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

Come out for Skookum’s ‘Cinco de Mayo’ AGM on Tuesday May 5, 2015

agmskookumlarge

It’s Skookum’s sixth Annual General Meeting and we’re making it one to remember. Mark your calendars now so you won’t forget!

TUESDAY, MAY 5 (cinco de mayo), at the United Church (Trinity Hall) at the corner of Michigan & Duncan, kitty-corner from Powell River City Hall.

Come straight from work and help set up if you like, or show up at 6:00 PM for food and socializing, with the AGM proper starting at 7:00 PM.

It’s a Mexican fiesta this year, with complimentary (and muy rico) main courses provided by Skookum member Jacqueline Huddleston (tacos, mole poblano with cheese on the side, vegan enchiladas with cheese on the side, & flan) with side dishes provided by your Board of Directors.

We will have Tattler reusable canning lids (the last batch on offer) and they are on SALE, plus we’ll also have Powell River Dollars on hand to exchange for you.

There are some big changes coming, what with a number of new directors coming on this time around, so please make an extra effort to come out to our AGM this year. Remember that a Skookum membership is a lifetime membership, so no need to renew it. Just bring your appetite and your ideas! We’ll feed you and regale you with news and updates on the past year’s activities, including a look at how our The Abundant Pantry project is progressing (deadline for the new order is coming up on May 10th), and more…“mi cooperativa es su cooperativa.”

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.

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.

Save the Date! AGM Thursday, May 2 at 7PM

agmskookSave the Date! Our Annual General  Meeting (AGM) will be held on Thursday, May 2 at 7:00 PM at the United Church’s Trinity Hall (kitty-corner to City Hall at 6932 Crofton Street).

Feel free to bring along some snacks and desserts, but we will lay on a nice spread of snacks and beverages, so no worries.

You will be all be getting a notice in the mail (along with your newly revamped share certificates) soon, but here is a rough look at what our AGM will look like:

  • A progress report for the past year, including a report on how we did financially.
  • Elections for four directors (interested in joining the seven-member volunteer board? We’re looking for a few ‘passionate-about-food’ members with talents and time to put toward this amazing project we call Skookum). Contact us if you are interested or want more info.
  • Fabulous Door Prizes! (Do you also want to donate a local food or related item? Let us know.)
  • An update on how Powell River Dollars can benefit the co-op, and an opportunity to buy some PR$.
  • After the formalities, we’ll enjoy our delicious refreshments and a fun ‘Meet-and-Greet’ event to get to know your wonderful fellow members. Please also bring some treats too if you can– finger food and desserts, especially vegan and gluten free options welcome); we know we have some of the best bakers in Powell River amongst our membership and we want to help you showcase your skills!
  • A chance to buy some newly-ordered Tattler reusable BPA-free Canning Lids (see below for more info).
  • Remember the blog post we put out on cover crops? Well, they arrived a bit too late for Seedy Saturday, but we will have cover-crop seed samplers (1/2-pound packets of an Organic Pea & Oat mix for $3.00 each). These are crops that add nutrients, loosen  your soil, and suppress weeds in your garden beds.
  • It looks as though we will have some Cafe Justicia Fair Trade “Plus” Coffee on sale too!
  • Find out more about our Bulk Buying Club, The Abundant Pantry, too in time for the May 12 springtime shopping deadline! What amazing products for the lowest possible prices. Find out more here: http://skookumfood.ca/bulk-buying/members/faq.php).

Well, there will surely be even more going on at the Skookum AGM, too.

See you there on Thursday, May 2!


More about Tattler lids

This time we’re selling Tattler lids at even lower prices! They’re about half the price you’d pay via Amazon.ca (and 15% of the cost goes to support Skookum). We ask members to limit purchases to 100 lids ea. at this point, to allow more members to take advantage. After the AGM, we will offer the lids on a per-order basis.

We will have:

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

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.

The joys of helping with The Abundant Pantry

By Christine Dudgeon

Christine and Zoe working on the September food sort

In September I helped at The Abundant Pantry pickup day. I arrived at 1:00 PM to help sort the stack of cases and bags into separate piles of each member’s order. I wasn’t doing it alone, Zoe was there to help. Wendy was also nearby but was sorting paperwork.

It took a while to get into a rhythm but we had fun. Zoe and I tried to each pick one member’s order and pull out the products for that order, then move on to the next. That wasn’t working well, as there was a stack of about ten 10-kg bags of wheat, quinoa, and oats to dig through. So instead we would pick up a box or bag and try to remember which person’s list we had seen it on. Part puzzle and part memory game.

The best part was seeing the variety of products ordered. It is much easier to get ideas of things to try from seeing them: Ground Chipotle Peppers – I never saw that on the website list but it sounds intriguing. Two separate people ordered Bob’s Red Mill Mighty Tasty Hot Cereal. That seems like a good endorsement, I may have to try it. There were about five bags of quinoa. I can see it has become a very popular staple in many households. I may have to get more serious about finding recipes for it. There were also the sacks of dried beans, cases of tomatoes and salsa and ginger ale, boxes of rice penne and kamut linguine. And the Camino cocoa—a 5 kg box—I wish I was bringing that one home…

As for my own order, I now have enough oats (11 kg) to last through months of granola and apple crisps. And my wonderful smelling cinnamon sticks and cloves arrived just in time to make a new batch of my chai tea concentrate.

So if you are ordering through The Abundant Pantry and want some inspiration, volunteer to help on the pickup day. You’ll find food you never noticed on the website.

We’re a-puttin’ on up!

