2024 Election for your

Board of Directors

The Board of Directors serves a critical role in overseeing and guiding our Co-op. Directors attend board meetings and the meetings of at least one committee. Three positions on the Board, each for three-year terms, become available at every annual election.

The year, we have 3 incumbent candidates: Rachel Berry, Richard Drace and Mark Fenton. All candidates’ responses are unedited. We will have an uncontested vote for 2024, meaning all 3 candidates are incumbent Board members. This year, your vote will be ‘YES’ or ‘NO’ for the full ballot. You can vote online with a valid email address. We’ll donate $2 to Bear Yuba Land Trust for each vote cast. Ballots open 6am, May 1, and close 5pm, May 15.

Join us Tuesday, May 28th at 7pm for our Annual Owner Business Meeting at our Auburn Store. Register here to attend.

Your 2024 candidates are…


Rachel Berry

Incumbent Board Director

What do you love about BriarPatch?

I love the BPFC because it’s a shining example of how a business can thrive financially and at the same time be in service to the community. Our co-op provides services that directly impact our health and wellbeing: providing access to high quality, healthy food with a focus on local and organic; helping grow local food security by supporting local farmers; donating healthy food to those in need; and educating people to make healthier food choices. Our co-op contributes to environmental stewardship through prioritizing clean energy and reducing/reusing/recycling materials, and with its priority on local, it keeps millions of dollars circulating through our local and regional economy instead of outsourcing those products from faraway places. I can’t think of any other local business that does this much to contribute to community well-being.

Why are you running for the BriarPatch Food Co-op Board?

I’ve benefited from BriarPatch Food
Co-op since I moved to Nevada County in 2009. The strength of the local food movement is one of the reasons my family moved to this to this area, and the cooperative principals are something I strongly believe in. When I was encouraged to run for the board in 2018, I felt good about this opportunity to take part in contributing to the BriarPatch’s success, and gratefully I was elected by our owners.
I am excited to run for my third term, having taken on more responsibility on the board. As Vice President and member of the finance committee, I have deepened my commitment and experience as a board member and am excited to contribute to the future vision of the cooperative as we continue to grow and thrive.

Why will you make a good Board Director?

For nearly 15 years, I worked as advocate in the local food and farm movement, primarily through Sierra Harvest, where I have gained a deeper understanding of it’s strengths and challenges. I draw on my professional experiences managing budgets and assessing outcomes in community health programs. I am grateful for life experiences that continue to teach me how to cultivate compassion, inclusion and tolerance for my own discomfort in working with others to find mutual ground.
My experience on the board has taught me that having a deep commitment to the health and resiliency of our community, bringing my focused attention and reflection on monthly board reports, and a holding a vision for what is possible for BPFC are some of the best ways I can serve our cooperative, and I hope to continue to have that privilege.

What Qualifications Do You Have for This Role?

My graduate education in health psychology and public health was focused on strategies for healthier living.  I also lived and worked at the Regenerative Design Institute for four years, where I learned from some of the leading innovators in regenerative living systems. I’ve worked in non-profit management since 2004, which has allowed me to sharpen my skills at strategic planning, assessing, and evaluating impact and outcomes, and working collaboratively towards common goals for community benefit. 

Shortly after I moved to Nevada County in 2009, I started working for organizations that support local agriculture and access to fresh local food. These experiences have helped me understand the challenges that farmers (and eaters!) are faced with in terms of participating in a local food economy and have given me some insight into the bigger levers of change that are needed to support a thriving local food system. I have worked in I have previously served the boards for health and wellness-oriented non-profits, and have served on the BriarPatch board since 2018, most currently as the Vice President. Having trained with Alana, our board President, for two years, my intention is to serve in that role as she rolls out of her position.


Richard Drace

Incumbent Board Director

What do you love about BriarPatch?

Of the many things I love about our co-op, the first that comes to mind is the feeling of belonging – the co-op belongs to all of us owners, and we belong to an entity that is much more than just two great grocery stores. Whenever I’m in the store, I feel a vibe that seems to say, “We’re all in this together.” The Co-op helps us foster our good health in the products we buy, and our community’s good health in our support for local farms and local organizations that do good work. I also love the co-operative model that gives each of us an equal stake in the way we run our business.

Why are you running for the BriarPatch Food Co-op Board?

I’m proud of my years of service on the Board, and I want to continue to offer whatever I can to keep this ship sailing along. I’m proud to have played a part in some of our accomplishments over the years, such as our round-up program, our support for Sierra Harvest and other well-intentioned organizations, and our livable wage commitment. I feel we have so much opportunity in front of us as we encourage our new Auburn store toward success. I’ve enjoyed working with an outstanding group of fellow directors and management, and I hope to continue to be part of the group.

