The Kettle Valley Food Co-op has moved from its previous location at the Sunbean Cafe to the old Contact Photo Arts building on 353 Market Ave.
Tim Carson, a director on the board, explained that moving into a more central location allows people to see the co-op.
“It’s a lot more convenient because it’s downtown with nice parking. It’s ideal,” said Carson.
Volunteer co-ordinator Sheila Dobie agreed.
“It’s been great. Bill Wilby, the owner of the building, has been great with accommodating us.”
Developed in part by the Grand Forks and Boundary Regional Agricultural Society, the Food Co-op was conceived on Sept. 1, 2009.
Dobie, who is also a member of the board, explained that after much discussion and planning they went for it.
“We just decided to go ahead with the food co-op and it’s created a life of its own,” said Dobie.
The online ordering system that the co-op uses is based on a similar system that co-ops in Ottawa Valley and Oklahoma use, explained Dobie.
The Kettle Valley Food Co-op is a multi-stakeholder co-op, which incorporates producers and consumers in the group.
“(The ordering system) accommodated producers by being participants listing products, and it accommodated consumers by buying products,” she stated. “So it’s become a platform that could really work for us.”
“It’s allowed the Kettle Valley Food Co-op to operate without having to purchase inventory and with fairly little infrastructure in terms of space and office.”
Carson said, “The food co-op is about bringing together consumers and producers locally. It’s to get people in touch with one another and promote local growth, local agriculture.”
“We’re working on getting more (producers). That’s one of our weaknesses right now, is that we don’t have enough producers or members,”
In time, Dobie hopes the co-op will expand to a larger space.
“A warehouse type environment would be ideal for us because we would be able to serve both consumers and producers in a fairly efficient way, with just a simple warehouse,” said Dobie. “Somewhere in the main part of town and only once a week is our standard for now.”
Carson explained that orders have to be placed a week in advance.
“The pick ups are on Thursdays (between 2 and 6 p.m.), so you would order between Thursday and Monday,” he said. “It’s all online at this point, so it’s convenient to do at any time; if you’re at home, or if you’re at work. Just order online, then show up here.”
Future plans for the food co-op involve becoming a retail store for the community.
“I think within five years we’d like to become a retail store and a player in regional distribution of our local foods,” Dobie hoped. “In that way we would not only be serving our producer members who will want that distribution opportunity, but also serving a consumer base.”
The co-op provides fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, soap, Jerseyland organic cheese and yogurt, meat, and bakery and soy products from Nelson.
For more information, visit kettlevalleyfoodcoop.org