River Valley Market in Northampton, MA  announced the award at their Strawberry Ice Cream Social on June 17th.to help kick off the summer growing season. 

In honor of long-time River Valley Market member-owner Austin Miller, who passed away last October, River Valley Market renamed their Co-op Hero Awards the "Austin Miller Co-op Hero Awards." A lasting tribute to a person who was instrumental in its success.

CFNE is being honoreed because it was felt  that they want to acknowledge resources like CFNE that help co-ops get off the ground. It is felt that, given the challenges that RVM faced, it was important to honor CFNE.  


The Cooperative Fund of the Northeast (www.coopfund.coop) was founded by food co-ops in 1975 to provide lending services to cooperative enterprises that were not well understood or supported by conventional lenders.  This year, the Cooperative Fund is celebrating 35 years growing co-ops and community organizations here in the valley and across our region.  Over that time, the Co-op Fund has provided over $19 million in loans to more than 450 co-ops and community organizations.

Last year, the first year the awards were given, our Co-op Hero Award winners were 1) Member-Owner: Austin Miller, 2) Local Business Partner: Greenfield’s Market, and 3) Local Vendor: Bart’s Homemade Ice Cream. Join us now in nominating a new batch of co-op heros for the 2010 awards!
The Austin Miller Co-op Hero Awards have been created by River Valley Market to recognize: 1) an individual, 2) a non-profit organization and 3) a business in the Pioneer Valley that strive to support and strengthen cooperative values and the cooperative principal of Support for Community. Cooperatives are based on the values of working together to create self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity, and solidarity. In the tradition of their founders, cooperative member-owners believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility, and caring for others.

A little about Austin Miller: He was awarded the first annual Co-op Hero Award during our cooperative’s celebration of the first birthday of our store on April 30th, 2009 for extraordinary support from a co-op member-owner. Austin tirelessly and passionately championed the dreams of our membership for a locally grown food co-op in Northampton.
Austin was a founding co-op member-owner whose career was devoted to serving people in Western Massachusetts by supporting community development projects that provided low income housing, shelter for victims of domestic violence, and food for the hungry. Austin specialized in securing financing for projects that directly benefitted people in need and strengthened our communities. Austin was the financial consultant who secured the financing agreements between River Valley Market and the banks that provided the mortgage for our co-op start-up project in Northampton.
Our community lost a good friend when Austin passed away on October 30th, 2009. In honor of his efforts on behalf of all of us, River Valley Market’s Board of Directors will make a donation in the name of Austin Miller and this year’s three Austin Miller Co-op Hero Award winners. The donations will go to one of the causes that Austin actively supported, this year’s donation will go to the food bank.