The Westend Food Co-op Story
The West End Food Co-op is a multi-stakeholder co-operative that includes eaters, producers, workers, and community partners. We aim to provide viable food security initiatives that are specific to the needs of our west end communities. Examples of these kinds of initiatives include the Sorauren Farmers’ Market, our Community Cannery, Food Mapping Project, and our latest endeavour of opening a Food Hub in the Parkdale CHC.
West End Food Co-op connects local farmers to local eaters, and produces self-sustaining initiatives that work for the community. Our co-op is working to increase markets for local, sustainable farmers and artisan producers; a fair, democratic, and meaningful workplace for our workers; an inspiring, community-driven, and welcoming place to shop, learn and connect for eaters; and a resource and valuable partner to work with community groups in Parkdale and across Toronto to improve food security and access to good, healthy, real food in our neighbourhood and beyond.
We aim to provide the means for people to make empowering food choices, and have access to fresh, healthy foods.
Please note that over the past five years WEFC has changed and evolved as a co-op, and particularly with the dream of creating our Food Hub nearing ever closer to reality, the following Vision, Mission Statement, and Values will continue to change and evolve with us every step of the way.
A thriving local community food culture that has a positive impact on the economy, environment and society and promotes a connection to a sustainable global food system.
The West End food Co-op will:
- Promote co-operative values and ownership;
- Act as a catalyst for local food security by coordinating community driven food initiatives; and
- Provide the local community with a full-service grocery store that focuses on selling products that are ecologically sustainable, local and healthy, such as fair trade and organic;
The West End Food Co-op values:
- Ethical transparent governance that is non-hierarchal, locally controlled and culturally diverse;
- An organization that is agile, resourceful, pragmatic and promotes innovation;
- Food Initiatives that provide quality member service while ensuring a strong quality of work in a living wage model;
- Community leaders and hope to set an example of how multi-stakeholder co-operation can be prosperous for all;
- Quality assured groceries that focus on purchasing local, direct from producer, human, organic and fair trade;
- Direct and personal relationships between producers and consumers; and offers fair wages to its workers and pays fair prices to its farmers
- Use any generated surplus to increase access to the co-op to the different demographics in the west end community
- Co-operation, through organizational education and mentoring.
West End Food Co-op acts as a catalyst for local food security by coordinating community driven food initiatives, such as the Sorauren Farmers’ Market, our Community Cannery, and the new Food Hub which will include the Community Kitchen and a small grocery store that features local, organic and fair trade products. The co-op will focus on creating local food security while providing employment with a liveable wage model.
In 2008, WEFC established a Farmers Market in Sorauren Park that features organic farmers and purveyors from the Greenbelt and the GTA. One of the unique features of the Sorauren Farmers Market is its collaboration with FarmStart, which seeks to act as a catalyzing opportunity for farmers who have recently established their businesses. The Market also seeks to raise public knowledge of food security issues, in part through a Local Food Awareness campaign using popular education and multimedia.
In 2010 the Community Cannery started up, hosting workshops to teach participants how to preserve fresh foods. Our popular canning workshops demonstrate hands-on canning techniques that people can easily replicate at home. We began a Community Supported Orchard (CSO) program in 2011 which brought participants together twice a week to preserve the harvest. CSO participants pay for the entire series at the beginning of the season, when farmers need the most financial support, and then are rewarded with the (literal) fruits of their labour in consistent intervals throughout the year.
In 2012, WEFC will open their much anticipated Food Hub in the Parkdale CHC. This momentous opportunity will bring together two non-profit, community-oriented organizations in working together to find solutions to food security issues in the west end. The Food Hub will include a Community Kitchen which will host our Community Cannery, but will also be a place for educational opportunities, training, workshops, and events. It will also be producing fresh take-out foods made with seasonal ingredients from our local producer-members. The Food Hub will also include a small grocery store featuring produce, naturally-raised meats, cheeses, free-range eggs, and other specialty products that are local, organic, and fair-trade. Visit our 'Support Us' page for more details on how you can join us in making the Food Hub happen!