Shannon O’Donnell, the lead baker at Astoria Co+op, said she’s always loved to bake.
“In high school all my friends would come over and I’d make them biscuits and honey for an after-school snack,” O’Donnell said.
Her passion for baking was perhaps inherited from both her grandmothers, one of whom, Veronica, loved to bake.
“My grandma Evelyn didn’t love it, but she loved that I did, and she would help me with projects,” O’Donnell said. One such project was making truffles for friends on Valentine’s Day. “She thought it was great that I wanted to try it.”
After years of self-taught baking experience, O’Donnell attended a year-long French intensive culinary school. There, she learned valuable skills like mise en place, keeping an organized workspace.
She began working at the co-op deli in January 2020. Starting as a prep cook, she transitioned into her role as the lead baker.
Some of her favorite items to bake at the co-op are the fresh fruit pies and the chocolate chip cookies. She’s also looking forward to baking holiday favorites this fall and winter, such as pumpkin and pecan pies for Thanksgiving and an Italian Christmas bread called panettone.
“I’m glad to be here,” O’Donnell said. “I love the bakery.”
In her spare time, she enjoys going for hikes and exploring the area with her dog, Lula. Gnat Creek, Ecola State Park and Saddle Mountain are some of her favorite hiking destinations.
She also recently enjoyed camping in Yachats after a year of not leaving town much during the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
Get 20% off organic potting soil, manure, bark and peat moss while supplies last.
Why should you work on your soil now that we’re going into the fall season? Our floral expert Julie Skopal has your answer.
“Top dressing your garden now will help the plants during the winter and get them off to a great start in the spring. I would recommend steer and chicken manure. I personally use steer manure, which is lower in nitrogen, because you don’t want a big grow right now as we’re going into winter.
Bark is also on sale. Putting bark around plants now will help keep the rain from pounding the soil down. It will be muddy out here, so bark makes a great pathway. Bark will suppress the weeds in the spring.
You can get the sphagnum peat moss for acid-loving plants like your camellias, rhododendrons, azaleas and of course your blueberries.
Everything is 20% off while supplies last so get it now! The amendments work well for the perennials we have here too.”
The co-op bakery does special orders for 6″ and 9″ cakes, including this gluten free vanilla cake with Italian strawberry buttercream. Vegan cakes and a variety of flavors are also available. Call or order online at least 48 hours in advance so it will be ready for your celebration!
Come get some dry-aged ribeye steaks from the co-op!
This steak was dry-aged at the co-op in a 30-day process that makes for extra flavorful, tender, premium steak!
Dan Levens, who works in the co-op’s meat department, said the co-op’s dry ager allows him to control time, temperature and humidity.
“What happens is that the meat will start to dry from the outside, so you get what they call a bark, and it keeps it really moist on the inside,” Levens said. “The whole point of dry aging is that it breaks down a lot of the things that keep the meat together, so it makes it more tender. It concentrates the actual flavor and the fat seals it in.”
Once he brings it out of the dry ager, he peels the layer of bark off, leaving moist, tender meat that he cuts into ribeye steaks.
The dry-aged ribeye steaks are on sale now through the end of September.
In 2017 the co-op launched a capital campaign called Together We Grow. We raised over $2 million through the sale of preferred shares to help fund the completion of our new store. There are still some shares available to any member in good standing that are Oregon residents. We have two projects that are in the works that will require additional capital. First, we aim to install Electric Vehicle chargers in the co-op parking lot. Second, we will purchase a generator for winter storm resilience – we’ll be able to stay open during power outages! Additionally, if we can sell all of the remaining shares it builds co-op equity and strengthens our business balance sheet. It allows us to continue to invest in our business and increase our positive impact in the region.
The minimum investment is $2,500 and earns a 3% dividend. Investments $10,000 and up earn 4%. We will be paying out our first dividends this October. We think this is a neat opportunity to invest in a local community-owned business – one that you frequent regularly for all your healthy food needs. Please email our General Manager, Matt Stanley, at email@example.com for a prospectus and more information.
An avid gardener, bird watcher and cyclist, Julie Skopal is passionate about plants. She’s been working in the produce department at Astoria Co+op for more than three years.
“I’m proud to work at the co-op,” Julie said. “I love all of my coworkers; my customers keep my day lively.”
She’s been gardening since she could walk, picking flowers to put up on the windowsill in her childhood home when she was a little girl. She received her environmental degree from Sonoma State University. There, she learned that without thriving ecosystems we’ll never have a healthy earth. Organic, healthy living is a good start.
Julie previously worked in native plant and horticultural nurseries. She also did restoration work at Golden Gate National Recreation Area, primarily removing invasive plants like pampas grass and French broom.