Ant collecting food for tougher times

‘Putting up’ is a colloquial term referring to the process of canning : preserving foods by packing them into glass jars and then heating the jars to kill the organisms that would create spoilage. But along with canning, other food preserving methods such as dehydrating, pickling in salt, vinegar, sugar or alcohol, smoking food to preserve it, lacto-/wild fermentation and (of course) freezing it are all ways to extend the ’50-mile eat local’ goal year-round.

Growing it yourself is one great way to ensure your own food security and the quality of the produce you eat. And as you learn about your own yard’s microclimate (see here for Powell River details) and develop your gardening skills, you will see what grows best for you, and adapt what you eat to what grows well, or at least to set up a bartering system where you can trade your zucchini for your neighbour’s carrots. Exercise, fresh air, sunshine and the joy and satisfaction from growing your own add to the value of turning ‘sod to salad’.

Aug 5-Sept 23, 2012: The 50-day Powell River 50 Mile Eat Local Challenge! It all starts with the Edible Garden Tour on Sun. Aug. 5 Click on the snail for more info…

Once again, this year, the 4th Annual Edible Garden Tour (Sunday, August 5; get the guide here) allows you to visit a dozen or so local food gardens to see how others are doing it. Don’t miss this opportunity!

But what about food you can’t easily grow or source locally? Well, that’s when Skookum Food Provisioners’ Cooperative’s The Abundant Pantry project (TAP) comes in. Every two months (the next deadline is September 9, 2012) our hard-working TAP coordinator Wendy Pelton collects Skookum members’ orders of bulk food and two or three days later, she (with some help from members) divides and provide us with our bundles of food we ordered.

French Green Lentils soaking

The benefits of buying in bulk are many, including:

  • Increasing your own (and your local community’s) food security in case of any disruption or lack of certain foods throughout the year. For example, the many drought-striken areas in the US will reduce availability and increase costs at the supermarket— like the ant at the top, think ahead!
  • Buying in bulk can dramatically reduce your costs: the more you buy, the more you save! This means that that you can often buy Organic and better quality food for the same price (or less than) you would pay in stores for conventionally-grown food. Plus, with our co-op structure, you can split orders, and get to meet other members, setting up a network of foodie friends to split orders in the future as well. As Pete Tebbutt recently put it:

“Some of the items I purchased I balked at, at first…..why do I need 12 bottles of Tamari?, for instance.  Well, who knew one could turn Tamari into balsamic vinegar or maple syrup into chocolate, which I did by trading with other members.”

  • With the recent focus on reducing packaging and trash as promoted by our friends at Let’s Talk Trash, buying a larger amount of dry staple foods like salt, flour, sugar, grains and legumes at one time will reduce your use of unnecessary packaging like plastic bags and tubs, tin cans, glass and cardboard boxes. Remember that even if the packaging is recycled, there are serious environmental impacts in the production, transportation and recycling these materials. Find out more on reducing your plastic use here.
  • Having a store of bulk staples foods means your family will eat healthier by avoiding the temptation of buying pre-cooked frozen or processed foods from the supermarket because of sheer convenience. If you have a bucket of dried beans right there in your home, you will use them. We all know how bad that extra salt, sugar/corn syrup, extra fat and preservatives hidden away in processed foods are for us; it feels good to actually take action and get into the habit of eating better
  • Having a store of food also reduces your trips to the supermarkets, which is good for the environment and for your own fuel consumption (and the cost of this in various ways including time, gas, vehicle wear-and-tear, etc.)
  • Buying via our Abundant Pantry project is easy, there is a wide and ever-growing array of foods available (including some local providers of soap and rabbits, and more) and a very small portion of each order goes to help Skookum fund other projects. It’s a win-win-win situation, so try it out! Follow the image (and habits) of Skooky the Squirrel. click here.
Click above to get the acorn rolling…

Skookum’s Abundant Pantry Bulk-Buying Club is growing fast

The front page of your bulk-buying club

Well, we’ve made it through one test order in February, and another larger order in March, so it looks as though the Abundant Pantry Bulk-Buying Club is really a going concern. We invite all members of Skookum Food Provisioners’ Cooperative to explore the bulk-buying website, where you can:

  • visit our current product selection;
  • link to our FAQ page;
  • read about one of our local producers; and
  • learn how to become a local producer, yourself.

Consider joining The Abundant Pantry, where shopping is easy thanks to our online shopping cart system, and there is no pressure to order, because we have no minimum.

Here is some of the progress we’re making behind the scenes:

  • We now have a working Advisory Team meeting monthly to support our Coordinator Wendy Pelton and our web programmer Barry Bookout. Thank you to Skookum members Dan Glover, Pete Tebbutt, and Laura Wallace for stepping forward to take on this extremely important work!
  • Wendy has been conducting a survey of member satisfaction and the Advisory Team is using this feedback to improve the website and the ordering and pickup system.
  • The splits page got quite a workout on the March order. Members are already getting better at working together to split sacks and cases, so that everyone benefits from low prices while still able to buy smaller quantities — a perfect example of cooperation in action!
  • The Advisory Team is hard at work developing policies and procedures to allow us to offer local farm produce and other products from the Upper Sunshine Coast. We’re really excited by the possibilities, so stay tuned for more news.
  • We’re thinking ahead to providing refrigerated and frozen products.

If you’re keen to participate in Powell River’s fastest-growing bulk-buying club — one that benefits your cooperative, your community, and our fabulous Coordinator Wendy Pelton — then find out how to join here. Our next order deadline will be Sunday May 13 at 11:00 PM, and the pickup day will be the following Thursday, May 17 from 2:00 PM to 6:00 PM.

Just one of the benefits of membership in Powell River’s one and only non-profit cooperative!

If you have any questions, you may direct them to Wendy at bulkbuying@skookumfood.ca or call (604) 485-6664 after 11:00 AM.

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!