Last night at the Mahtay Cafe in downtown St. Catharines, was the launch of the "Our Community Food Store." It was a night of community, sharing ideas, signing up for action groups and talking about what our community would like in a local, cooperatively run grocery store. I originally attended to see how Rhizome Farms could get involved - but with all the hullabaloo, I didn't talk to anyone about it so I'll update later with that information. They seem to really be promoting sourcing produce from local farmers - I'm not sure if they have already chosen which of our many local farmers will be involved (or if the members will be deciding... I'm not really quite sure how the whole thing works).
What I DO know is that there was an overwhelming desire of the community to be able to buy local produce from a grocery store.... YAY!!! There was an activity in which each attendee received 4 stickers and could vote by placing a sticker on their top 4 choices. "Local produce" was definitely the top choice!!! Also popular were "organic," "Non-GMO," "vegan," and "fair wages." I'm happy about our community's support for local produce because it can be hard to find in retail locations (rather than buying directly from the farmer or via farmers markets or produce co-ops). The only store (that I know of) in St. Catharines that makes it a point to sell local produce and likes to support small, local farmers is Bamboo Natural Foods and The Peanut Mill. They've been supporting small, independent businesses (including farmers) since they opened. All in all, I was very impressed by the turn-out from the Niagara community, I think the food co-op is a great initiative, and I hope that I can get more involved in the project, either as an individual, or as a farmer :)
For more information about "Our Community Food Store":