Skookum Co-op Week Event

We had around 50 people come out on a foggy night in Powell River BC’s Cranberry neighbourhood for our guest speaker Tom Shandel’s film screening and discussion. We were very lucky to have Tom’s experience and insights into the co-op/credit union world.

We thank First Credit Union and their representative Tara Chernoff for their support on what was Credit Union Day (Oct 17), and all our participating members, especially Aaron Mazurek and family for hosting Tom Shandel and his partner, as well as to Jacqueline Huddleston for putting out an appie extravaganza and for her general tireless work for our cooperative.

Many thanks also to Jan Burnikell who is also always there as a constant support. Kudos also to our Skookum guest speakers/co-organizers David Parkinson (Secretary, Past-President), Laura Berezan (Treasurer), and to all those who showed up with equipment and assistance in setting up/tearing down, and driving us around to get this event happening.

We do have an audio recording of the event, that needs to be edited. Skookum has a copy of the film we viewed, plus 2 other versions that relate directly to Social Co-ops (elder care, drug rehab co-ops, especially), and to the Emilia-Romagna, Italy model. This DVD and another title by Tom Shandel will be made available to members through our Skookum Bookshelf (our lending library that you should really check out and even contribute to…) at Kingfisher Books on Marine Ave., shortly.

If you missed it… here is the dynamic slideshow that preceded the event, click here.

Tara Chernoff ‘s very relevant and timely reference to a Tyee article on 5 Things we Don’t Know About Co-ops, and you can read it right here.

And here is a version of the film (but not exactly the one that played last night) here in two parts:

Part 1: http://youtu.be/0UtRO24C_IA

Part 2: http://youtu.be/ThmIy0aqRBQ

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.

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!

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 co-presents the film “To Make A Farm”

Skookum Food Provisioners’ Cooperative is happy to co-sponsor (with Transition Town Powell River) the feature documentary, To Make a Farm (Canada, 2011) On Saturday February 18, 2012 at the Powell River Film Festival. See below for details, and a clip from the film.

Sat. Feb 18 at 12:30PM, PR Recreation Complex. Click to see large version

Synopsis: Starting a farm from scratch takes more than just imagination, but it’s a good place to start. Often considered a way of life from the past, today there is a movement of young people without farming backgrounds taking up this challenging profession. To Make A Farm follows the lives of five such young people through their first seasons on the land, as the joys and disappointments of bringing life from the earth become a quiet manifesto for social change. Documentary filmmaker Steve Suderman searches his own family history in farming to wonder if the mistakes of the past can be avoided this time through.

To Make A Farm – preview 1 from Steve Suderman on Vimeo.

Dehydrating Feast!

         Drying Foods Naturally

           Day 1                                                              Day 2

– Why dehydrate?                                         -How to wrapstore

– Using your dehydrator year round           -Divide portions

-Features of a good dehydrator                   -How dry is dry?

-Temperature, time & attention                  -What else can I dehydrate?

-Prep  work                                                    -Reconstituting

-Dry leather, fruit bars & spaghetti            -Tasting the fruit of our labor

-Marinate meatfish overnight             -Sharing more recipes

Fee: Skookum members $30
Non-members $45*

Payable to “Skookum Food Provisioner’s Cooperative”
Purchase at Kingfisher Used Books by
November 20th 2011

*(SFPC Lifetime memberships are $20: to apply, click here)


Our “Growing a Co-op” event was a big hit!

On Wednesday February 9, 2011, Skookum brought Carol Murray up to Powell River to spread the word about cooperatives, what they can do, and how to get them going. Carol is the Director of Co-op Development at the BC Co-operative Association, and is one of the people who helped Skookum’s initiating group find its bearings and get through the early stages of planning and incorporation.

Some of the amazing food prepared by Skookum members Jacqueline MoralesFran Cudworth

Skookum planned this public event in the spirit of the fifth principle of the International Co-operative Alliance’s Statement on the Co-operative Identity (emphasis mine): “Co-operatives provide education and training for their members, elected representatives, managers, and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their co-operatives. They inform the general public — particularly young people and opinion leaders — about the nature and benefits of co-operation.”

Skookum signed on to a very slightly amended version of these seven principles when we crafted our own statement of principles,  and we endeavour to live up to themcommunicate them to members  and others.

We wanted to create an opportunity for people to learn more about cooperatives, since we learned when we got started that there is a lot of misinformation and confusion out there.

A pretty full house! And somehow enough food to go around...

Carol spent most of the day on Wednesday meeting with various people and groups who had indicated that they were interested in having a sit-down meeting to talk about a cooperative idea they were thinking about. And then on Wednesday evening she made a presentation to packed room in Trinity Hall at the Powell River United Church.

But before we got to the presentation, there was food: Skookum member Jacqueline Morales prepared two delicious lasagne made with pasta from flour locally-milled by Periwinkle Granary. Fran Cudworth of Periwinkle Granary also prepared fresh garlic breadfantastic vegan pizza in honour of Carol Murray, who is vegan. Members brought salads and desserts, and amazingly we managed to feed everyone who showed up, although the turnout was somewhat larger than we anticipated. Maybe cooperatives are one more people’s minds than we thought…

Carol Murray in action

Carol presentedtook questions from the floor. You can view or download her PowerPoint presentation here. One thing is certain from the conversations that Carol had earlier in the day and from the questions that people were asking: there is considerable interest in cooperative housing  and land ownership. There are a lot of people keen to farm and create collective projects requiring land, but the cost of land  remains too high for many people, especially younger people in the region. Skookum hopes that we can make progress on that front, since access to land  for community agricultural projects is certainly something we’re thinking about for the future.

We wish to thank the Powell River Food Security Project, First Credit Union,the BC Co-operative Association for helping us put on this event; Fran and Jacqueline for the most wonderful food I’ve ever seen at a free public event; all our members who helped with donated food and labour; and everyone who showed up. Most of all, we thank Carol, who was extremely generous with her timedid a great job of spreading the word about cooperatives.

Skookum’s first event of 2011: Growing a Co-op

Hello and welcome to 2011!

Skookum Food Provisioners’ Cooperative is proud to present our first event of the new year: we’re bringing in Carol Murray, Director of Co-op Development for the BC Co-operative Association.

Gorgeous poster by our very own Giovanni Spezzacatena (AKA rabideye).

There is a lot of interest around the region in forming cooperatives for various purposes: food co-ops, land co-ops, farming co-ops, housing co-ops, and more. I know, because people often ask me about how we formed Skookum, and also people are often discussing the sorts of challenges and projects that seem suited to a cooperative solution.

If you’ve ever wanted to know more about how co-ops work, how to get one started, what they are good for, and learn about some interesting existing models of co-ops that we might want to adapt in this region, please come on out. There will be a brief presentation on Skookum to let you know what we’ve been working on and where we’re heading in 2011 and beyond. We hope to sign up some new members and start talking about what we want to work on together in 2011. We’ll have plenty of time for questions and answers with Carol, who is very knowledgeable about all kinds of cooperatives. We’ll even have door prizes!

Admission is free and is open to all.

Please note that this special meeting will take place in Trinity Hall at the United Church in Powell River (6932 Crofton St., at the corner of Duncan & Michigan) at the normal time of the Kale Force meeting. With generous assistance from First Credit Union and the Powell River Food Security Project, we will be providing food at 6:00 PM. Carol’s presentation will begin at 7:00 PM.

If you are considering forming a cooperative, or if you simply have some detailed questions about cooperatives, we are setting aside time for people to meet with Carol during the day on Wednesday. If you’re interested in setting up an appointment with Carol, please contact us at skookum@skookumfood.ca