© John DeCoste - kingscountynews.ca
Valley’s Best Co-Op was one of the winners in the Co-Operators National Co-Op Challenge and received a $25,000 cheque recently. From left are Sarah Pineo, Co-Operators; Loretta Kalkman, chair of Valley’s Best; Sheila Harris, treasurer of Valley’s Best; Andrew White, Linda Lowthers and Tracy Toney, Co-Operators
By John DeCoste
The Valley’s Best Co-Op is still only in its formative stages, but it’s already picking up kudos.
In early September, Valley’s Best was selected as one of four Atlantic Canada finalists in the Co-Operators National Co-op Challenge.
The social media contest allowed small and emerging Canadian co-ops to compete for a share of $200,000 in prize money. The public was given a say in choosing the winners by voting for their favourites.
The two co-operatives in each region with the most votes during the month-long voting period were declared the winners.
When the eight regional winners were announced Oct. 28, Valley’s Best Co-Op was one of the two winners from Nova Scotia, and as a result, received $25,000 to support the growth and development of their business.
Andrew White, financial advisor with the Co-Operators office in New Minas, made the presentation Nov. 14 to Valley’s Best treasurer Sheila Harris and chairwoman Loretta Kalkman.
“It’s a national challenge, but the local office here was 100 per cent behind Valley’s Best Co-op,” White said. “It’s always nice to see a local company win. We’re just as excited to present this cheque as they are to receive it, and we’re excited to see another co-op in our area.”
Kalkman said the Annapolis Valley is the right location for the new co-op due to the abundance of locally-grown and processed food.
“This prize money will go a long way in spreading the word and vision of this emerging co-op,” Kalkman said.
Kalkman explained the vision of Valley’s Best Co-Op is a locally-owned grocery store, created to serve the ever-increasing consumer demands for accountability, food transparency and knowing more about where their food comes from.
“The co-operative’s mandate is to buy local first; it will not go out of province for food items that are grown or produced in Nova Scotia,” she said.
“Consumers will have access to healthy, affordable, local and fairly traded products as a result of partnerships developed with producers – and all under one roof.”
Along with the $25,000 from Co-Operators, a grant has been received from the Nova Scotia Department of Economic and Rural Development and funds have been provided by a core group of interested individuals and businesses. A consulting firm is currently developing a feasibility study and business plan.
“Response to the concept has been overwhelming,” Kalkman said, “which tells us the idea of access to safe, healthy local food is not ahead of its time. Its time is now.”
The Valley's Best Co-operative has won $25,000 as one of two Atlantic region winners of the National Co-op Challenge from The Co-operators.
The Wolfville-based co-op is a locally-owned food enterprise created to meet consumer demand for accountability and food transparency, providing a one-stop-shop for consumers who want to buy local, affordable and fairly traded food products. It believes in "real food from real people" and encourage a healthy and sustainable community. The prize money will be used for a marketing campaign to promote the co-operative, its vision and the business model.
The social media contest showcased 16 emerging co-operatives, with four finalists selected in each of four regions across Canada. Each finalist produced a short video about their co-op, how it benefits their community and the projects that would be supported with the prize money. The public was given the power to choose the winners in each region by voting for their favourites either on Facebook or a contest microsite over a month.
Acadian Crafts and Cuisine, Cheticamp, was the other Atlantic winner.