Free Range Food Co-op

Sarah Verke, Chair

Sarah lives in Grand Rapids in Wabana Township, and she is married with two children. She holds degrees in Paralegal Studies, and Interactive Graphic and Web Design. She has worked for the State of Minnesota for 15 years, with the last 8 at the DNR. Sarah enjoys gardening, cooking, reading, exercising, traveling, spending time with her family, and being outside as much as possible in the spring and summer months. Sarah joined the co-op effort because she believes that co-ops have a great potential to improve the quality of life in the communities they serve. Specifically important to Sarah is building a stronger local food system, addressing access to organic and whole foods, and raising the bar on environmental sustainability. Sarah also appreciates the cooperative principles and values that help to lay a strong foundation for how cooperatives operate. Sarah serves as the Board Chair, she is the marketing coordinator, outreach team member, and frequently works on other projects and events.

Term expires October 2019

Sarah can be contacted at

Carrie Barsness, Vice Chair

Carrie is a life-long resident of the Grand Rapids area and currently resides in Cohasset. She is currently employed at Grand Rapids State Bank as an Account Services Representative. Carrie enjoys running, reading, cooking and spending time with friends and family in her spare time. She is proud and excited to be a part of the efforts of bringing a food co-op grocery store into the Grand Rapids area. What attracted her to the project is the sense of community this will bring. That is truly what a cooperative stands for; a group of people working together to reach a common goal or effort. Carrie serves as the Vice Chair. She volunteers her time on the outreach team, as well as planning other projects and events.

Term expires October 2019

Carrie can be contacted at

Corinn Tiwari, Records Officer

Corinn has a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing, and is also a Board Certified Emergency Room Nurse who has spent the greater part of the last decade researching chemical exposure inour environment, and food sources. She puts a strong emphasis in education of such topics, and enjoys helping others achieve a chemical free diet, and lifestyle. She also enjoys eating, and preparing ethnic cuisine, reading, oil painting, spending time with her husband and children, hiking, and camping. Corinn came onto the co-op team in January 2016 and found her niche in organizing right off the bat. Her love for research and learning spills over into every area of her life including a passion to share with others the things she has discovered. Her favorite thing to talk about, as of late is the co-op. Corinn serves on the board as Records officer, she is on the outreach team, and she volunteers on special projects.

Term expires on October 2019

Corinn can be contacted at


Hope is married with two children, and lives in Cohasset. She loves to spend time outdoors with her family, and hiking and relaxing up at the cabin in the summers. She is also passionate about traveling with her family. Whenever she travels, she makes a point to visit new food co-ops. Hope holds a degree in accounting, and has 19 years of experience. She currently manages the financial records for the co-op, and would like to continue being involved in order to make the co-op a reality. When Hope found out about the effort to build a food co-op in Grand Rapids, she knew she wanted to be involved some way. There have been strong food co-ops in other cities where she has lived, and she wants to see that happen here too. She is also an owner of Natural Harvest Food Co-op in Virginia, MN. Hope serves on the board as Treasurer.

Term expires October 2020

Hope can be contacted at

Annaliesa McCartney, Director

Annaliesa is a Registered Nurse and works at Grand Itasca, and the Hibbing Hospital. She is married with three children. She became interested in food cooperatives when her son introduced her to Harmony Food Coop in Bemidji, MN. Annaliesa likes the positive impact that food co-ops have on a community.   It is important to her that the money spent at food co-ops stay in the community. She likes how a food co-op helps build a better local food system. She believes the people of Grand Rapids deserve better access to fresh, wholesome, clean grown local foods. Annaliesa serves on the board, she is the business planning team coordinator, outreach team member, and she volunteers to work on special projects.

Term expires October 2019

Annaliesa can be contacted at


Emil grew up in Delavan, Wisconsin close to his grandparents who owned a 260 acre dairy farm. He developed an interest in farming early in life, as well as interests in hunting, fishing, and spending time outdoors. He holds degrees in horticulture and computer science, and he has had experience as a food producer, food service manager, and computer programming over the course of his career. Emil now owns a farm in Blackberry with his wife Tami, where he utilizes organic practices to grow a large variety of fruits and vegetables. He sells his produce through a CSA program made up of a number of local families, that has increased in size considerably over the last few years. Emil believes in the goals of Free Range Food Food Co-op. He likes the local focus, and the organic and sustainability tenants, along with the idea of community ownership of the co-op. In addition to his board service, Emil is on the outreach team.

Term expires October 2020

Emil can be contacted at

Megan Brekke, Director

Megan is married with three children and lives in Trout Lake Township.  She and her family tend gardens, fruit trees and egg-laying chickens. She has been a registered dietician for 13 years, and her husband owns a small lawn-care company. Food and small business are both areas of interest for Megan. She believes that if we want a strong livable community, we need to support it with our purchasing.  She feels the Grand Rapids area is able to produce more of its own food and products, and that a food co-op would open the doors for more growers and producers. Megan believes that supporting responsible consumerism is important, and in a global economy, the knowledge of how something was made has become far too removed.  She feels that the more ways we can encourage the simplicity of clean, local production and purchasing, the better off our community will be. In addition to her board duties, Megan participates on the outreach team.

Term expires October 2020

Megan can be contacted at

Becky Semmler, Director

Becky owns a farm in Jacobson with her husband where they raise grass fed and finished Scottish Highland Cattle, Red Wattle Swine, and Icelandic/cross sheep, along with other animals you might think of “down on the farm”. She is a retired boiler operator, and left that profession to raise her 5 children and animals in a healthy and non-invasive way, and to live a life closer to what nature intended. Becky believes in good food, good surroundings and herbs and oils from nature herself in order to live a healthy lifestyle. Becky serves on the board of the White Oak Society, she makes soap using the fats from her animals, and she also has a spinning wheel that she would love to use more regularly. She chooses what she gets involved with out of a desire to make things better, and to give another viewpoint for others to think about. She believes that none of us as humans is exactly like anyone else, but we can enjoy the differences and respect others ideas without giving up our own identity. Becky would like to see a food co-op that will help provide options for families to feed their members a better and closer to local diet which will help sustain the small farmer. She believes that knowing your farmers is a smart and community building reality. Becky hopes that her involvement with the co-op will ensure a hands-on farmer attitude and keep the dream of providing for families locally a real possibility.

Term expires October 2020

Becky can be contacted at