Zero Waste and Pay What You Can Grocery Store Field Trip – Saturday July 13, 2019

Posted by St. James Town Community Co-op on Monday, July 15, 2019

We visited 2 alternative type of grocery stores in July:

Volunteers from the co-op wanted to see what options there are once we open our own food store and what kind of models we can use ourselves. We love the concept of a grocery store where you have to bring your own containers and you get to top up what you need, thereby both reducing waste from purchase and even food waste at home! Likewise, the pay what you can grocery store offers an interesting pricing model which can be applied in neighbourhoods with a wide range of income level so that everyone can access healthy food.

It definitely helped us think about accessibility and sustainable in the food process — both important components in a full cycle food hub, and sparked conversations among those of us who went. We’re excited to see new alternative models of grocery store pop up in Toronto as people experiment with different possibilities of reducing our impact on the planet while keeping our communities healthy!

Here’s a short reflection from a volunteer who went on the trip:

My visit to Unboxed Market with the co-op was my first ever visit to a zero-waste grocery store. It was great to experience the store’s organization which allows everyone to weigh and mark their personal reusable containers before filling them with groceries of their choice. The variety of foods available and the dispensing mechanisms for each item were also worth noting for me. I’m excited to cook the bit of basmati rice I got there! 

Joining the co-op on this field trip also introduced me to the idea of PWYC grocery stores. Visiting Feed It Forward was quite special and I’m curious to learn more about them, how they relate to the greater food ecosystem, and their vision of the future.

See more photos here: https://www.facebook.com/sjtcoop/posts/2352441664848773

Cooking Workshop Recap – July 25, 2019

We held a cooking workshop on July 25th, 2019 as part of our community thursdays this summer at The New Common. Those who attend made delicious soups and got to take some home for themselves to enjoy as well as recipes and knowledge of how to remake them at home.

Our wonderful volunteer, Petra, facilitated the workshop and had a few words to say about the whole event:

The cooking class held at The Common as part of the Thursday night drop-ins was a big success with over 10 in attendance!!
The inspiration behind the refreshing summer soups was to discuss and demonstrate how we can work with what is in season and what is in our fridges! None of these recipes need to be followed exactly, use them as a guidelines. Even though cold soups are less well know, they are such a treat once discovered on unusually hot days! I made the cucumber and gazpacho ahead and stuck them in the freezer for a quick chill and demonstrated the vichyssoise in class. This was eaten hot.
I offered lots of cooking tips, short cuts, and ways of adding items to make it closer to one owns home style cooking including adding Indian Spices for the cucumber soup.
More classes to come, please let us know with suggestions of what you would like in the fall.
If you’d like to lead a cooking workshop/volunteer for the co-op in running a Community Event, let us know at sjtcommunitycoop@gmail.com. See here for more pictures: https://www.facebook.com/pg/sjtcoop/photos/?tab=album&album_id=2423445327748406

Community Celebration June 22, 2019

We had a community celebration on Saturday June 22, 2019 at the Wellesley Community Centre. We wanted to share the results of the feasibility study with the community and thank everyone who participated in the various consultation processes and events throughout the past year. We were happy to present our accomplishments to the community and get people excited for the next steps. There was time for people to socialize and have fun, listen to the presentation, eat food, and go through the reports and ways to get involved information packages.

There was an amazing meal provided by Suruthi’s and Parliament Shawarma which filled everyone’s tummy and everyone was able to bring home leftovers as well. Our musician, Rosita Stone, played emotionally and beautifully, bring people to tears in the audience. Then we had a fun time dancing and chatting with one another, bonding over food and festive spirits!

Thank you to everyone who came out as well as our volunteer. Also, welcome to new members and volunteers!

We’ll have lots of events coming up including our Community Thursdays Series from 6-8pm at the The New Common Every Thursday this summer, come check us out! Calendar is here: http://stjamestowncoop.org/events/

You can find photos of the event here.

 

AGM May 18, 2019

The St James Town Community Co-operative held its Annual General Meeting on May 18, 2019. This AGM was called for a second time as we did not have enough members at our AGM in March for quorum and our constitution stipulates a second AGM.

