Austin Miller Co-op Hero Awards

Here in the Pioneer Valley, it's easy to take our vibrant co-op community for granted. But it takes committed individuals and organizations to support people in need, champion a sustainable environment, and develop a strong food system that contributes to the local economy.

The Austin Miller Co-op Hero Awards strive to recognize those people and organizations that nurture and sustain our co-op and our community. Created in 2009 by River Valley Co-op, the Austin Miller Co-op Hero Awards recognize: 1) an individual, 2) a nonprofit organization,  3) a business and 4) a farm or food business in the Pioneer Valley that support and strengthen River Valley Co-op cooperative values and that embody the cooperative principle Support for Community.

Austin Miller 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 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 benefited people in need and strengthened our communities. Austin was the financial consultant who secured the financing agreements between River Valley Co-op 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.

Individual and Business Award winners will receive $500. The non-profit award winner will receive $500 and the proceeds from food sales at our annual Strawberry Ice Cream Social.



INDIVIDUAL: Emily Kawano

NON-PROFIT: Welcome Home Refugee Resettlement Program

BUSINESS: Artisan Beverage Cooperative

FARM: Crimson and Clover


INDIVIDUAL: Margaret Christie

NON-PROFIT: Hitchcock Center for the Environment

BUSINESS: Alternative Recycling 

FARM:Astarte Farm


INDIVIDUAL:Jane Nevinsmith

NON-PROFIT: Grow Food Northampton


FARM:Next Barn Over


INDIVIDUAL: Trevor the Games Man

NON-PROFIT: Franklin County CDC

BUSINESS: Wright Builders

FARM:  Winter Moon Roots




BUSINESS: The Northampton Radio Group: The River, WHMP and Hits 


Individual: Andrea Ayvazian

Non-Profit: Gardening the Community

Business: Apex Orchards


Individual: Mary Shanley Koeber

Non-Profit: Common Capital

Business: Our Family Farms


Individual: Lynn Benander, Co-op Power

Non-profit: Seeds of Solidarity

Business: UMassFive College Federal CU


Individual: Elizabeth (Apple) Ahearn

Non-profit: Community Involved in
Sustaining Agriculture (CISA)

Business: Pedal People


Individual: David Gowler

Non-profit: Western MA Food Bank

Business: Valley Alliance of Worker Cooperatives


Individual: Austin Miller

Non-profit: Greenfields Market 

Business: Bart’s Homemade Ice Cream