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.

 

 

Last Call for Cooperative Seed Order


This is the last call for joining in our Skookum Bulk Seed Project for 2012. More information can be found in a post I put out on January 15th.

I Heart Seeds

IMPORTANT: FEB. 14 at noon is the cut-off for Skookum’s Seed order for 2012!

  • Please note that we have 29 types of seeds available at 25% discount if we manage to get 10 packets of any particular variety. These are seeds you will likely NOT find at Seedy Saturday (except from seed vendors at full price).
  • We need to cooperatively order at least 10 packets of any single kind of seed to proceed with the ordering of that seed variety. If we have fewer than 10 orders of any variety, we will not get the 25% discount from our local supplier (Eternalseed.ca),and we will not order that variety.
  • I know that many of you have already made plans to buy seeds using your usual method, but it would help a lot if you considered buying even a few seed varieties through this service Skookum is offering, as an order of fewer than 10 packets will not go through, thus affecting others’ orders.
  • See which seeds have been ordered by clicking here. If you can possibly contribute to this project by topping up the seed varieties that are close to 10 packets right now (maybe an investment of $3-$5), this would be helpful (plus you do get the seeds after all, at a 25% discount over retail)
  • Want to order some seeds? Look at the varieties and descriptions on offer here.  Email Giovanni(at)rabideye(dot)com with the variety name and number of packets you want, and I will get back to you.

Skookum’s Celebratory Social

A look at the Skookum Social (Jan 31, 2012)

The members of Skookum Food Provisioners’ Cooperative gathered at Trinity Hall in Powell River on January 31 2012 to celebrate our first public gathering for 2012, the United Nations International Year of the Cooperative. The salad/dessert pot-luck event attracted over 30 of our 101 members. The meal was centred around Jacqueline Huddleston’s delicious risotto and quiche dishes, and graciously emceed by member Alison Taplay. A special gift basket was awarded in absentia to Nansi McKay and Nancy Tyler (members #100 and 101), and presentations by Wendy Pelton, coordinator of The Abundant Pantry Bulk-Buying Project and by directors David Parkinson and Giovanni Spezzacatena provided lots of news about what’s going on with our cooperative.

Here is some of what we talked about:

    • Alison talked about 2012 Year of the Cooperative, and set up an informal agenda for the evening, ending with a call for ideas on new projects and for helping hands to organize and implement existing ones;
    • Wendy Pelton gave us a major update on The Abundant Pantry Bulk-Buying Club, which is about to be launched;
    • Giovanni Spezzacatena talked briefly about the Bulk Seed Project (deadline Feb 14, 2012), and on Skookum Members’ Survey Results;
    • The Skookum Community Bookshelf was introduced: this is a Skookum Cooperative initiative by Director Sharon Deane and Melissa Leigh where members may donate books that they feel would be appropriate to cooperative member use to this project housed in Kingfisher Used Books. A dedicated bookshelf will be set up letting only Skookum members borrow these materials. Contact Sharon at the store for more information;
    • David Parkinson reported on the Skookum Gleaners project. The upshot is that key Skookum members have devoted a lot of time and effort to this community project, to little benefit to the cooperative, while other projects more in tune with our purposes have suffered. The board of Skookum has voted to let this project go, but encourage members to reach out to us if they want to pursue this project outside of the cooperative;
    • David also briefly introduced the concept of a Community Orchard that may prove to be the evolution of Gleaners. Please reach him if you have an interest in this up-coming project.

A couple of items that got a little lost in the fray, but we’ll pick up on these in future posts and gatherings:

    •  Skookum co-presents the feature documentary film How to Make a Farm) at Powell River Film Festival;
    • Skookum’s board wants to set up a Project Selection and Development Team to help in selecting viable projects from member proposals, and guide the process;
    • We want to set up a crack team that will be focused on Fundraising Events, to help fund Skookum projects, and to engage members; contact Giovanni if you are interested.

Skookum September! (A snapshot of what we’re up to)

Just before the harvest: Skookum’s Experimental Oat Patch.
Oats ready for transport
Makeshift oat drying area.

