in a crisis. This is what food co-op like the Leverett Co-op are about along with other benefits to their members.”
Throughout the festival, and in the days preceding, the public can bid on dozens of items and services generously donated by members of the community. Original artwork, a private Zoom cooking class, landscaping services by Grass Roots, an acupuncture session, a trucking excursion to the Leverett dump, homemade scarves and a snake phobia desensitization Zoom experience are just a handful of the items available for bidding.  
The silent auction will begin online on September 21 at 8:00 a.m., then a live auction will happen during the telethon between 4:00 and 6:00 p.m. A complete list of auction items will be available on the Village Co-op’s website, where anyone can place their bid:
The Village Co-op Farm Tour [SR1] Series will showcase the wonderful landscape of the Leverett area and feature interviews with some of our local food suppliers and conservationists. Look out for interviews with the owners of Diemand Farm and Apex Orchards as they talk about their role in the local food economy, then join us for a tour of the state’s largest privately owned conservation restricted land, the Paul C. Jones Working Forest. An expert gardener, Jono Neiger of the Regenerative Design Group, will even take us for a virtual tour of the permaculture garden and fruit trees behind the Village Co-op.
“Anyone who’s been to the charming little store at the foot of Rattlesnake Gutter for groceries, coffee, beer or wine, a scone, breakfast, lunch or pizza understands what we refer to as ‘Co-op Magic’ – it’s so much more than a grocery store, the Village Coop is democracy in action,” Traub said. “Co-ops are for people, not profit.”
The Village Co-op is striving to match a generous anonymous challenge pledge of $7,500 in order to pay down debt. With your help the store can balance the books and lower the cost of shopping local for everyone. In the last six months we have closed the gap on a near $200,000 deficit, installed new refrigerators and freezers, and made needed repairs all while weathering the effects of a pandemic. With support from the community, the Leverett Village Co-op will remain a thriving and sustainable business for many years to come.
“We have begun a search for a full-time general manager to lead the next phase of co-op development, and our next challenge is to increase our revenue by 50% to offset staff costs.” said board president Samuel Black. “Debts to local businesses and larger scale food suppliers are paid off and other debts have been consolidated and will be paid off as becomes necessary. The Co-op is in good shape thanks to community donations and loans, a forgivable Payroll Protection Program Loan, a 30-year low fixed-interest Emergency Injury and Disaster Loan, and support from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Food Security Infrastructure Protection Program.”
Direct donations to the Village Co-op can be made online, in person or over the phone during the telethon. And don’t forget dinner – Friday nights are pizza night!
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Village Co-op Events:


Amherst Chamber of Commerce creates, maintains and promotes a vital, thriving business climate throughout the Amherst area to initiate and support civic, educational, recreational and economic well-being.
Maple Mama is a Wendell-based organic beverage company founded in 2015. Owners Joe Laur and Sarah Schley have promised variety pack of their fruit-flavored seltzers to anyone who donates $5 or more to the store, and a case of each flavor to anyone who donates at least $100.
Dean’s Beans is an award-winning social change organization using high-quality specialty coffee as a vehicle for progressive change throughout the coffeelands of Asia, Africa and the Americas.

Dragonfly Designs has sold handmade aromatherapy pillows, beaded ornaments, tote bags and other goods in western Massachusetts since 2004.
Montague Community Television is the public access provider for Montague, Gill and Erving, making the tools of modern, electronic mass communication easy and convenient to access and use.

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