guest post by Matthew Adams of the Fourth Pig Worker Co-op (which recently won the contract to build the Muskoka North Good Food Co-op store in Huntsville!)
Near the busy corner of Dufferin and Queen Street West in Toronto, in what was once the empty basement of the Parkdale Community Health Centre, you now find the vibrant West End Food Co-op (WEFC). WEFC is a multi-stakeholder (producers, workers, consumers, community agencies) non-profit organization working to promote a different food system.
When the folks at WEFC were planning their store, they knew they wanted the building to represent their values of sustainability and cooperation. What better way than to embrace article 6 of co-op principles (cooperation among cooperatives) and build with a co-op? When it came to construction they turned to another co-op The Fourth Pig. The Fourth Pig works to promote sustainable shelters through natural and green building. The name is a reference to the Three Little Pigs who in the famous story didn’t seem to have the skills/knowledge to integrate straw, wood and brick and build a comfortable and safe shelter. The Fourth Pig does.
The Fourth Pig is an organizational member of WEFC (and was an early community bond holder in support of WEFC). The Fourth Pig worked with WEFC to write a grant to support green aspects of the build, which was awarded in 2012. Besides general construction, the Fourth Pig used recycled barn board and rough sawn pine from local sources to build shelves and check-out counters, used eco friendly finishes and products, and used earth plaster on the walls. The Fourth Pig also held a workshop for members to learn how to do earth plaster and a workshop on building a solar oven.
The Fourth Pig makes it a priority when choosing clients to work with other co-ops and is looking forward to future cooperative projects.
Cooperatives are dedicated to cooperating with each other (it is called the "co-operation among co-operatives" principle). Here at the Fourth Pig we are very proud to be the project managers to build Muskoka North Good Food Co-op's community-owned grocery store and food hub. Using an integrated design/build process we are working with Terrell Wong, architect from Stone's Throw Design and Granite Engingeering Services.
The mission of the Muskoka North Good Food Co-op is to "Provide our community access to the best regional, sustainable, safe, and environmentally conscious food through the development of a community-owned grocery store and educational food center. The MNGFC provides fair value to producers for their products and living wage models for its staff while promoting co-operative value and participation." This sustainability mission matches well with the mission of the Fourth Pig, "To foster ecologically balanced methods of construction and energy production in order to promote more sustainable and healthy communities." This project is in the design phase and we are looking forward to helping to build a wonderful, energy efficient, environmentally friendly building.