Why will you make a good Board Director?

I’ve served in a number of capacities in my twelve years on the Board — as Board President; as Board Vice–President; and as Chair of Owner Engagement and Board Development committees. I’m very familiar with our Policy Governance model, and I feel I co-operate well with other directors and management. I believe our Board should continue to be diverse in age to represent all of our co-op membership, including those of us who are enjoying our “mature” years.

What Qualifications Do You Have for This Role?

Current Occupation – Retired 

Educational background 

  • Bachelor of Arts in Honors Humanities, Stanford University 
  • Master of Arts in Religion, Yale University 
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Interdisciplinary Humanities, Syracuse University 

Business Experience 

  • Owner – Owner Builder Summer Camp (teaching hands-on building skills) 
  • Owner – Richard Lee Drace Residential Design 
  • Founder and Executive Director – Common Ground Communities (A local self-help affordable housing development company) 
  • Prior board/community leadership experience 
  • Founding Board President – Nevada City Schools Foundation 
  • Board Vice President – Gold Country Piano Institute

Mark Fenton

Incumbent Board Director

What do you love about BriarPatch?

I love that:

We are a cooperative, with open membership and democratic control

We are a locally-owned business 

We operate under the concept of a “triple bottom line,” measuring our success by our impact in financial, social and environmental areas.

We are making good progress toward our goal of 100% renewable energy

We support local non-profits

We have the best produce department anywhere. I am especially proud of the way we have supported our local organic farmers, providing them with a reliable market for their crops and working with Farmlink to guarantee and provide loans for them.   

We have a wonderful management and staff, and we are able to provide them with good wages and a great benefit package.

And finally, I love that we are a community hub.  I always look forward to shopping at BriarPatch and visiting with friends and staff. 

Why are you running for the BriarPatch Food Co-op Board?

During last 15 years Briarpatch has grown phenomenally and has become one of the largest and most successful Co-ops in the nation.

During that time, I have served on the Board and have been a part of all the decisions that have shaped our success. including hiring Chris as General Manager, buying our building, revising our bylaws and Policies, adopting Policy Governance and opening the second store in Auburn.

I am running for another term on the Board because now that we have opened our second store, it is critically important that we have continuity on the Board, particularly in the financial area as we work to make the Auburn store a profitable enterprise.

I have been the Co-op Treasurer and Chairman of the Finance Committee for past 10 years and would like the opportunity to continue to help guide Briarpatch into the future.

Why will you make a good Board Director?

I have extensive business experience from having owned and operated a large-scale retail business, Peaceful Valley Farm Supply in the 1990’s. I also have relevant experience and knowledge from having been the General Manager of the Sacramento Natural Food Coop in the 1980’s.
I have been a Board Director and a member of the Finance Committee for the past 14 or 15 years and have been the Treasurer and the Chairman of the Finance Committee for the past 8 years.
In the 15 years that I have been a Briarpatch Board Member, I have attended multiple CCMA conferences, many Board training seminars and Board training workshops.
I feel that my business experience and actual Co-op management experience, along with the many years of being on the Board and Finance committee and the training workshops I have attended make me well equipped to be a good Board Director.

What Qualifications Do You Have for This Role?

I have worked most of my professional life in businesses committed to organic agriculture and the natural foods movement. I was an assistant manager and then the General Manager of the Sacramento Natural Foods Coop from 1976 through 1981. I moved to Grass Valley in 1981 and I worked with Amigo Bob at Peaceful Valley Farm Supply for several years. Ultimately, my wife and I bought the business from Amigo Bob and grew it from a small local operation to a successful large-scale national company. We provided the vision for the company’s growth and oversaw all aspects of its operation, including financial planning and management, purchasing, hiring, staff training, research and development, promotion, catalogue, etc. After we sold Peaceful Valley, I continued to do product   development for the company for about 10 years. I am now retired. 

  • I have been on the Briarpatch Board and a member of the Finance 
  • Committee for about 15 years and have been the Treasurer and Finance Committee Chairman for the last 10 years. 
  • My educational background includes a BA from UCSD, a California 
  • teaching credential and 3 years post-graduate work at UCD. 
  • I joined BriarPatch in 1984, have been a BriarPatch owner for 40 years, and buy 90-95% of my groceries here. 


Tuesday, May 28, 7-8:00pm 

General Manager Chris Maher will present 2023 financials to the Ownership.  Come in person to our Community Room at our Auburn store location or register to attend via Zoom. Owners are welcome to attend any portion of our agenda.


5:30-6pm: Board of Directors meeting.

6-7pm: Snacks, beverages and chit chat with owners and the Board in the Dining Area

7-7:30pm: Business Meeting in the Community Room

Please pre-register to attend.