Inside the Muskoka North Good Food Co-op grocery store (Photo credit: Kelli Ebbs)
The Muskoka Good Food North Co-op in Huntsville is one of nine organizations getting funding from the Community Foundation Grey Bruce.
“We are Muskoka’s only not-for-profit grocery market and food hub,” explains its General Manager Kelli Ebbs. She adds that 1,600 families and producers are owners of the store. “Everyone, everywhere is always welcome to shop and come in and experience what we’re doing here,” she says.
The store will be getting $36,972 to go towards scaling up and “rejigging” their building, as Ebbs puts it. “Part of it is for actually creating a safer and cohesive space to sell the food,” she explains. “We’ve been open for three years now and we’ve realized that our major growth in interest and usership has caused us to need to rethink how we designed the store.”
With COVID-19 in mind, Ebbs says they want to pack as much as they can into their small space while also keeping safety in mind.
The funding will also be used to bring on an employee to create and develop “social impact projects.” Ebbs says that will involve buying a new laptop. “That person will be designated to really focus on creating really amazing programs and projects which will help make this good food more accessible,” she explains.
“We feel like the base of community well-being and overall health is making sure that what’s going in is healthy, nutrition-dense and clean,” Ebbs says. “We can see very clearly that more and more people are looking for that option for their families.”
She says they try to be careful to not give “food handouts” but teach people how they can do a lot with a little. Ebbs says they want to teach people “how to fish, not just give them the fish.”
Ebbs explains that being a co-op grocery store, they do not have “one centralized warehouse” to order from. “That’s the challenge, but also the wonderful part of what we do,” she says. Ebbs says they work directly with their food suppliers. “It enables us to know the food we sell people. to understand how it’s grown, raised or made and to really trust the integrity that’s behind the foods so we can tell our customers that we’re doing our due diligence,” she says.
One of the other eight organizations getting funding from the Community Foundation Grey Bruce is the Fourth Pig Green & Natural Construction in Baysville.