The Ontario Co-operative Association

The Ontario Co-operative Association

October 08, 2009 08:00 ET

Local Food Pioneer in Ottawa Valley Named New Co-Op of Distinction

GUELPH, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Oct. 8, 2009) - Matching about 250 consumers with 33 of their local food producers has earned the New Co-operative of Distinction title for the Ottawa Valley Food Co-operative. Ontario co-operators will honour it at their Annual Co-op Conference and Gala at the Burlington, Ont. Royal Botanical Gardens on Oct. 14.

The co-operative was incorporated in early 2007. Consumer and producer members in the Ottawa Valley area connect to buy and sell local food and related artisan products such as soap through an Internet-based marketplace (www.ottawavalleyfood.org) and a regular ordering system. As well, the co-operative promotes seasonal eating and sustainable production practices through education, presentations, networking and special events. It complements and enhances other local food marketing initiatives such as farmers' markets and farm-gate sales. Lifetime memberships are $50 for consumers and $100 for producers.

The co-operative has done a great deal to raise awareness in the community about the benefits of local food and locally-based diets to the environment, says Lynn Jones, past president of The Ottawa River Institute which fosters sustainable communities in the Ottawa River watershed. It is inspiring to see the membership growing steadily and so many dedicated volunteers participating and making food delivery (to drop-off depots for customers) happen so smoothly and in such a celebratory atmosphere."

Money spent through the co-op (which has increased eightfold in two years) stays in the community, supporting the local economy and creating new employment and business opportunities, says Russ Christianson, a co-operative developer and consultant. He adds that it's the first example of the Oklahoma Food Co-op model - a combination of a pre-order group and a farmers market -- being used in Ontario.

The co-operative also closes the gap between customers and producers, he notes: "Farmers and consumers of local food are friends and neighbours."

Ontario co-operators will also recognize the accomplishments of eight other co-operators and co-operative organizations during Co-op Week (Oct. 11-17). The late Bernie Daly will be acknowledged for his dedication to Ontario's agricultural co-operatives. La Siembra Co-operative, based in Ottawa, is recognized in the category of Co-op Social Responsibility, introduced last year. Toronto professor Jack Quarter receives an award for 25 years of promoting education and research of co-operatives and like-minded organizations. Retired Huron County dairy farmer Stuart Steckle becomes 2009 Distinguished Co-operator, and Diane Kocet, CEO of Toronto Electrical Utilities Credit Union, is 2009 Co-operative Innovator. CAIC (Canadian Alternative Investment Co-operative) receives special recognition as a financial supporter of many co-op projects over its 25-year history and Carlene Frimer of United Communities Credit Union in Southwestern Ontario is receiving a Co-operative Youth Mentor Award for her advocacy of young co-operators. Tanya Gracie of the Canadian Co-operative Association receives recognition as a youth co-operator.

The 11th annual Co-op Spirit Recognition Awards Gala is part of a daylong conference that draws up to 250 co-operative and credit union directors, employees, and supporters from across the province. Its theme is Co-ops Work: Exceptional Solutions for Exceptional Times."

The Ontario Co-operative Association (On Co-op), based in Guelph, Ont., develops, unites and promotes co-operatives throughout the province of Ontario. Its mission is to lead, cultivate and connect co-operatives. Visit: www.ontario.coop for more information on the Association, co-op conference and gala.

Contact Information

  • Ontario Co-operative Association
    Mark Ventry
    Membership and Communications Manager
    1-888-745-5521/519.763.8271 x30
    mventry@ontario.coop