“It was hard, wonderful work for such a good cause,” she said.
She and her husband moved from Sonoma County, California to Astoria when her husband got a job with the county. Finding a job at the co-op, Julie decided that the closest thing to working with plants in Astoria was to work in the produce department.
She said she appreciates the beauty of the fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers she works with.
“Everything is unique in its own way, the beautiful colors and textures,” Julie said. “It’s a feast for the eyes and the senses and I really enjoy that.”
The co-op keeps seasonal flowers and plants in stock, so soon Julie will be displaying fall mums. She recently got a big delivery of fall blooming perennials that are attractive to beneficial insects.
“As everything is connected, we would not have the produce and plants that we have without the beneficial insects and pollinators, so we need to keep the outside world as healthy as we try to keep ourselves,” Julie said.
She added she loves getting to witness the seasonal changes, starting with the wonderful produce of spring and transitioning into summer, fall and winter.
Some of the produce she enjoys during this time of year include grapes and yellow peaches.
“I’m eyeing the winter squash that’s coming in, so there’s anticipation for fall,” Julie said. “It’s like when you wait for a holiday when you’re a kid and get excited as you get closer to it.”
Her future goals are to bring in more beneficial and native plants.
“I’m thrilled to work with the little garden and nursery section we have here. I’m happy to help with plant questions if anyone sees me out there working and wants to talk,” she added.
She bikes or walks her four-mile commute to work practically every day.
“For me, I feel that there is no reason to use a car and contribute to one of the causes of climate change,” Julie said. “As the saying goes, ‘Be part of the solution, not the problem.’”
She and her husband enjoy vacations that include alternative forms of transportation, especially cycling. They pedaled their way through England and Scotland on a bike tour, and have done a thousand-mile bike trip from British Columbia to California.
“The longest day was 100 miles with the steepest hill at the end,” Julie said. “I didn’t think I’d make it but darn it, I wasn’t giving in!”
Poet, comedian and knowledgeable person in charge (PIC), Micah Dugan just celebrated his four-year anniversary of working at Astoria Co+op.
Born and raised in Astoria, Dugan went to Clatsop Community College and Portland State University to earn his degree in media studies before returning to the area.
His interest in writing began when he was in middle school and he became attracted to the therapeutic aspect of poetry. His work has been published in literary publications and he still writes poems every day. He also began writing comedically during college and got into performing stand-up comedy.
“I was always interested in the writing aspect but also experiencing laughter and pure joy, and being a small part of causing that is amazing,” Dugan said. Before the coronavirus pandemic put a halt to performances, Dugan had been doing stand-up comedy regularly and getting paid for it.
In August 2017, Dugan started working at the co-op as a cashier, then in the grocery department, and became a PIC when the co-op moved to its current location and expanded its staff at the end of 2019.
He described PIC as being an interactive role providing oversight and enforcement of the store’s policies. All PICs have their respective departments, and Dugan’s is grocery.
He added that working in grocery has introduced him to new foods and inspired him to live a healthier lifestyle than what he grew up with.
“Working here, being exposed to quality ingredients and products helped change a lot about my life,” Dugan said. “I’ve lost 80 or so pounds in the past couple years being here.”
“I fell into a healthier life and I’m thankful for it,” Dugan added.
Some products he’s excited about include Majestic Garlic spread, Zimmerman’s honey, Elegant Tuna and Sweep the Leg Japanese rice lager from Level Beer. He’s also a big fan of Ivan’s Columbia Bars. Dugan first met Ivan when he was just starting out and looking for space to sell his bars, so Dugan introduced him to co-op grocery manager Brian Marchello and got his product on the shelves.
Dugan is looking forward to citrus season, when he can get citrus like kishu and TDE2 shasta mandarin oranges.
“At the end of the day, it’s nice I don’t punch the clock for a corporation, and that I know 70% of the customer base I interact with,” Dugan said. “Knowing I’m dedicating my time to a healthy cause is rewarding. It’s something I’m very grateful for and I don’t take it for granted.”
Due to the high case numbers in our area we want to limit the activities that may result in masks being removed inside the co-op to protect our staff and shoppers and reduce any business interruption from the highly contagious delta variant. We’ll be watching case counts and will respond accordingly. Thank you for wearing a mask in the store at all times.
Face masks are required in the store for all people older than five, per state mandate. This announcement came Aug. 11 from the governor to help preserve capacity of hospital beds in the state as coronavirus cases rise. We’ll be paying close attention to the news and following all public health guidelines. The safety of our shoppers and staff members remains our top priority throughout the pandemic, and we have many other safety protocols in place, including air scrubbers, handwashing stations and regular cleaning of surfaces. Thanks for your cooperation in helping keep the co-op safe.