We took the time to go through what a co-op is, the principles of a co-op, the year in review, strategic planning for the summer, and vote on motions and board elections.

It was a productive AGM with many wonderful ideas that came out of it and we are excited to move into the new year with a new board and engaged members.

One particular motion that passed at this AGM is the change from a lifetime membership to an annual membership. We are giving all current co-operative members until June 30th to contact us to arrange membership renewal and pay the associated $5 annual fee.

We look forward to this summer and engaging with our member-owners in making this food hub a reality in St James Town!

You can find minutes of the AGM here

We’re Hiring! Oasis Food Hub Project Assistant – Community Engagement

Commitment: 35 hours per week, for 8 weeks
Salary: $14/hr
Start Date: May 27th, 2019

How to apply: send your resume to sjtcommunitycoop@gmail.com We will send you an application form which you will need to fill out and send back to us by May 10. We will then contact those we are interested in for an interview.

Job Description: Seeking an outgoing community activator for the OASIS Food Hub – a community-run initiative to increase healthy and affordable and climate-resilient food in the St. James Town neighbourhood. This is an innovative food security project in the early stages of development that will be the first of its kind in the world.

This summer, we will be focused on increasing community awareness and commitment to the project. You will be a part of a two-person team – supported by member-owners of the St. James Town Co-op – focused on:
• Networking and Presenting to Community Groups such as Resident Associations
• Outreach at Street Festivals
• Run a 3-hr space once a week: informational sessions, co-op orientations, educational and community gatherings

Requirements:
• Young Person 15-30 years old (federal grant requirements)
• Canadian Citizen or Permanent Resident
• Preference Given to St. James Town Residents

Our ideal candidate has the following skills:
• Inter-Personal Skills
• Public Speaking
• Coordination of people and events
• Working in a diverse community

Our ideal candidate also has Knowledge/Interest/Experience in one or more of the following:
• Food Security and Climate Change
• Urban Agriculture
• Co-operatives
• Community Development
• Facilitation
• Nature-Education
• Events Coordination
• Lobbying
• Alternative Economies such as Time Banking and Gift Economy

OASIS Design Gathering #3

We held our third and final design gathering on Friday February 8th. Where previous design gatherings asked for input from residents and allied organizations, our third gathering invited stakeholders and community organizations to engage with us in conversation about potential channels of collaboration as well as give us feedback on our work thus far. Representatives from various community organizations attended as well as our city councillor, Kristyn Wong-Tam, and representative from our MPP and MP’s offices.

The design gathering started off with presentations from Josephine on the history of the projects and our Project Co-Coordinators, Yi Fan and Darryl, on how the feasibility study is progressing. Our technical consultants, Waterfarmers, also presented an overview of their findings for the technical study and we also have time for some questions and answers. After a short break, Councillor Wong-Tam gave a very inspirational speech on how the strengths and weaknesses of the community as well as pledged her full support of the project which we were really excited to hear.

The final part of the design gathering culminated in a group conversation on other channels of funding, support, and collaboration that participants suggested. Overall, we were glad that so many people came out on a cold and icy Friday to both hear about the project but also to support the co-op in realizing the dream of a food secure community.

In the upcoming months, we’ll be gathering the information from all three design gatherings to present at our AGM in March before writing everything up for our feasibility study. We’re really excited to continue this work and can’t wait to share with you the results of our feasibility study!

Check out other photos of the event here

OASIS Design Gathering #2 – November 17, 2018

We had our second OASIS design gathering on Saturday, November 17th at the Cabbagetown Youth Centre. We started the day with lunch, and a fun ice-breaking word association activity to get our minds thinking about important issues and our bodies warmed up to work. We built on the discussions from the first design meeting by splitting into small groups to share our thoughts on four specific areas: bulk buying food buying, food growing, food processing and storage, and waste and repurposing. All of the groups completed a “Flourishing Cities Design Canvas”, where we focused on both the short and long-term necessities for food security and resiliency in the community.

