Co-op Name: Cloverbelt Local Food Co-op
Location: Dryden, ON
Phone: (807) 221- 3293 ext 26
Date of Incorporation: Established in Aug 2013
Co-op Structure (who are the owners):
What is the structure for member economic participation?
There is a $25 membership fee for consumers, $50 for producers and organizations.
How many farmers? How many eaters? How many staff?
There are 141 producers, 1281 eaters and 31 institutions & organizations.
Activities Undertaken by the co-op:
Online farmers market and community greenhouse.
What are the purchasing criteria/policies for food / what are the required attributes (ie. local? Organic? Fair trade? Other?):
All their food is locally sourced, primarily from within Northwestern Ontario, with an emphasis on sustainably produced food.
History of the Co-op/ important historical moments:
CLFC has grown very rapidly since its beginning in 2013. What started with just 85 members in the Dryden community has now grown to a current membership of over 1,400 in more than five communities across NWO, with expansion to more communities currently under way. All products are sold through the co-op’s website (www.cloverbeltlocalfoodcoop.com), which operates year-round and is open to anyone in NWO interested in buying or selling locally-grown foods and other goods. Along with significantly expanding its membership base within four years, CLFC has accomplished major projects such as a community greenhouse (2014) and an online interactive map showing the location of local producers throughout NWO (2015, www.nwofoodmap.com), both of which support the co-op’s overall goal of building up local food within the region and connecting producers.
Biggest Successes: Dryden Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Award: Environmental Stewardship (2014, 2015), Premier’s Agri-Innovation Awards (2014, 2016), Northern Ontario Business Influential Women of Northern Ontario Award: Business of the Year (2017).
Distributing small volumes of food over vast distances to rural and remote communities with no reliance or existence of urban centres, and sourcing adequate volumes of locally produced food with our particularly short growing season.
CLFC has created the first year-round market for local food north of Thunder Bay, and represents a unique example of rural social enterprise in a Northern setting. Aside from making regionally produced foods more visible and accessible, and in some cases improving food access to remote communities, they also support local food educational initiatives in area classrooms, and their community greenhouse.
What need does your co-op respond to (in the community)?
Our online farmer’s market provides a year-round marketplace for producers to service consumers across the region.
Why did you choose the co-op model for the business?
Dryden began a food box program, the Locavore program, in 2009. Although wildly popular among consumers, small producers struggled to participate in the program. The area supported a Cloverbelt Co-op in the early 1900’s which was very successful in the area, and some farmers were interested in reviving a collaborate effort, and forming a legal enterprise to operate within. In 2011, a feasibility study explored three co-op structures, from which an online farmers’ market was recommended. In 2012, area local food enthusiasts and farmers attended a workshop on co-op models across Ontario, and after learning more about the Eastern Local Food Co-op online model, participants were eager to get started and strengthen our local food system through collaboration.
What is the value of being part of a co-op Network?
The access to training and support that we receive through the Local Food and Farm Co-ops is invaluable. We have eagerly attended two assemblies, where we had the opportunity to network with other food co-ops, and be inspired by their ideas and initiatives, in addition to receiving vital training and tools. We are active participants in two current projects, including the Greenbelt Marketing project, which has supplied our co-op with professional marketing tools and templates to support our ability to engage our consumers, while decreasing the time we need to dedicate to creating these materials. We are also active participants in the Northern Trade Routes project, which is supporting us to move more food throughout Northwestern Ontario, which supports increased capacity within our co-op, in addition to two abattoir co-ops in our region. We are thankful to be involved in such a vibrant network of innovative food co-ops!
Anything else you would like to share?