The End of an Era

The Abundant Pantry (TAP) bulk buying has one of Skookum’s popular services to members but it has been out of commission for over a year due to a software issue, primarily, and secondly, due to uncertainty about distribution. Sadly, despite a great deal of effort from all parties, we have been unable to restart this bulk-buying initiative.The Abundant Pantry Steering Committee and the Skookum Board have decided to shut down TAP as a Skookum service.

As work continues to turn Ecossentials into a local Co-op, it is conceivable that in the near future a similar program could be offered through an Ecossentials Co-op and members could again take advantage of bulk buying opportunities of quality organic food.

As some of our 320 current members purchased their memberships because of the existence of TAP, we want to remind members who wish to leave Skookum that this is possible at any time and you will receive your $20 membership fee back. The withdrawal form is on the Skookum web site on the “Become a member” page. A direct link to the PDF is here.

The TAP Steering Committee deserve a huge “Thank You!” for all their efforts and hard work over the years.

We hope you choose to remain a Skookum member as the future looks bright for local food initiatives in Powell River!

The Skookum Board

Welcome to Splitsville, at the Abundant Pantry project

A tad squirrely
Winter’s Coming… Going a tad squirrely?

It really is worth remembering that one of Skookum’s recurring benefits to members comes through our The Abundant Pantry (TAP) Bulk Food Buying Club that runs every two months. The next deadline is Sunday, November 10 at 11:00 PM sharp. If you haven’t used it yet, you’re missing out on the benefits of gaining access to the best quality organic and conventional foods, at the lowest possible prices.

It’s easy.

  1. If you are already signed up as a TAP member… move to step 2 (if not, click here)
  2. You shop online anytime you want (up to 11:00 PM on Sunday November 10 for this next cycle)
  3. Check out the existing splits offered or enter your own invitations to split an order
  4. Show up on Delivery Day (Thursday November 14) at the set time and location  in Wildwood and pay there. Want to help at the distribution location? Ask Wendy, the program coordinator at bulkbuying@skookumfood.ca

Buying in bulk has many advantages, especially with the colder weather on its way…

  • You save money when you buy in bulk (we have food and non-food items, plus pet food, with some local products too)
  • You store more and better quality staples for the best price (which means you can often buy Organic food via The Abundant Pantry (TAP), for the cost of non-Organic at the supermarket, or less!
  • You will tend to eat better, less-processed and Organic food if you have better food in storage!
  • You generally reduce the need to rush off to the store (saving money, gas, time, effort, annoyance, especially in the winter when it can be an extra chore)
  • You generally reduce the amount of packaging when you buy in bulk (it depends on what you’re buying, but generally the larger the quantity, the less packaging and the more recyclable the packaging is)
  • You get to contribute a little bit to Skookum (a very small fraction of your bill is to help pay for the coordination and rental of space)
  • More importantly, get to know your fellow members; it’s all part of building a resilient community that will benefit us all
  • …and if you’re worried about having too much of a good thing (i.e. overbuying some products) do we have splits for you! It’s our program’s Splits Page, and it doesn’t end there, you can also use our Skookum members email list (just email members(at)skookumfood(dot)ca) or our Facebook page  and let them know you have food to share, either before you buy or afterwards. You can set up arrangements between yourselves.
  • It happens every two months, with the next order being November 10, so start browsing and check out the 1,500+  products available to you.

All the details are at The Abundant Pantry site. Any questions at all? Contact the development team at bulkbuying@skookumfood.ca.

Cooperatives on the bean

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAThis third instalment on cooperatives will take a more personal approach to the topic: namely, why I became a member way back when (3 years ago or so) and what my personal motivations are in seeing Skookum develop and increasingly become a big part of our community, and a draw for the like-minded out there looking for a great place to live.

Other points of view are encouraged on this blog as well, so if you want to share, please contact us with your story or simply comment on this one, at the bottom of the blog post.

