The St James Town Community Co-op aims to enable community projects and social enterprises that benefit the residents of St James Town and improve the quality of life in the community. The primary focus is food security and resilience to climate change.

It is a social enterprise co-op established to bring together organizations and individuals who can assist and support the development of projects and enterprises initiated by and for residents. The co-op uses a TimeBank system to document the value members’ contributions and promote exchange of services among members using time credits earned by volunteering for the co-op and related projects, as well as by providing services to other members of the co-op and the time bank. The Co-op, in collaboration with Low Income Families Together, is incubating the OASIS FoodHub: a model for an integrated, climate-resilient food hub for clean, affordable, healthy, and sustainable food.

The co-op engages and develops local skills, experience and talent to collaborate in creating jobs and life opportunities for its members.

Goals:

    1. To develop a community co-op model suitable for a multicultural, multilingual low-income urban neighbourhood;
    2. To provide development support, community education and training to enable St. James Town residents to successfully run social enterprises and community based projects;
    3. To create opportunities for green jobs and improve community health by developing resilient food security projects.

Vision:

A community owned, democratically controlled non-profit enterprise to facilitate sustainable development projects in St. James Town.

History of the Co-op

In 2011, a group of St. James Town residents approached locally-founded human rights organization Low Income Families Together (LIFT) with a burning desire:

they wanted to bring healthy affordable food into the neighbourhood in a way that built community and social inclusion.

And so, they started to run pop-up cafes – providing healthy Pay What You Can dinners on a monthly basis. It was a beautiful experience of community and food…but it was also a lot of work! Lugging equipment and food from kitchen to venue, constantly searching for space, and relying on grants; it was an exhausting and unsustainable way of doing community-food. They conducted a feasibility to determine: what organizational structure could adequately “hold”and sustain the work of the cafe?

The answer? A community co-operative: the St. James Town Community Co-operative founded. with the mission of enabling community projects and social enterprises that improve the quality of life in St. James Town, with a focus on food security and resilience to climate change. The co-op is a democratic non-profit that maintains at least 50% resident membership to ensure control remains with those most directly impacted and served, St. James Town residents. 

Co-op members got to talking and realized that a truly sustainable food co-op would not only serve food, but would also grow it, procure it, and manage the waste. We realized we could grow food in our high-rise community, and so began the OASIS Food Hub – core project of the St. James Town Community Co-op.

All of this was developed under the care and guidance of incubator LIFT – formed in 1991 to empower low-income citizen participation. As an organizational member of the co-op, it brings a history of successful community initiatives, and the expertise of founder Josephine Grey, who has helped establish many thriving organizations including:

      • FoodShare
      • Project Esperance – housing for survivors of domestic violence
      • Green Thumbs Growing Kids Winchester Garden
      • The Wellesley Community Center
      • Income Security Advocacy Center
      • St. James Town Community Corner
      • St. James Town Youth Council
      • U4Change
      • Conscious Minds Co-operative

Learn about how our model aims to help our community here

Find out how to volunteer with us here

Find out how to become a Co-op member here

Find job opportunities here

Contact us here