Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Media Release: The Mustard Seed Co-op helps you feel good about your food

The Mustard Seed Co-op helps you feel good about your food

Hamilton, ON - March 14, 2016: Do you want to know where your food comes from? How it is made? Is it good for your family? Many Hamilton households share these concerns and have created The Mustard Seed Co-op to make it simple to buy local, wholesome food.

The Mustard Seed Co-op, located at 460 York Boulevard (near Dundurn Castle) just celebrated its second year in business. With 2,150 owner households, it is the only community-owned grocery store in the GTA outside of downtown Toronto.

The Co-op’s third Annual General Meeting was held on Thursday March 3rd at Erskine Presbyterian Church, attracting over 100 owners. The program included updates on the fiscal year, electing new directors, and special guest Cory Van Groningen of VG Meats who discussed sustainable meat production in southern Ontario.

The Mustard Seed opened in January 2014 with the goal of helping urban residents access local, wholesome, affordable groceries. It was voted “Best New Business” that year in the Hamilton Spectator Reader’s Choice Awards.

The two-year anniversary is an important milestone for any business, especially a retail grocery store. According to Board President and founding owner Graham Cubitt, “2015 was a turning point year. We faced the pressures many start-ups experience: working through staffing changes, evolving inventory and supplier relationships, and ensuring adequate cash flow. There’s a steep learning curve, but with dedicated board, staff, and professional advice, we are steadily building towards sustainability.”

Everyone is welcome to shop at The Mustard Seed, regardless of membership. Anyone can join the Co-op with a one-time $100 fee to become part of the democratic ownership structure. Owners get 2% credit on all purchases, as well as special offers, bulk discounts, and opportunities to help direct the Co-op’s engagement in the local food system.

“We are consciously sourcing from Ontario’s best producers, so we can know where our food comes from. We have almost everything you need, and our prices are competitive with national chains,” says Carol Hartmann, General Manager at the Co-op since November 2015. The Mustard Seed has become the primary grocery store for hundreds of Hamiltonians who want to feel good about their food.

The Mustard Seed recognizes the significant support it received from the Ontario Ministry of Food and Rural Affairs through the Local Food Fund. A $112,000 grant supported its Local Food Network Strategy - a variety of initiatives designed to improve the connection between local producers and urban consumers. This strategy has effectively strengthened the Mustard Seed’s capacity to source and promote local food from over 230 Ontario producers.

The Mustard Seed also thanks the Agricultural Adaptation Council for a grant through the Growing Forward 2 Fund that enabled investments in Board and staff leadership development. They worked with CDS Consulting Co-op to develop Policy Governance frameworks and create effective marketing, merchandising, and retail strategies to strengthen local capacity.

The Mustard Seed is part of Hamilton’s new sharing economy. It has partnered with other local organizations who share a similar approach to food culture, environmental change, and community building including: 541 Eatery & Exchange, Community Carshare, Hamilton Community Food Centre, Indwell, Mac Farmstand, Mohawk Sustainability Office, YWCA Hamilton, and YMCA of Hamilton-Burlington-Brantford.

A new video released at the AGM highlights the first two years of The Mustard Seed. Owners, staff, producers and board members talk about why The Mustard Seed means so much to them, and why it’s important to support a community-owned grocery store.

The more we know about our food, the more The Mustard Seed makes sense. If you haven’t visited The Mustard Seed yet, stop by and find out how easy it can be to feel good about your food.

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