In 2009, while our trusty economy was taking its latest major dip, a small group of us got to talking about how to increase our community’s confidence in being able to feed ourselves. The  ‘food insecurity’ was and still is, caused by various factors like volatile food prices and the constant low-level awareness that as a remote community producing probably no more than 4% of our food, we could be in big trouble and fast. Other areas of concern are the effects and costs in both today-dollars and future costs to the environment and our health inherent to fossil fuel use in food production/transportation. Coupled with the growing local interest in food self-sufficiency in terms of growing, raising, catching, preparing, preserving and sharing the best food possible, made it seem like a good time to try something new.

Underlying this was the need to great create stronger community links between people with resources and skills and those who could gain from these, for the benefit of all. We saw the newly developed non-profit Community Service Cooperative designation as providing a great model for democratic ownership. Even before we had the Skookum name, we had the feeling that the group would grow to include many different types of activities that would support local food and also create links between people with a concern for related progressive society-building activities like affordable housing, collective ownership of land, materials, vehicles, structures and resources. Any profits raised from our group’s activities goes back into the cooperative, and with  no membership fees (except for the initial one-time purchase of an actual share at $20 that is also redeemable), the cooperative was meant to provide open access to jointly-owned resources.

cabbages at the EGTSo what do you do? Who do you benefit? What can I get out of this?

The one-line ‘elevator speech’ describing Skookum is a pesky critter: the fact is that the cooperative was designed to be what the membership wants it to be, provided that our core goals of  helping our members “acquire and share the knowledge, skills, and resources they need in order to  grow, gather, raise, and catch healthful food as locally as possible and to preserve, store, prepare, and share the bounty”. That’s a mouthful. I like to say we’re here to help make local food happen, however we can. If a member wants to run a lending library of books (we have this at Kingfisher Books) or tools, run workshops on growing rabbits, catching fish, canning tomatoes, growing or picking mushrooms, baking bread, or run a bulk buying project that will help members get the best possible food or food-related product (seeds, plants, trees, growing or preserving supplies) at reasonable prices, they should be able to do so and get payment from those members or non-members who want to participate.

These activities help the membership gain the skills, materials and products at reasonable cost, while having a door open to non-members also opens the cooperative up to the wider community, since our goals include “building a strong community and a diverse local food economy based on mutual support, fair prices, living wages, and respect for the natural systems which sustain life”.

If you went on the local Edible Garden Tour this year (kicking off the  Annual 50-Mile Eat Local Challenge), you visited several Skookum members’ gardens, saw our Skookum cider press (the morning part of the tour) and probably talked with many Skookum members too! We have 137 memberships comprising 186 members at this point and we’re always looking for active members to increase the scope and to work on existing projects that need support. Tell your friends!

 

What it means to be a Community Service Cooperative

This is Part 2 in a short series on cooperatives, and specifically on Community Service Cooperatives, because that is the designation for Skookum.

As a cooperative, we adhere to all the rules as described here (there are 171 of them) based on the BC Cooperative Association’s Regulations. This includes the fact that cooperatives are owned by their members (that’s one member=one vote, as opposed to being based on amount invested/donated, making cooperatives very democratic entities), and that each member holds a stake in the cooperative, that can be redeemed at any time. At Skookum, this is represented by your share certificate that costs $20.

The gist of it: What’s A Community Service Cooperative?

  • The purpose of a Community Service Cooperative can be either charitable or to provide health, social, educational or other community services to members, with a responsibility to the wider community. While Skookum is a non-profit cooperative organization, we are eligible via this new Community Service Cooperative designation, to apply to the Canada Revenue Agency for charitable status, if we so wish.
  • Assets collected or donated may only directly support and grow the cooperative (providing members with services and access to information, events, tools, land, supplies etc.), Skookum cannot return profit shares to members (unlike Mountain Equipment Co-0p or First Credit Union), whether on a periodic basis nor upon dissolution of the cooperative.
  • If the cooperative were to dissolve, members would receive their initial share price, after satisfaction of its liabilities and the costs, charges and expenses properly incurred in the dissolution or winding up. Any further assets must be transferred to or distributed among one or more community service cooperative or a registered charitable organization.

