The Town of Collingwood welcomed a new business and its first local food co-operative. The Collingwood Community Food Co-op (CCFC) opened its doors on Friday, December 14th to the excitement of its members and the community. The CCFC supplies fresh local and organic produce, as well as a great selection of organic non-perishables, specialty items, and non-genetically modified foods.
A co-operative or co-op is an organization that is owned by its members who use either the services of the co-op or purchase products sold by the organization. Co-ops can provide virtually any product or service, and can be either non-profit or for-profit enterprises. The key organizational distinction between a co-op and other business structures is that it enables democratic participation through a “one-member, one-vote” process. The Collingwood Community Food Co-op is a non-profit corporation. Each member of the CCFC has a vote in key organizational decisions and has the opportunity to shape the co-op to ensure that the organization is reflecting their needs and that of the community.
How It All Got Started
The idea for a local co-op initiated with Richard and Anke Lex, local developers who created the award winning Tremont in Collingwood. The Lexs, together with the Small Business Enterprise Centre and the Town of Collingwood, organized an initial public meeting to gauge community interest in a local food co-op. The response was incredible – from both potential members and producers. The public meeting included an animator from the Local Organic Food Co-ops Network who explained various options for co-op structures and shared information about other successful co-ops operating throughout Ontario.
As a result of the public meeting, an initial volunteer committee was established with the objective of moving the co-op forward. The committee met, created a vision, and established working groups that focused on feasibility, organization, producers and purchasers. Countless hours were spent by these and other volunteers on determining the right structure for the organization, finding the best location for the co-op, consulting with potential members on what they would like to see in the store, contacting producers to secure products, and setting up the store itself. These are all critical steps required to start and run a viable business.
About the Co-op
The opening of the Collingwood Community Food Co-op at 65 Simcoe Street in December marked the fastest launch by any co-op in Ontario. This is as a result of the high level of community interest as well as the dedication and engagement of the committee and other volunteers. All of the hard work definitely paid off – for the benefit of the community.
The CCFC’s mandate is to support local farmers and producers, and supply fresh organic food to the community. Items on their shelves include coffee from the Creemore Coffee Company, organic meats from Dragonfly Farms, fresh bread from Brilliant Bread & Cheese Company, products from Miller’s Dairy, produce from Fiddle Foot Farm, and many others. The co-op is operated by a volunteer board and a full-time store manager. Members also volunteer their time to help with store operations, fundraising and other co-op initiatives.
The store has accessible fridge and freezer display cases for perishable items, a freezer for local organic meat, an area for fresh produce, and shelves stocked with non-perishable items – many of which you cannot find anywhere else in Collingwood. The store also has plans to open the community kitchen area to facilitate educational workshops and events and rent out the kitchen to those who wish to produce and sell locally made food.
The fee to join the co-op is $60 annually plus a one-time loan of $100 which will be returned to the member if they decide to leave the co-op. Non-volunteering members get a 5% discount on their purchases at the store. Volunteering members receive a discount of 10% which is expected to grow over time as the CCFC grows and becomes more successful.
You can find out more about this amazing community-led organization by stopping by the store at 65 Simcoe Street, visiting the website at www.ccfcoop.ca or checking out their Facebook page.
Congratulations to the Collingwood Community Food Co-op!