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!

 

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).

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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.

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).

Creating a Skookum Cider Press Kit

Skookum's cider press
Skookum’s cider press

Hey there members, it’s time to freshen up the Skookum cider press with some maintenance and repairs (anyone willing and able to help with this, please contact skookum@skookumfood.ca) AND we really need to set up a proper kit of materials that can accompany the cider press as it is loaned out to members, or used for public demonstrations/ pressings such as at the Fall Fair. So far, we have borrowed materials each time we need to do a group pressing, which is great. Problem is, it takes an immense amount of time and coordination to reconstruct the kit from scratch every time. So, if you have any of this equipment to donate to Skookum, then please consider it sooner rather than later. Used is fine, if functional.

Email us at skookum@skookumfood.ca to find out where and when you can drop off the materials. We will post what we have received (and what is left on the shopping list below), and send out reminders periodically.

If you cannot donate the materials or equipment, then please consider a monetary donation to the “Creating a Skookum Cider Press Kit” via PayPal, Debit or Credit card or by cheque (c/o SFPC and mail or drop off at Kingfisher Books 4486 Marine Ave. Powell River, BC  V8A 2K2 CANADA). We’ll go on a shopping spree in late summer and try to complete the list.

We accept PR$
We accept PR$

Of course, we accept Powell River Dollars (PR$) too; just drop off your donation at Kingfisher Books. And thanks! Please remember that your membership dollars ($20 for a lifetime membership and redeemable at any time) represent individual shares in Skookum; you own the cooperative as much as any other member. The funds raised through memberships are kept for the most part in reserve, and are not used to cover expenses.

Equipment needed (prices approx.)

(Click on the big “Grow Our Co-op” button at right to make a donation toward any piece of equipment)

canopyBasic set up:

  •  2 awnings (aka event tents or canopies or gazebos) c. $450
  • 2 tarps: 1 to put underneath the cider press and 1 to cover it up overnight (as for Fall fair) c. $50
  • 3 smaller tables (hand washing station; prep table; pasteurization/double boiler set up table) c. $175
  • 1 large table (usually supplied by the Fall Fair) for front service counter. c. $100
  • 2 water hoses (to bring the water closer to you b/c pressing requires a lot of water) c. $65
  • 2 hose splitters (so you won’t be accused of hogging the communal hose and you won’t have to keep running to the tap to turn the hose on) c. $50
  • 2 garbage cans per day for apple crud (or more if you’ll be doing lots of apples) ; with wheels! c. $65
  • Metal Ramp (to allow the press to be rolled or pushed up into a flatbed truck or vehicle) c. $250

waterSanitation:

  • Large hands-free water container with “tap” for hand washing station c. $23
  • Plastic buckets for waste water (1or 2) c. $18
  • Bleach, pump soap, paper towels (1 each) c. $12
  • Stout spray bottle for bleach sanitizing solution c. $10
  • Cloth rags $5

Processing apples:primaryferm

  • 2 Large food grade, clean plastic tubs (like primary fermenters) for washing apples pre-pressing. 10 gallons ea. c. $80
  • Some large buckets or Rubbermaid to hold the washed apples (4) $40
  • 2 buckets to catch the cider as it flows from the press $20
  • 2 large cutting boards (wood or hard plastic) $20
  • Various knives including a few paring knives (minimum 4) $60
  • 3 or 4 large stainless bowls to put the prepared apples into $40
  • Funnel and strainer $20

Keeping cider cold:

  • Ice packs (several) c.$35
  • (8-12 large bags of ice– one-time purchase on days of event)
  • 2 very large coolers c.$70
  • Biodegradable paper cups (about 250) available from Aaron Vending:  some small for “tasters” and large for selling cold cider. Napkins. c.$35

burnerKeeping cider hot:

  • Matches or lighter $2
  • Propane gas burners (2) $150
  • Hot plate $25
  • Extension cords (3) $30
  • Large canner for boiling water bath $35
  • Large pot to fit inside canner to keep cider hot w/lid $30
  • Ladles (2)
  • Pot holders (6) $40
  • Stem thermometer $25
  • Cider spice sachets (6) $12
  • Mugs for selling cups of hot cider (must be washed and reused, not possible at all locations) $20

clothOther:

  • Some attractive one-colour tablecloths to enhance booth “eye appeal” 4X: $60
  • Blackboard for noting wares and prices $30
  • tracking sheet
  • Tally sheets on clipboards to keep track of sales
  • Pens
  • Bug spray and sting relief (for bees/wasps; antihistamine) $20
  • Paper bags and ties as wasp deterrents (in a bad wasp year, use lots!) $3

Optional (if for Fall Fair or other demo)

  • Info sheets on upcoming or happening projects
  • Waterproof Displays of whatever relevant kind to enhance booth eye appeal and advertise the coop and its mission, pens, sign up sheets for Skookum and press info.
  • Compact chairs for weary workers to sit on!

Show us what you love to do & win film festival tickets!

Click the picture to take the 3-minute survey and you can win tickets for 2 to the Powell River Film Festival (Feb 19-24, 2013)
Click the picture to take the 2-minute survey and you can win tickets for 2 to the Powell River Film Festival (Feb 19-24, 2013)

As a cooperative, we want to know more about you: what your concerns are, what your skills and interests are, and what you feel you can do to help strengthen our cooperative and the larger community. We encourage each member to commit to initiating or participating in projects, joining a committee, serving on the board of directors, and helping with events and tasks as they arise. No pressure, though. Just take the short ‘n snappy survey now (2 minutes of your time) click here BY THURSDAY FEBRUARY 14 (yes, Valentine’s Day) and we will return the love via a random draw of two pairs of tickets for two, to the Powell River Film Festival (Feb 19-24, 2013)!

If you’ve already taken this survey, thank you! You are automatically entered in our random draw!

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)

 

 

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

Members-Only Tomato Canning Bash Sept 19, 2010

Tomato canning bashCalling all Skookum members!

As I mentioned a while ago, we’re planning a day to get some folks together in the Four Square Gospel Church’s kitchen to can tomatoes. The wonderful Nicole Narbonne and Will Langlands are going to be the chefs de cuisine for the day, since they are old hands at canning tomatoes.

The purpose is partly to learn how to safely can tomatoes, but also to do it together, have fun, and really blast through a lot of tomatoes for winter storage.

Details are being worked out, but it goes something like this:

  • We get going in the morning, around 9:00 or so;
  • We work together to can as many quarts of tomatoes as we can do, all working together;
  • Everyone pays equally for a share of the final product (payment covers cost of ingredients: tomatoes, salt, lemon juice);
  • Will & Nicole get some kind of extra share or payment for their time and expertise;
  • The Four Square Gospel Church also gets a share of the final product as payment for the use of their kitchen;
  • Everyone who participates gets to go home with their share: we’re hoping that this share will be at least a dozen quarts, but that depends on tomatoes, time, equipment, etc.

If you would like to participate, please reply to us as soon as you can (email: skookum@skookumfood.ca ). If there are more participants than we can accommodate, we will choose by lottery (fair & square). If there is a lot of interest, we might try to schedule another similar canning bash before the good tomatoes disappear.

We’re hoping that participants can help us get enough jars, lids, funnels, canners, cutting boards, knives, and so on. Stay tuned for more info about that.

If you know of a reliable local source of good canning-type tomatoes, please let us know right away!! Thanks.