Skookum is concerned with increasing the amount of food available locally, regardless of how it comes to people:

  • Grown: any kind of produce, grains, beans, etc.
  • Gathered: wild foods, gleaned fruits nuts, etc.
  • Raised: animals other domesticated food sources;
  • Caught: wild animals, fish, etc.
triplebottom-linegraphic-1
The Triple Bottom Line:
Healthy Community: we intend to produce benefits for the social life of the community, through the strengthening of ties among people, by respecting and honouring the work that people do to feed themselves and others;
Economic Vitality: we intend to produce economic opportunities for people, embedded in a vision of a fair and just economy which pays fair prices and fair wages;
Natural Environment: we intend to minimize waste and destructive practices as we go about our work.

In practical terms, the cooperative’s members are encouraged to reflect Skookum’s commitment to the three pillars of the Triple Bottom Line (social, environmental, economic) by creating and supporting projects that help members to grow, gather, catch, raise, preserve, prepare and share healthful food as locally as possible.

As a cooperative, Skookum is a ‘bottom-up’ organization that relies on the energy and ideas of its membership to address this Triple Bottom Line through engagement at the levels of governance, project management, and participation in the projects or events we develop/participate in.

Skookum has no paid staff, but projects are expected to provide for coordinator remuneration, while addressing our core values and purposes, and providing a percentage toward Skookum operating costs. Recent projects include a member-run bulk purchase of fruit trees, ongoing Tattler lid sales, Cover Crop sales, and The Abundant Pantry Bulk Buying Club (now offering Cafe Justicia fairer-than-fair trade coffee, and always more local products), but also the recent get-together and plans for more informational/fun events like seasonal potlucks, film screenings and guest presentations in the fall/winter to come. We are also planning another round of our yearly ‘Apple Cider Press-a-Thon’ at the 2013 Powell River Fall Fair on the weekend of September 21-22.

We are seeking helpers for this as well as materials to make it work even better, so contact us with how you want to help out or click here and come up with your own Skookum project; check this page out for inspiration.

 

 

Time to Can? Tattler Lids and Rings Available to Skookum Members

Tattler Time.

Tattler Time.

This post is an excerpt from a permanent page on our site. Find it here.

Skookum Food Provisioners’ Cooperative has Tatter Canning Lids and Rings for sale to members only.

Why Use Tattler Lids, and why buy them from Skookum?

  • Tattler lids are reusable up to and beyond 20 times over (those conventional rubber-coated metal lids are only recommended for single use; the rubber rings are reusable up to 5 or so times– you can buy they separately from Skookum as well)
  • They are therefore cheaper to use in the long run (and even ‘medium’ run)
  • Unlike most canned foods (in metal cans, and those in jars or in plastic most of which contain the chemical Bisphenol-A), Tattler lids do not contain Bisphenol-A (BPA), a very controversial chemical used in plastics industry and banned by some countries using these on baby products. 
  • Unlike single-use lids, Tattler lids are recyclable (they contain only one material: BPA-free plastic and as such can be recycled)
  • Tattler lids are also excellent for canning high-acid foods that can corrode through to metal lids and throw the flavours off.
  • Tattler lids are different from conventional canning lids and follow a different procedure for canning. There are instructions on their website and included on paper with each purchase of lids you make from Skookum. Failure to follow their specifications may lead to troubles using the lids.
  • Tattler lids are not recommended for pressure canning.
  • Tattler lids can be used for dry food storage as well!

You can buy Tattler lids via Skookum for the best price possible (about half of what you’d pay via Amazon.ca, for example… and no shipping costs! See for yourself here). More information on the lids at the company’s website: http://www.reusablecanninglids.com/

Our prices are as follows; to order, use our contact page and tell us what you’d like, then you can pick them up by arrangement from our Westview neighbourhood location (sorry, we cannot ship the lids, and this is for members only– you can become a member here for just $20 for a lifetime membership).

Remember also that 15% of your purchase price goes to fund Skookum projects, too! It’s a win-win-win situation: you get to buy a product that is not widely available in Canada, you’re encouraged to can local and in-season food, you get to help Skookum fund projects, and you save c. 45% off what you would normally have to pay for the lids!

