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.

 

 

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.

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.

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!

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.