Meagan (Wilson) Van Beest ’97 grew up in the apple capital of New York state, near orchards and dairy farms. As a child and a teen, she bagged food alongside her parents at their local food cooperative and spent time with her grandfather who was the president of his dairy cooperative.
Van Beest chose Northland College sight unseen because she received a postcard in the mail with a red canoe. The first thing she did when she arrived was to join the Chequamegon Food Co-op, located in downtown Ashland.
She majored in English literature and unofficially minored in small business management.
She’s watched as the language of local foods moved into the region in the early 2000s and hit its stride in 2012, the same time she accepted a position at the co-op, managing the marketing and public relations.
The food co-op signed the Superior Compact that year, committing to purchase twenty percent local food by 2020. As of right now, they are at fourteen percent and working to make the goal.
In 2017, Van Beest was promoted to a three-person management team. For her latest partnership with Northland, Van Beest sends the co-op’s cardboard, paper, food waste, and biodegradable dinnerware to the College to be turned into compost that will be sold to the farmers to grow more local food.
“When I started at Northland College, composting was just taking off and the community gardens were still in the baby stage of things,” she said. “I would say that things were just gaining momentum as I graduated and Northland has certainly stepped it up since then.”