Here are your choices:

  • Regular sized lids
    • 24-packs of regular lids + rubber rings .60 ea ($14.50)
    • 50-packs of same ($30);
  • Wide-mouth lids
    • 24-pack wide mouth lids + rubber rings  .70 ea ($17.00)
    • 50-packs of same ($35);
  • Individual extra rubber rings (wide and regular) .22 each in packs of 5  ($1.10 per pack).

_______________________________________________________________

We also have more cover crop seeds available so plant sow them as soon as you harvest a crop (like for e.g. garlic), to increase soil health and to keep weeds down.

William Dam seeds: 547 Peas 4010 and Oats 50/50 Mix Organic ($3 for a half-pound bag; shipping and tax, plus 10% going to support Skookum,  included in price.)

Best green manure for spring seeding. Very effective Nitrogen and biomass builder. 4010 peas are the best leafy forage peas for plowdown, producing over 40″ of green mass in 10 weeks. Oats will utilize available nitrogen, building soil structure, suppress weeds and provide quick growth while the peas fix nitrogen for following crop. Well suited for late summer/ fall seedlings as well. It is best practice to allow three weeks before seeding following crops. Mow down and work into soil at flowering. Seeding Rate: 2-3lb per 1000 sq. ft, 80-100lbs/acre drilled, 100-120lbs/acre broadcast.

Aside from adding organic matter to the soil, cover crops have many other purposes:

          • They reduce soil loss from water erosion.
          • They maintain soil surface infiltration, so it does not compact.
          • Cover crops improve soil tilth (structure).
          • They scavenge nutrients that might otherwise leach from the field.
          • They feed and provide shelter for birds, wildlife, and beneficial insects.
          • They fix nitrogen in the soil.

To purchase ($3 for 1/2 lb bag), contact us here or email giovanni (at) rabideye (dot) com.

Survey Results

surveyTop 5 Interests indicated by our members from our Skookum Members’ Skills Survey held in late 2012/early 2013

5. (TIE!) Seed-Saving and Cider/Wine-Making
4. (TIE!) Bulk Food Buying and Public Outreach + Facilitation
3. Food Preparation (cooking/baking)
2. Food Preserving (canning, smoking, dehydrating, pickling, lacto-fermentation, cheese-making, salting/ packing in sugar)
1. Gardening!

32 members responded to our recent survey (feel free to respond anytime as well), and we already have some positive action from several members, including:

  • A generous offer to fix and maintain our cider press, along with a backup option
  • An offer to host a summertime Skookum picnic on a member’s seaside property (more on this soon!)
  • And several members said they would keep an eye out for the materials we need to complete the Skookum Cider Press kit (see here for what we need; you can also donate money to the project via PayPal (accepting credit and debit card donations as well, and cheques too– click the PayPal link for more info).

Remember that a big ongoing Skookum project, The Abundant Pantry Bulk Food Buying Club (TAP), is taking orders until Sunday, May 12 at 11 pm. Make sure you get your orders in before this. The next order after this will be in July. For more information, contact the coordinator Wendy Pelton at bulkbuying@skokoumfood.ca.

Catching (and Wrapping) Up

Happy Holidays and thank you for helping to make local food happen.

It’s been a very busy Fall for Skookum so far this year; and as we head into 2013 it’s ‘whiplash time’ as we look back to see what we accomplished, and forward on how we can do more and better. 2012 was the UN-designated Year of the Cooperative and we are working on airing a 5-program series on cooperatives on CJMP 90.1 FM Community Radio before year end. Keep your ears (and eyes, as we will be promoting it) peeled.

You may remember seeing some pictures on our Facebook page  from our last event of 2012, as several of us helped press apple cider for James Thomson Elementary School’s Farm to School program. We had another successful Abundant Pantry order (next order will be mid-January 2013, check the site in January to order), and we’re just about ready to distribute over 500 lbs of dried fruit/nuts/confectionery from our second Rancho Vignola order that just came in.

Skookum is more than bulk buying, though, and we’d like to increase our workshops and other hands-on projects in 2013. That said, one great reason to have a cooperative is to be able to generate some buying power as a group, and in doing so, also help the community and the cooperative grow and increase self-sufficiency.

Buying seed together.

