Summertime Local Food Festivals Around Hamilton

savour4 Ahh summer! It’s finally here! Summer is a great time to visit local farms and farmers markets, but did you know there are also many festivals that centre around local food? We searched all over for a good list of culinary festivals in southern Ontario to no avail so we decided to make our own. Do you know other local food events happening in the region, or events happening on local farms? Please tell us about them and we will add to our list!

July 13Turnip the Beets, Shared Harvest Community Farm, Dunnville ON – great live music, farm-fresh food, activities for kids, & puppet show in a beautiful setting on a great organic farm. Tickets are $20 and support the good work of Shared Harvest Community Farm. 1 hour south of Hamilton.

millersdairyJuly 13Miller’s Dairy Day, Creemore ON – This is the second year of operations for this small jersey dairy. The Miller family invites you to spend the day on their beautiful farm. Meet the lovely Jersey ladies, take a tour of the farm, & enjoy some treats. Free event, great for kids. Saturdays is also the Creemore Farmers Market and across the street you can check out the 100 Mile Store, one of The Mustard Seed’s early inspirations. 2 hours north of Hamilton.

July 19-21 – 5th Annual Cuisine-Art, Alton Mill Arts Centre, near Caledon ON – a festival showcasing the best of the region’s food, drink, and art. This year’s Cuisine-Art will feature the work of local artist, chefs preparing delicious foods from local producers, and numerous Ontario wine, beer, and cider vendors. Tickets are $20 in advance/$30 at the door & proceeds support The Alton Millpond Rehabilitation Fund. 1 hour north of Hamilton.

August 17  – Food Fight for Foodies, Niagara-on-the-Lake ON – A festival celebrating food featuring a cooking competition hosted by Chef Bruce Worden. Partake of the culinary delights from food trucks and food vendors. Stroll through the marketplace for unique finds while enjoying the sights and smell of the lavender fields.

savour5August 25Savour Simcoe, Minesing ON – A local culinary tasting event hosted by the Simcoe County Farm Fresh. The event is held outdoors at the Simcoe County Museum among the trees and historical buildings of the museum. The theme is “Celebrating our Heritage” (Agriculture and Regional Cuisine), which fits into the County’s rich agricultural history and the Museum’s extensive collections and artifacts.  Tickets $59. 1 hour 45 minutes north of Hamilton.

August 31Greenbelt Harvest Picnic, Christie Lake Conservation Area in Dundas ON – While admittedly the Harvest Picnic is a great music festival, the event serves to celebrate the importance of the Greenbelt, local farmers, art, the outdoors and the eat-local movement. The Mustard Seed is hoping to have a booth again this year amongst the other non-profits and local farmers that the festival aims to celebrate. In addition to meeting local farmers & food groups, musical treats include the Arkells, Harlan Pepper, Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Emmylou Harris, Daniel Lanois, Whitehorse, Basia Bulat & others. Tickets are $150 however children under 10 are free and 11-15 are $25. 20 minutes from downtown Hamilton.

September 6 – 8 – 20th Annual Niagara Food Festival – Welland, ON – The Niagara Food Festival offers fantastic food from local restaurants and food producers, celebrity chefs on the Mobile Culinary Theatre, live entertainment for all ages. Admission is free. 1 hour east of Hamilton.

savour beerSeptember 8 – 24th Annual Feast of Fields, Cold Creek Conservation Area, Nobleton ON – Pick-up your napkin & wine glass and stroll amongst celebrated chefs, farmers, vintners, artisans and brewers. Organic Advocates/Feast of Fields was established in 1989 by chefs Jamie Kennedy and Michael Stadtlander, and other organic producers, environmentally concerned chefs and other food professionals, and enlightened consumers. Tickets $100. 1 hour north of Hamilton.

September 14  – Niagara Garlic & Herb Festival, Niagara-on-the-Lake ON – A delicious culinary festival where there are vendors from all over Ontario that either grow garlic (like elephant or music) or incorporate garlic into their dishes like jams and jellies even chocolate. There will be cooking demonstrations, garlic braiding, tutorials on how to grow garlic, and even garlic ice cream to sample. 1 east of Hamilton.

savour stratfordSeptember 20-22 Savour Stratford, Stratford, ON – Savour Stratford is Ontario’s premier culinary event celebrating the creative partnerships between producers and local chefs, inviting celebrity chefs and renowned cook book authors to present innovative and emerging culinary ideas at delicious tastings and learning events. Free music concerts, artisanal markets and street theatre all converge in Stratford’s heritage garden district for a flavourful weekend of fun! This year’s theme is globally inspired, locally grown. Check out the festivals website for tickets to the various workshops that range from Global Grains to International Beers to Peruvian food & the Bitters Revival. 1 hour 15 minutes west of Hamilton.

