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This article was published 16/9/2014 (1011 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A worker co-operative’s vision of a sustainable food system in Winnipeg could get a big boost.
Urban Eatin’ Gardeners Worker Co-op, which operates out of the Social Enterprise Centre (765 Main St.) in North Point Douglas, is a finalist in the National Co-op Challenge, an online contest presented by The Co-operators.
The National Co-op Challenge features 90-second videos from each of the 16 finalists, with the competing co-ops split evenly into four regions: Ontario, Quebec, West and Atlantic. Canadians can vote once a day for their favourite co-op until Oct. 1 at 4 p.m. The contestants are vying for eight prizes of $25,000 (two from each region). There are also eight consolation prizes of $500. The winners will be announced on www.cooperators.ca by the week of Oct. 15.
Started in 2009, Urban Eatin’ is a group of five gardeners committed to building and maintaining sustainable, healthy and holistic vegetable, fruit and herb gardens for its private and public clients. Urban Eatin’ offers garden and landscaping services, custom garden accessories such as compost bins and planter boxes, as well as leading gardening workshops in schools. In northwest Winnipeg, Urban Eatin’ has provided its services to David Livingstone School and Seven Oaks School Division’s Wayfinders program.
Urban Eatin’ worker Mark Klassen said if the co-op wins the $25,000 prize, it will use part of the money to buy two electric bikes and trailers to take to job sites. Urban Eatin’ already has one electric bike, purchased through a grant from the Manitoba Cooperative Association.
"Our proposal (to the National Co-op Challenge) was to get two more electric bikes and two more trailers so we can have a fleet of people," Klassen said. "We’ll pick different neighbourhoods in the city, which we’ll determine based on need and response, and then do a circuit on these bikes, visiting people who have mobility issues or accessibility issues to their garden, and helping them tend their garden at no cost (or possibly a reduced cost) to the client."
Klassen said the co-op plans to partner with neighbourhood organizations to get youth working on the bike circuits, helping to tend the gardens.
Also, Urban Eatin’ worker Tommy Allen said the prize money would allow the co-op to build and install approximately 60 rain barrels at no cost to the client.
"A lot of people use tap water (to water their garden) and that’s a strain on the environment, just more tax dollars going into piping in Shoal Lake water and treating it and then putting in on dirt," Allen said. .
"It (a rain barrel) also puts water into perspective," Klassen added. "If all you have to do is blindly turn on your tap, there’s no accountability, there’s no association. Rain barrels are a step people can take to become more connected to the gardening process."
Urban Eatin’ is currently working on an outdoor classroom at Grosvenor School and just wrapped up work at the soon to be opened NorWest Co-op Community Food Centre (103-61 Tyndall Ave.). Allen said winning the National Co-op Challenge would enable Urban Eatin’ to stay true to its mission.
"I feel like as a growing business we’ve had to take on jobs that can pay for the business to run but part of our mission is to help people who need help, so this (the prize money) would help us reach people who can’t necessarily afford our services but who are just as deserving of our help," Allen said.
For more information on the National Co-op Challenge, go to www.cooperators.ca and for more information on Urban Eatin’, go to www.urbaneatin.com