It has been a pretty busy September for Skookum, and it’s not letting up. The BPA-free canning lid order is complete, and a dozen or so members have some of the tools we need to get canning! If anyone has extra canning rings, please consider donating them, as the new lids don’t come with these metal rings. Skookum collected an extra $25 from members donating to the cider press fund.

Stay tuned for the new Cider Press Rules to be published on this blog any day now, detailing the fees, conditions, and tips on members’ use of our cider press.

We are still collecting prizes for the Skookum 50-Mile Eat Local Challenge Haiku contest (read the amazing entries (and submit one yourself!) at: http://pr50.wordpress.com/haiku) Please contact Giovanni Spezzacatena at  Giovanni@skookumfood.ca if you want to donate a gift! Thanks!

Three of our Board members (Sharon, David, and Giovanni) managed to get together — despite the rainy weather we’ve been having — to pick our oats from the borrowed patch of land in Wildwood. We used scissors and a scythe to collect what we could, and we’re drying them for a few weeks in another borrowed space. Then, we’ll figure out what’s next. We figure we will use the harvest as seed for next year’s larger plot. If you have a patch of land available (especially in town), let us know! (skookum@skookumfood.ca or call us at 604.485.7940.)

But there’s more! This Sunday, Nicole Narbonne and Will Langlands will host a Skookum members-only Tomato-Can-A-Thon work party!

We are also planning some exciting activities for Co-op week (Oct. 17-23), which will involve community access to the cider press!

And even more! We’re hoping to make a bulk purchase of nuts from Rancho Vignola!

Calling all Skookum members!
Does this early fall weather have you squirreling away food for winter?
If so, you might want to get in on a once a year opportunity to bulk order fruit and nut products from Rancho Vignola.
Each September, the BC-based, family-run Rancho Vignola offers bulk purchases of dried fruit and nuts at wholesale prices.
We thought we’d put this out to the membership, and see if there was interest in doing an order. If we put our orders together, it should be easy to exceed the $500 minimum order limit.
But … there is a catch, we have to act FAST. All orders HAVE TO be submitted to Rancho by September 27, no exceptions. And what that means for us is that all orders have to be submitted to me ABSOLUTELY NO LATER THAN NOON ON SEPTEMBER 26.
Interested? Read on… Here’s how it will work:
HOW TO ORDER:
View the attached Product Description form and Wholesale Price List from Rancho Vignola. Select the items you want (by case or 5lb bag only), and let me know via email (nolapoirier@gmail.com) the items you would like to order. Please write the name just like it appears on the order form (or email me a filled out form), so there is no confusion. I will reply with a confirmation email.
Important! When working out your costs, you need to add 15% to each price.
  • 5% of this will go to Skookum,
  • 5% to the community (this is part of Skookum’s mandate),
  • 5% to me (Nola), as an incentive to members and Board members to coordinate efforts like this.
For example: A 5lb bag of raw, organic almonds (second item on the list) is $51.50 on the price list. So your cost is:
$51.50 +  15%, which is: $51.50 + ($51.50 X 0.15) = $51.50 + 7.73 = $59.23
But, Rancho Vignola will ship our order to Powell River for Free! So you don’t need to worry about an added shipping charge. Remember to get your order in to me on, or ideally before, noon on Sept 26.
If we don’t get to the $500 minimum, we won’t be able to do an order. I’ll let you know if this is the case, ASAP.
HOW TO PAY:
Our order must be prepaid, so please drop payment off at Kingfisher Books at 4468 Marine Ave. no later than noon on September 26. Please pay with cheques or cash (no credit card payments, sorry). Make cheques out to Skookum Food Provisioners’ Cooperative or just SFPC). Ensure your name is together with the payment (i.e., in an envelope or paperclip).
Don’t forget to add 15% to the listed price of each item.
Any questions about the process? – send them my way: nolapoirier@gmail.com
Any questions about the products that aren’t answered on the product description attached? Contact Rancho Vignola @ info@ranchovignola.com (note they don’t answer their phone).
PRICE LIST (again, add 15% to these prices) (158 KB): CLICK HERE

ITEM DESCRIPTIONS: CLICK HERE (740 KB)
Nola Poirier
604 487 0807

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