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Our Community Food Store Launches in St. Catharines -

By Karrie Porter, Project Manager, Our Community Food Store

The friends, neighbours, activists, farmers, politicians, foodies, reporters, students, families, supporters, and co-operators all came out to Mahtay on March 6. (Just two hundred of them!) They drank apple cider. They listened to some ol’ time music. They signed membership pledges. They gave us their shopping wish lists. They signed up to working groups. They talked to each other. They talked to us. They heard some speeches. They got excited about a project to open a co-operatively-owned grocery store. And they drank some more (it got hot).

Launch_local_produce

We called this little exercise “dotology”. Everyone received dots to vote for what they thought should be the co-op’s top priorities. Local produce won hands down. The farmers and the urbanites were happy to be on the same page!

We got some nice press coverage the next day (read the article in the St. Catharines Standard):

Steering committee member Nancy Sigafoos and Project Manager Karrie Porter are all smiles. Photo courtesy of St. Catharines Standard.

Steering committee member Nancy Sigafoos and Project Manager Karrie Porter are all smiles. Photo courtesy of St. Catharines Standard.

We formally and gratefully acknowledged the Ontario Trillium Foundation for the generous funding to move this project forward. Over half of new co-ops never open because of lack of resources. Having dedicated staff will greatly improve our chances of getting the store off the ground. Thank you!

Kenneth Burden from the Ontario Trillium Foundation speaking to the group. Steering Committee Chair Mark Shantz waits in the wings.

Kenneth Burden from the Ontario Trillium Foundation speaking to the group. Steering Committee Chair Mark Shantz waits in the wings to accept our  plaque.

And we had fun!

Everyone was smiling!

Nancy and Rosemary. Everyone was smiling!

More smiles.

More smiles.

Steering Committee Member Bernie listens attentively while Marty is live tweeting to his people.

Steering Committee Member Bernie listens attentively while Marty is live tweeting to his people.

We got to thank our Trillium application partners Mike Lethby from The Raft and Susan Venditti from Start Me Up Niagara. Both organizations have supported the co-op idea from day one. Start Me Up Niagara is taking on the administration of the grant while we get on our feet. Thanks again and we look forward to strengthening our partnerships with you.

We were able to thank our Trillium application partners Mike Lethby from The Raft and Susan Venditti from Start Me Up Niagara. Both organizations have supported the co-op idea from day one. Start Me Up Niagara is taking on the administration of the grant while we get on our feet. We look forward to strengthening our partnerships with them.

More happy friends!

More happy friends. We hear there’s a great video of the event on its way!

Hannah Renglich, animator extraordinaire of the Local Organic Food Co-ops Network gives greetings on behalf of the network and local organic farmer Debbie Sexsmith from Sexsmith Farm Co-operative talks about farming and the importance of co-ops.

Hannah Renglich, animator extraordinaire of the LOFC gives greetings on behalf of the network and local organic farmer Debbie Sexsmith from Sexsmith Farm Co-operative talks about farming and the importance of co-ops.

I'll take some pre-made meals, please and thank you!

I’ll take some pre-made meals, please and thank you!

New Project Manager Karrie talks to the crowd. We need to get this store open so she can stop bragging about how great co-ops are in Nova Scotia.

New Project Manager Karrie talks to the crowd. We need to get this store open so she can stop bragging about how great co-ops are in Nova Scotia.

We've got a hunch these two will be co-op shoppers.

We’ve got a hunch these two will be co-op shoppers.

Our VegFest friends!

We’re pretty sure our veggie-growing Niagara VegFest friends will be shopping at the co-op as well!

Nancy and Councillor Mark. The City folks was out in full force. Downtown Councillors Mark and Mat were representing, along with Economic Development and Planning.

Nancy and Councillor Mark. The City folks was out in full force. Downtown Councillors Mark and Mat were representing, along with Economic Development and Planning.

Mark and Alex working at the membership table.

Mark and Alex working the membership table. Thanks to our volunteers!

See all the photos here.

What is next, you ask? Stay tuned for the next post where we answer the big questions!

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Our Community Food Store Launches in St. Catharines