The Mustard Seed is Sprouting!

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Winter means dormancy in Canadian fields, and so it has seemed with our blog postings.  But co-op development has ramped up since our membership launch party on November 29th.  So many details are coming together, it’s as though the lengthening days of January are making room for the Co-op to bloom in the spring. Here’s a brief overview of what we’ve been up to:

Membership means Ownership

Our membership is climbing every day towards our target of 800 by May (262 members as of today, or see the counter to the right).  Hamilton-area households are working together to create an alternative to big-box grocery stores. By co-owning a cooperative business, we meet our members’ needs while extending many benefits to our broader community.  Why not join us?  Become a Founding Member today and see your values affect our local food culture.

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Education and Events

Education – one of the 7 Co-op Principles – is central to the Mustard Seed.  Whether it’s been at Art Crawl each month, Mountain Equipment Co-op in December, Green Drinks at Artword Artbar, sharing with church groups or civic clubs, our Board and Action Team members have been at many local events sharing the vision of the Co-op.  Are you interested in having someone talk to your group? Invite us to a lunch-n-learn in your office or a house party for friends and neighbours.  Our on-line calendar lists upcoming events you’re welcome to attend.

We’re also had some great media help from the Spectator, CBC Hamilton, Raise the Hammer, and various other blogs. See our media mentions page for what others have been saying about The Mustard Seed.

“Where’s the store located?”

This is the first question everyone asks about the Mustard Seed Co-op. Our Location Team has narrowed down the potential sites, but we need to meet two benchmarks before signing a conditional lease: reaching 300 members and $150,000 in available equity.  By joining today, and making an additional investment in the Co-op (if you are able), we can reach these thresholds soon and firm up a location.

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With our top priority being proximity to Members, as seen on this map of current members, you can get a good idea of where we have been most diligently searching for a store location.

Job posting: General Manager  

The H.R. Team are developing  job descriptions for three positions: a part-time Admin Coordinator, a contract Project Manager, and a full-time General Manager.  We are seeking individuals with the necessary skills, a passion for cooperative enterprise, and a love of local food.  Keep your eye on this website for more details and the job postings in the weeks ahead.  Hiring staff will sure be a milestone in our Co-op’s development!

Bulk bins & peanut grinders

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Our first purchase of nearly-new bulk bins through Kijiji!

Our Operations Team has begun listing all the infrastructure needed for our store.  From shelving and coolers to data systems and signage, there a lot of details.  We’ve already bought our first supplies:  some nearly-new bulk bins and a classic peanut butter grinder. If you love online research and bargain hunting, why not join this team and help us get the best deals on everything we need? We are also seeking someone with a truck to help pick up future store equipment. Check the Tools and Talents page for other ways to help!

Local Food: more than we imagined

The twenty members of our Sourcing Team have compiled an amazingly extensive database of over 400 local food producers and processors.  And with each meeting starting off with a potluck, we’ve had opportunities to try much of our region’s bounty. This database will help our staff make purchasing decisions in line with our membership’s priorities.  We are fortunate that Hamilton is in the heart of Ontario’s food producing regions. We can’t wait for The Mustard Seed to be part of enriching our local food culture!

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A sound financial footing

Our Finance Team is working to ensure the Mustard Seed has a strong financial footing. Based on extensive research  of over 30 other food co-ops across North America, our business plan projects a strong, positive cash-flow through our first five years.  This is inspiring members to invest capital beyond their $100 household share.  Following our Investor Information night this week, we have over $60,000 in member loans towards capitalizing the Co-op.  This equity is on deposit with our partner co-op, First Ontario Credit Union, in anticipation of our $150,000 benchmark for the next phase of development.  If you are interested in “locavesting” in Hamilton’s revitalization, please consider our cooperative business. Read our Investing FAQ page for more information and let us know if you would like a copy of the business plan or if you would like to meet about investing in The Mustard Seed.

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Interested investors at our information night on January 16, 2013. We are still looking for members able to invest in the Co-op – see you FAQ page for more information (https://mustardseed.coop/investingfaq/)

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