There were great dialogues happening that allowed for connections to be made between residents, community partners, and farming representatives that helped us generate a more specific and robust plan for OASIS. At the end of the day, everyone reported back so that all of the attendants could share what they have accomplished, and learn from the expertise of the other focus groups. Each group came up with three “Action Steps” that can be implemented right away to make inroads into achieving our goals for OASIS. The enthusiasm in the room was electric, and everyone was able to come together to collectively resolve important community issues. Thank you to everyone who was able to attend, share, listen, and help make a difference!

 

You can find more pictures of the event here.

Stayed tune for our third design gathering happening in early January!

Written by: Dani T.

Ward 13 Candidates Forum Oct 17, 2018

St James Town Community Co-op and CREW hosted a candidates forum on Community Resilience and Emergency Planning for ward 13 city council candidates on Oct 17th, 2018 at the Church of St. Peter and St. Simon in St. James Town. We invited all the candidates who were running for councillor to the forum and we had five questions prepared in advance for the candidates to answer.

At the forum, the candidates who showed up were: Jon Callegher, Megann Willson, Rob Wolvin, Walied Khogali Ali, Gladys Larbie, Tim Gordanier, George Smitherman, Richard Forget, and Jordan Stone while Lucy Triosi sent her apologies. We kicked off the evening with snacks and an intro statement from each candidate before we moved onto the questions. There were moments of tension and candidates also expressed frustration that the incumbent candidates were not present at the forum. At the same time, we had insightful conversations and thoughts from candidates on what community resilience looks like to them and how to best prepare for emergency situations in St. James Town.

We had some time at the end of the evening for questions from the audience and the questions that came up included:

  1. How would you ensure that you are accessible to all residents regardless of status?
  2. How will you raise revenue for the projects you want to create?
  3. People are dying from overdoses in the community, what will you do to address this issue?
  4. Do you have a plan of action to get to know your community?

We’re thankful that the candidates had a chance to join us on this evening to share their ideas and how they want to engage these important topics. We’re also glad that people in the community want to engage in these discussion and demand that our candidates work for them and represent them well.

You can find photos of the event here.

You can find a live tweet thread of the debate here covered by Justin Chatwin

Design Gathering #1 – Oct 13

 

We had our first OASIS design gathering last Saturday, Oct 13 at the Wellesley Community Centre! Over 30 residents and participants came out to share their ideas and vision what they want OASIS to look like in stage 1 and specifically how they envision a community kitchen and a food storage unit. We had great conversations and a delicious lunch to keep us going; there was also a kids group where youth got a chance to ask pertinent questions for the project and present a solid vision of what they wanted to see. The kids’ presentation definitely had the adults in the room thinking and chuckling.

The energy in the room was amazing and every table was buzzing with conversation and chatter. This is what we want to encourage in the community: people gathering to talk about important issues and solutions and meeting other folks in the community.We can’t wait for the smaller laser groups, set up through this design gathering, to work on more detailed aspects of the projects and bring more focus and expertise to the table. Our next design gathering is happening on Nov. 10 and allies are invited to join residents at this stage. Keep in touch to hear about other events and progress on OASIS coming up!

Check out more photos from the gathering from our Facebook album here.

Don Valley Walk August 4th 2018

On Saturday August 3rd the St. James Town Community Co-op led a plant identification walk through the lower Don Valley. We were fortunate to be joined by knowledgeable and enthusiastic community members who shared their own perspectives and expertise to our walk. Among the plants we identified were Jewelweed, which can be used to treat rashes and irritations; Japanese Knotweed, a hardy invasive plant that acts as a cleanser for the liver, kidneys, and digestive tracts; and Wild Grape Vine, a native plant that can strangle and kill trees if left to grow without human stewardship. We also had informative discussion on the nuances of removing invasive species, particularly whether or not invasive species should be taken out of an ecosystem if they fill their ecological niche more effectively than their native counterpart. We ended the walk with a visit to the Evergreen Brickworks, and participants were excited to learn that that there would be more walks to come!

Check out images here: https://www.facebook.com/sjtcoop/posts/1888596687899942