Last year just after Christmas, I started thinking about and then planning a bulk seed order. A dozen or so members got together and I coordinated an order from our local Eternal Seeds company, who gave us a 20% discount overall if we collectively bought 10 packets of any of their seeds (about 5% was allocated to Skookum and the coordinator). This year, the feedback indicates that we need to order earlier than the February 14th deadline we had last year, by at least a month.

If anyone out there would like to manage the seed order (and the project can be as different as you like), please drop us a line or fill out a short proposal here. Deadline for a proposal or indication of interest in managing this project is EXTENDED to Dec. 30, 2012. The deadline to order should be by Jan 14, 2013.

Below we have a list of our completed projects for 2012, and in addition to these, we have an on-going Abundant Pantry bulk food order every two months. All our past projects are listed on our past projects webpage.

January 2012:

  • Skookum held a potluck members’ social event to celebrate 2012, the UN International Year of the Co-op. Read the story here.

March 2012:

  • Bulk seed order from Eternal Seeds

June/July 2012:

  • Skookum held 2 home tanning workshops

August 2012:

  • Bulk purchase of fruit/vegetables and dehydrating work party at the Community Resource Centre

September 2012

  • Skookum’s second Tattler lid bulk order
  • Bulk purchase of Sausagemaker dehydrators
  • Skookum was at the Fall Fair, pressing cider and raising funds

October 2012

  • Second Rancho Vignola Fruit and Nut Bulk Order

November 2012

  • Skookum helps the local Farm to School project press apples for James Thomson Elementary School for a second year.

Goin’ Squirrely

Did someone say “nuts”?

Skookum is all about projects that serve our cooperative, and that benefit the co-op as well as the wider community, too. It’s members helping members to grow, pick, prepare, preserve, store, and share in the bounty of food.

The accent these early autumn days is on ‘store’ and ‘preserve’. With a mega-load bulk purchase of Tattler BPA-free reusable lids (drop by our table at the Fall Fair Sept 22-23, 2012 to buy a sample pack or extra rubber rings; help out with our apple cider pressing event there or donate apples to this Skookum fundraiser: Click here) and Excalibur dehydrators in, several small Skookum work parties where members processed, canned and dehydrated fruits and vegetables, and yet another Abundant Pantry bulk food purchase period under our belts, it’s time for the once-per-year order of this season’s freshest dried fruit, nuts, seeds, plus delicious and decadent confectionery from Rancho Vignola.


  • Rancho Vignola makes their product list available only once per year, when the nuts and fruit are at their freshest;
                          • The final deadline for our order to go in is September 27, BUT the final deadline for members to get their order and payment to us will be 12:00 noon on Monday September 24;
                          • They will ship to us in November or thereabouts;
                          • We need to make a minimum order of $500; Shipping is free
                          • Skookum will be adding 11.11% to each member’s order, so that of each dollar spent, 5¢ goes to the coordinator, 2.5¢ to Skookum, and another 2.5¢ to the benefit of the community.

What you need to do:

  • Take a look at Rancho Vignola’s price list click here.
  • If you have questions, please contact David as soon as possible at skookum@skookumfood.ca;
  • Otherwise:
    •  print out the attached price list
    • mark the products you wish to order, and
    • calculate the total price. Don’t forget to add 11.11% at the very end (i.e., not for each item individually, but on the final total; If you prefer, you may simply email David with the list of products you want and a final tally. He’ll verify the total amount and get back to you);
  • Get the order form and payment (cash or cheque only) to Kingfisher Books at 4468 Marine Ave. in Powell River no later than 12:00 noon on Monday September 24No money means no order!
  • We have a a splits page (click here), as we do for The Abundant Pantry Bulk-Buying Club. [For example, a member might want to order almonds but might not want the whole ten pound case (which has a better price than smaller units)]. If someone else wants to split that amount, then one of them can order it and then the two members can arrange to split it between them later.
  • To be clear: The coordinator WILL NOT MANAGE YOUR SPLITS; all splits will be between members, with one member ordering and paying for the entire item to be split.
  • Any questions? Please get in touch with David ASAP at skookum@skookumfood.ca

As always, members are encouraged to propose and run projects! Interested in running your own Skookum  project? Submit a quick proposal here.

