This is old news, but any story showing how farmers are fighting to stay viable is worthy. Will include later news as to their progress..
COLDBROOK — A new co-operative food market — one that would connect farmers with consumers — may rise from the ashes of the failing Kent Co-op grocery store in New Minas.
“It’s unfortunate that Kent Co-op went the way it did,” David Cudmore said Tuesday about the closing of the 41-year-old grocery store that couldn’t survive in a highly competitive grocery market dominated by large players like Sobeys, Loblaws and Walmart.
“At the closure meeting, there was quite a turnout and a lot of support given to why people like to shop at their co-op and all the wonderful things the co-op did for them,” said Cudmore, president and CEO of Scotian Gold Co-operative Ltd., a farmer-owned business.
“Whatever model Kent Co-op had just didn’t work,” he said in an interview at Scotian Gold’s apple storage warehouse and retail outlet in Coldbrook.
“But people expressed an interest in being involved if another opportunity came along.”
So a small group of people passionate about local food formed a committee and started looking at the options. It’s proposing a new co-operative food market that will put local products first and emphasize the connection between good food and healthy living.
“We’re trying to create a whole different format to the co-op structure,” said Cudmore.
Instead of trying to be all things for all people, the new market would focus on consumers who want to know where their food comes from and how it’s grown.
“There’s a core group of people who care a lot about where their food comes from and knowing who produced it and how it’s produced,” Cudmore said.
“They would have part ownership of the enterprise and be able to influence what products are sold in the store.”
Farmers would also be members of the co-op, giving them not only a direct connection to consumers but more control over their products and how they’re priced, displayed and sampled.
The emphasis would be on Annapolis Valley products first, followed by products from elsewhere in Nova Scotia, then Canada and lastly imported products that aren’t grown locally, like bananas and oranges.
“It would have all the groceries you would want,” Cudmore said.”
Commentary: of special note here (for me) in relation to the Cape Breton Farmers’ Market (CBFM), is how the membership/ownership is not just the farmers/vendors but also those creating the market, i.e. the customers. I feel strongly we should do the same thing in Sydney, but making changes like this in an institution is always difficult, and usually not for bad reasons either. Still, I think it’s time for a re-set.