$117,603 from the Local Food Fund! Hooray!

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Everybody was smiling after the big announcement! From L to R: Emma Cubitt (Board), Damian Wills (Local Food Manager), Graham Cubitt (Board), Ted McMeekin (MPP), Richard Adshead (General Manager), Nrinder Nann (Board), & Sarah Botham (Board).

March 14, 2014  –  A huge thanks to the government of Ontario for establishing the Local Food Act last year, along with the Local Food Fund!  The Local Food Fund is designed to support innovative local food projects that celebrate local food, and help create jobs and economic growth in Ontario.

The Mustard Seed has been chosen to develop our Local Food Networks Strategy through a two-year pilot project. The $117,603 grant covers 50% of the expenses for the two year development phase, with the other 50% coming from The Mustard Seed Co-op budget.

Key components of the strategy include:

  • Two full-time positions : Local Food Manager and Marketing & Community Engagement Coordinator
  • Proactive relationship development with local farmers and producers with a goal to work with 200 by the end of the pilot phase
  • Develop clear and effective communication methods on availability and benefits of local food
  • Help producers gauge and understand consumer demand for broad spectrum of local foods
  • Create and host education sessions, cooking classes, farm tours, and other food culture events
  • Develop, implement, and track strategies for effectively promoting local food with knowledge to be shared with partners and funders
  • Empower members and community to align their purchasing priorities for local by finding and stocking a full spectrum of local grocery products

We expect the Strategy to result in 4 new full-time-equivalent (FTE) positions + the two direct jobs in addition to the Co-op’s base operational staffing. This will help grow FTE employment at The Mustard Seed to 18 after five years.

The big announcement of our successful grant proposal happened at the co-op on Friday, March 14th. Our local MPP Ted McMeekin was kind enough to come out to the store to share the good news with a crowd of about 50 members and staff. We are so excited to see how these added resources will help our local food networks flourish!

Media coverage of our announcement:

Hamilton Spectator – Local grocery co-op nabs tasty grant

CBC Hamilton – Mustard Seed Co-op receives $100K in provincial funding

AM900 CHML radio – Interview between Graham Cubitt & Rick Zamperin

And the Winner is…The Mustard Seed!

The Mustard Seed wins the National Co-op Challenge!

A huge thank you to all our members and supporters for helping us rise to the top in the National Co-op Challenge! We had the most votes of any co-op in our region. We already received our $25,000 cheque from The Co-operators Insurance, the co-op that organizes this annual contest to help emerging and expanding co-ops.  What are we going to do with all that money? Well, right now we have a whole lot of refrigeration, and lighting, and kitchen equipment to buy. This extra boost has allowed us to buy more energy-efficient equipment, which will save us money and the planet’s resources in the years ahead. It also helps us open our doors sooner and keep costs lower for our members.

An amazing team of Volunteers!

We could not have won the National Co-op Challenge without an amazing group of volunteers.  In particular, we would like to thank everyone involved in making this video – even if you didn’t make it into this 90-second version.  In particular, thanks to our production team of Board member Sarah Botham (producer/writer), Jonathon & Ashleigh Patterson (filming/editing), and Jenn Friesen (narrator) from our Membership Action Team for volunteering hundreds of hours to create a very professional video!

What is the National Co-op Challenge?

NatCoopChallengeThe National Co-op Challenge was created in 2012 to engage Canadians in supporting emerging and expanding co-ops across Canada.  Funded by The Co-operators, the format reflects co-ops’ commitment to democratic control of their organizations by their members.  The sixteen finalists chosen from amongst the national applicants each created a short video to share how their co-operative can impact their community. After a month-long online voting period, two co-ops in each region win $25,000, enabling them to expand their businesses.

+ A $25,000 Grant from the Hamilton Future Fund!

Not only were we recognized nationally, we were also recognized in our community from the Hamilton Future Fund with a $25,000 grant! The mission of the Hamilton Future Fund is:

To preserve and manage a permanent, self-sustaining fund (the Hamilton Future Fund) as a lasting legacy for current and future generations of Hamiltonians to enjoy economic prosperity, enhanced social fabric, and enhanced community life.

We are very thankful that the Board of Governors has recognized our vision for social change with this grant! As an engine for local food & agricultural development, we believe The Mustard Seed will pay back to the community with this innovative capital many times over.

We are very excited to have received these two grants, and look forward to all that this will bring in the months ahead!

Vote for us in the National Co-op Challenge!

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Screen shot of Jenn Friesen – The Mustard Seed video was filmed in a variety of locations all across Hamilton

The Mustard Seed has been named as a finalist in The National Co-op Challenge, a national social media contest created by The Co-operators, with $200,000 in prize money to be won. Anyone with a Facebook account or email address can vote between now and October 18, 2013.  Two finalists in each of four regions across Canada will take home $25,000. We hope our local community will help The Mustard Seed Co-op rise to the top!

The Mustard Seed is a community-owned grocery store that offers a bountiful selection of wholesome foods, prioritizes local producers, and creates an educational environment which nurtures the relationship between people and the food they eat. We can’t wait to open our doors before the end of 2013!

Watch & Vote!

Watch our 90-second video and vote for The Mustard Seed! Then please share with your friends, family, colleagues – anyone you think would be excited about The Mustard Seed opening in Hamilton! We have a strong chance of winning $25,000 so please VOTE today!NatCoopChallenge

Follow this link to the National Co-op Challenge / Co-operators Facebook app

If you don’t have a Facebook account, click here to go to the voting microsite. Note: you can vote for The Mustard Seed in the Ontario region. After that, please pick a co-op from the Atlantic & Pacific regions as well. You must select 3 videos (1 from each region) in order to validate your vote. This helps give more exposure to other co-ops.

Membership means Ownership

Once you vote, check out our website for details on the benefits of membership, how you can invest for impact through the Co-op, and our next steps towards opening.  Are you Interested in volunteering? There are many ways to get involved.

A Big Thanks to our Production Team!

We could not have become a finalist in the National Co-op Challenge without an amazing group of community volunteers supporting us.  In particular, we would like to thank everyone involved in making this video – even if you didn’t make it into this 90-second version.  In particular, thanks to our production team of Board member Sarah Botham (producer/writer), Jonathon & Ashleigh Patterson (filming/editing), and Jenn Friesen (narrator) from our Membership Action Team for volunteering hundreds of hours to create a very professional video!

About the National Co-op Challenge

The National Co-op Challenge was created in 2012 to engage Canadians in supporting emerging and expanding co-ops across Canada.  Funded by The Co-operators, the format reflects co-ops’ commitment to democratic control of their organizations by their members.  The sixteen finalists chosen from amongst the national applicants each created a short video to share how their co-operative can impact their community. Two co-ops in each region will each win $25,000, enabling them to expand their businesses.  Good luck to everyone involved in the National Co-op Challenge!

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