Just the facts.

Call for orders of Tattler BPA-free Canning Lids (deadline EXTENDED TO MONDAY July 16 @ 9AM)

Click the picture above to visit the survey/details/order form

We haven’t been able to run this bulk-buying project since July 2010, so if you are interested in BPA-free reusable canning lids shipped from the US. This is a Members-Only project (Not a member yet? Click here to find out how to become one).

Click here to order via a simple online form.

Deadline to order EXTENDED TO MONDAY, JULY 16 at 9AM.

We need to reach a minimum order of 750 regular and 750 wide mouth lids+rings.

More info on the order form here.

If we do not as a group attain this number, there will be no order.


More information on what these are and why to use them: http://www.reusablecanninglids.com/

Just a couple of points of interest…

  • The lids and rubber rings are reusable (the lids more than the rings, which are reusable at least 15 times, it would seem)
  • The lids are plastic but BPA-free (a good thing!)
  • There is no waste like there is with conventional lids (where you throw away the lids each time)
  • Their Regular Mouth Lids and Rings are 70 mm and the Wide Mouth Lids and Rings are 86 mm.
  • Metal (reusable) screw-top rings must be purchased seperately but are available in town. Do you have a lot of extra ones? Let me know — we can share them amongst members who need them if/when they pick up their lids (giovanni@rabideye.com)

 

 

Announcing the Abundant Pantry Bulk-Buying Project

Wendy is waiting for you to pick up your bulk food...

Exciting news! After many months of planning and hard work, Skookum’s Abundant Pantry Bulk-Buying Project is ready for prime time! The coordinator Wendy Pelton and her husband Barry Bookout have created a fantastic website for Skookum members to place their bimonthly orders for bulk food and all members of Skookum Food Provisioners’ Cooperative are invited to sign up and check it out.

Here’s how it works:

  • In the odd months (January, March, May, July, September, & November), Skookum members who have signed up with The Abundant Pantry will be invited to shop for bulk goods, using the new website;
  • Members can work together to split bags or cases, using the splits page;
  • The deadline for each order will be the second Sunday of the month;
  • Once we have closed the website and received the orders for that month, we pass our collective order to Melissa Call at Sunshine Organics/Ecossentials, who acts as our local distributor;
  • Ferries permitting, our order will come in on the following Wednesday and be ready for members on the Thursday of that week to come up to Melissa’s warehouse in Wildwood and get their food.

We currently have access to the catalogue from Horizon Distributors and plans are afoot to get other distributors’ catalogues into our online ordering system. Stay tuned.

The project's mascot, Skooky, created by Giovanni Spezzacatena

Beyond that, one of the most exciting aspects of this online ordering site is that we can list local producers and their products there for our members to buy in bulk quantities. Currently, our only local distributor is Skookum member Mischa Brooks-Thoma, the Powell River Natural Soap Lady, but Wendy is hard at work finding more local food other products for us. If you have suggestions, contact her. (Local producers whom we buy from do not need to be members.)

We’re also thinking ahead to frozen refrigerated products, but we plan to run a few simple orders before we start complicating things.

In February, we ran a small test run, and everything (well, almost!) went off without a hitch. And so we are now ready to try a larger order with more members involved. The order deadline this time around will be 11:00 PM on Sunday March 11, and the pickup day will be Thursday March 15.

You can check out the current catalogue here. (Please note that the full catalogue might take some time to load if you’re on a slow internet connection.) Information about joining The Abundant Pantry Bulk-Buying Club and getting your own secure online login information is here.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to email Wendy or phone her at (604) 485-6664.


On behalf of all our members who will benefit from having a simple accessible online bulk ordering system, the Skookum board would like to acknowledge the contributions of the ‘guinea pigs’ of the pilot order, as well as Melissa Leigh, who has helped with invaluable advice on bookkeeping procedures financial sanity; Mischa Brooks-Thoma, for being the first local producer providing so much useful feedback; and above all, Wendy and Barry, who have given us so many hours of hard work trying to get the website all the procedures in order. Thank you, all!