Nelson’s Kootenay Co-op seeking Creston Valley food producers

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  • Oct. 26, 2015 10:00 a.m.

Nadine Harris BenRabha at the Kootenay Co-op.

Nadine Harris BenRabha flew the coop from Creston last year and has now found a home at a co-op, Nelson’s Kootenay Co-op.

BenRabha played a key role in the Harris family farm’s business ventures, which include Kootenay Meadows organic cheese and milk production. Her focus on marketing gives her firsthand experience in her new role as the co-op’s True Local co-ordinator.

“I am very excited to join the Kootenay Co-op,” said BenRabha. “Kootenay Meadows Farm has had a special relationship with the co-op from the beginning. The co-op gave us invaluable advice and support long before our processing facility had even broken ground, and played a huge role in giving us the confidence to take the leap. It will be immensely rewarding to help others leverage this special support that the co-op offers, and see how it can help their businesses succeed.”

The co-op created the position of True Local co-ordinator to help it triple its sales of local products in its new Nelson Commons location. Strengthening local food systems has long been part of the co-op’s mandate. The co-op’s guiding principles state that local growers or processors should receive preferential treatment as suppliers, and the co-op works hard to nurture new and existing local vendors.

In June 2013 the co-op took this commitment to the next level with the creation of its True Local program, launched in response to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s changes to its definition of “local” which allows retailers to market a product as local even if it is sourced from as far as 3,000 kilometres away. The Co-op preferred to create the True Local program, assuring its member-owners and other customers that their food was being sourced close to home and that their food dollars were being invested locally.

The boundaries for the program extend west to Grand Forks, east to the Creston Valley, northwest to Nakusp and the Arrow Lakes, northeast from Kaslo to Trout Lake and Johnsons Landing, and south to the U.S. border.

“Purchasing from True Local suppliers is an investment in the future of our food security and the economy of the surrounding area,” said co-op board president Jon Steinman. “Co-op members have shown enormous support for the program and over the last year the co-op made payments of more than $2.5 million to local suppliers, including $1.78 million to more than 100 local farmers and food producers.”

BenRabha is looking forward to meeting local suppliers and learning how the co-op can partner with them.

“This is a brand new position so we have the exciting opportunity to work together to define how the True Local program and the co-op as a whole can best work to support the local economy,” she said.

The Kootenay Co-op is hosting a supplier event for prospective and current suppliers on Nov. 18 in Nelson. All interested local producers and processors are invited to attend. Contact nadine@kootenay.coop for more information.

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