There’s no question that local food is taking off in countless directions, and what’s super exciting is the diversity of people and ideas that are blazing new ground for the BUSINESS of local food. Businesses that are working to change the way that food is produced, distributed, and consumed in Nova Scotia are popping up everywhere and as they do, the network grows in both size and strength. In the process, our social capitol is growing as community leaders and entrepreneurs are stepping in to design interesting and innovative solutions where no one else has.
So, I thought I”d take some time to have a look at some of the many businesses that have been stepping up to support and sustain Nova Scotia’s food and agriculture sector. Please keep in mind that this is just a TINY sample of the good work that is being done across to province and they, alongside many others, are blazing new ground.
FarmWorks Investment Co-op promotes and provides strategic and responsible community investment in food production and distribution. A key element of their work is the Community Economic Development Investment Fund which provides financing for farms, farm-based secondary processing, and value-added food products. It enables all Nova Scotians to invest in and help build a sustainable agricultural and food system. FarmWorks was recently selected in Tides Canada’s “Tide Top 10 for 2013” for an award that acknowledged their work in creating meaningful partnerships with investors, loan recipients, businesses and other lenders- partnerships that contribute to the growth of food-related enterprises across Nova Scotia.
HarvestHand is a community platform dedicated to strengthening regional food systems through the development of new media solutions. The business model is a three-way partnership between Patricia Bishop (Tap Root Farms), Mike Caplan and Duncan Ebata, who have teamed up to design innovative solutions that apply technology and new media to value oriented approaches in the production, distribution and consumption of local food. Among other things, this dynamic team has developed a software that provides data-base management and customer service systems for Community Supported Agriculture. In a nutshell, it allows CSA operators to increase profitability through ease of management and high-quality customer service.
Food Savvy offers a food delivery service (called Savvy Meals) which is all about getting the highest quality foods on people’s dinner plates to achieve health and well-being. Founder and operator, Krista Butler, is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner that works with local producers to deliver organic vegetables and grass-fed meats to people’s doorstep. She also provides them with step-by-step recipes (and spice mixes) that they can then use to turn these fresh local ingredients into fast, nourishing meals. As an added bonus she also supplements these nutritional goodies with fermented foods that are sourced from Pickled Pink Traditional Food and Drink, a local food business in Wolfville. Krista is part of an emerging group of young entrepreneurs that are finding new ways to encourage and support people in eating nutritiously dense and locally produced food.
“Jess Ross the Baker” is a local producer, baker, and founder of Gold Island Bakery products. As part of her business she offers a bicycle powered delivery service that provides home baked bread and other “high-integrity food stuffs” (maritime artisan cheese, preserves, sweets, and soup ) to customers in the Halifax Region and beyond. The subscription is a CSA style Membership, meaning that each member commits and pre-pays for a bread delivery each week for a two-month stretch. Home baked bread delivered to your door-step! For the past two years Jess has also been setting up a “pop-up” farm stand in the North End of Halifax, and continues to develop her local food catering and direct marketing outlets throughout HRM. Jessica is just one of many small-scale producers that are finding new and innovative ways to access urban markets and strengthen community connections while doing so.
Conscious Catering is a catering company run by a dynamic duo (Roberto and Anke Kungle) who work with high quality whole foods that come from our local farmers or the network of global farmers who care about what they grow and how they grow it. Their mission is “to feed people in a way that is both nourishing and inspiring” and their services include event catering, multiple day catering, wellness retreats, and cooking classes & workshops. These days, there’s lots of people and organizations who are looking for companies that can provide delicious food that also represents some of the very best of what Nova Scotia agriculture has to offer. Conscious Catering (and many others) are making it easy for us!
TruLeaf is a food based technology company that was started in Halifax in 2011. Their technology, the “TruLeaf Smart Plant System” is a multi- layer plant farm that grows fresh produce through an indoor growing system. Based out of the Perennia Center in Bible Hill, they’re heavily involved in research and development that aims to grow a consistent supply of fresh greens throughout the year, regardless of the environment. The concept of indoor food growing at this scale has is being developed and demonstrated in other parts of the world, often classified as Vertical Farming. Examples of those that are in the works include Green Spirit Farms in New Buffalo, Michigan, and Growing Power’s Vertical Farm in Milwaukee. What’s most interesting about TruLeaf is that they recently announced recently that they will be proceeding forward with the construction of a large-scale, indoor, multi-level farm in the Halifax area. Big News!
Hope Blooms (the North End Community Garden, Greenhouse and Youth Herb Dressing Business) was founded in 2008 by Jessie Jollymore, Community Dietician at the North End Community Health Centre, located in the inner city of the North End of Halifax. Hope Blooms is built upon four main pillars: social entrepreneurship, ecological agriculture, health, and relationship cohesion. Through this community-led project and business, youth learn how to grow food, produce and successfully market value-added products, grow a small social enterprise, and give back to their community. They’ve become well known for their fresh herb salad dressings which can be found in locations across Halifax. In 2013 the Hope Blooms Youth appeared on Dragon’s Den where they received BIG support for their work, and they returned for the season finale in 2014. With strong support from mentors and the community at large, Hope Blooms is demonstrating how a little (or a lot) of hard work and community can succeed in changing the way we do business, and transformation of an entire neighborhood.
So I’ll leave it there and please remember that this is just a small collection of the businesses that are rolling out across the province to promote good food and health. My only hope is that we’ll continue to see more and more of these “local food trailblazers” bring their amazing goods and service to the public. I have no doubt we will.
Written by Aimee Carson, Community Food Coordinator