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Want to join a green market co-op?

Residents near Mountain Island Lake hope one day to shop for local produce, baked goods and cheese in downtown Mount Holly.

Many also would be part owners of the proposed green market cooperative, along with others from northwestern Mecklenburg County and neighboring areas.

The Mount Holly Community Development Foundation will present details about the green market co-op plan at a meeting Aug. 19.

“It just gives people the option for healthier living,” said Edna Chirico, a member of the Mountain Island Neighborhood Organization and chair of the foundation's economic development committee.

Organizers envision a co-op that would draw shoppers from communities up to 10 to 15 miles away. They hope to open the co-op in late 2009.

It would be a store like the successful Weaver Street Market in Carrboro, a town of fewer than 17,000 adjoining Chapel Hill.

That community-owned grocery store is known for organic and artisan products, many of them produced locally. Weaver Street Market's members created the market to support their community's commercial center, keep profits close to home and use local resources to meet local needs. They also want the market to work in harmony with the environment.

Prospective members here say a location on Mount Holly's Main Street could help make the co-op a success, Chirico said.

“People gravitate to a small-town main street,” Chirico said. “That's a very walkable location. It can become a wonderful public gathering place. They have bands downtown. They have festivals. We hope other local shops will pop up around it.”

Members would own the Mount Holly co-op. Organizers expect memberships to cost $100 to $150. Members likely would vote on a governing board and would earn a percentage of the profits once the co-op became profitable.

A consultant is scheduled to visit next month for a financial analysis. That will help determine how many members will be needed to support a co-op and how much money the group will need to raise for startup costs.

“We're not reinventing the wheel,” Chirico said. “We're using the experts who've done this in other parts of the country.”

At the meeting next week, planners hope to identify more volunteers to serve on the Mount Holly Green Market Co-op Task Force's committees and give the planning efforts a boost.

Planning and building momentum for the market is expected to take about two years.

“We really want people to be actively involved. It has to be a community effort.”