September 20-22EpiCKure, Wallaceburg ON – a new three-day celebration of locally-grown and produced ingredients and skilfully crafted foods prepared by the region’s most talented culinary artisans. The festival is about local food, making connections with farmers and getting Ontario excited about the foods that are being grown in Chatham-Kent. A Market Food & Drink Ticket Sheet is $20. 2 1/2 hours west of Hamilton.

September 27-29 – 12th Annual TASTE Community Grown, Prince Edward County – An epicurean experience, TASTE showcases the finest artisanal products, wines, beers, cider and cuisine that Ontario’s Gastronomical Capital, Prince Edward County, has to offer.

If you have read this far, I am sure you are wondering when Hamilton will have its own culinary & local food festival. Stay tuned…once The Mustard Seed is open we hope to help organize events like the ones above showcasing our own local producers and culinary artists!

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Springing into Spring

Our membership continues to grow with over 450 Mustard Seed founding members supporting Hamilton’s first non-profit co-operative grocery store! Everything is ramping up to our opening this summer. Below is an update of what we have been up to, where we’re going and how you can be involved.membergrowthMar18

DSC_1976Member Packages

All members will be receiving a membership package some info on the Co-op and a window sticker for the outside of your car, house, or business. The membership team will be hand-delivering packages in the next couple weeks to members who haven’t picked up the package at an event. Please put your stickers somewhere very visible and show your support for The Mustard Seed!

Casting Call for Members

We are looking for a diverse selection of Mustard Seed members – from kids to grandparents, farmers to eaters – to represent The Mustard Seed Co-op in our promo video and photo signage. Read more here and please send in your responses by Friday, March 29, 2013.

General Manager Posting

Our GM position was posted on our website in early March as well as in Cooperative Grocer, Sustain Ontario, goodworkcanada.ca, and on various local food, cooperative, and food policy listserves. So far we have had several candidates respond. Please help get the word out so that we can find the right person to run our co-op!

Stay tuned for postings of other store positions in the coming weeks. The Mustard Seed is committed to being a living wage employer and will be a great place to work!

Location Update

We are very close to finalizing a lease for the store’s location in downtown Hamilton; stay tuned for an announcement soon! In the mean time, our Operations team has been busy purchasing various equipment.

Looking for Producers & Suppliers

We have created a supplier form that can be filled out by potential farmers/suppliers or members to ensure we have the best local products on our shelves. Our sourcing team is attending a producer & distributor panel discussion this week and we are beginning to contact producers to build relationships & learn how their farming practices align with our sourcing priorities.

Not yet a Founding Member? – Learn More!

Thinking about becoming a member?  Members are part owners of the business, they represent the collective power of working together to achieve lasting change. The Mustard Seed Co-op needs 800 members in order to open our doors – so join now.  We’re only 350 members away from our goal!

Finance Update & Investing

We have capitalized the Co-op with over $200,000 from our membership already.  But we need another $250,000 to open our doors.  This will go towards equipment (coolers, shelving, commercial kitchen, signage) and inventory – the delicious goodness we’re all waiting to buy! If you have a tax return coming in, a car payment that’s finished, or some savings you want to invest, put that money to work in shaping your community!

You can read more about our direct loan program  at mustardseed.coop/investingfaq. Earn 3.5% interest annually over 4 years while making a positive change in our local economy.

Upcoming Events

We are at a number of upcoming events – check out our Events Calendar for a full listing.

  • Monday, April 1, 10:00am – 3:00pm – booth at Mohawk College’s 2nd Annual Sustainability Fair
  • Sunday, April 7, 10:30am – 12:00pm – Motivations behind The Mustard Seed presentation, Grace Lutheran Church, 1107 Main St. West
  • Friday, April 12, 7:00-9:00pm – booth at James St. North Art Crawl
  • Sunday, April 14, 1:30-4:00pm – booth at the Nourishing Hamilton Fair, Southgate Presbyterian Church, 120 Clarendon Ave.
  • Monday, April 15, 7:00-9:00pm – All Action Team gathering at Mulberry Coffee House – 193 James St N

Come grow with us and help us open our doors!

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Photo credit: West End Food Co-op Community Cannery

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/)