Products and Projects - Action and Appreciation!

May 19, 2023

It’s been another amazingly productive week at Steep Hill Co-operative, and although the mid-to latter part of the week has been hazy and cold, there is no shortage of warm camaraderie in the store, nor any doubt about the clarity of the efforts to move Steep Hill along on the path to success and long-term sustainability! We have some exciting updates to share with you, as well as some warm words of appreciation.

The store front of Steep Hill Food Co-op with largely visible vinyl window sign of the Steep Hill logo with text that reads, Your Local Organic Food Market.

How fortunate we are to have our little Co-operative located in the Broadway district! There is such a sense of community, trust and appreciation for one another. It is with gratitude to the lovely folks at Grace-Westminster United Church who have graciously offered meeting space in the Church for Steep Hill’s Annual General Meeting on June 28, 2023. Please save the date! The meeting start time and other details will follow. The Board is looking forward to seeing members and non-members alike and share with you our vision for the future of Steep-Hill. We are excited to have in person conversations with you, and enjoy the fellowship that is always such a welcome presence when good folks get together to do good things.

Improvements and renovations continue inside Steep Hill. Many are small, but each will make such a difference to staff efficiencies, product display, shelf life and storage. The cooler system has been improved, and metal shelving has been installed. Plans are being finalized for the installation of the touch-free dried goods dispensers purchased with “Go Fund Me” proceeds last week. We are setting up a back office area for ordering and dealing with suppliers, and also working to double the product storage area. New, better designed taps have been installed in the bathroom and work stations. We also set up a new, integrated telephone system including a toll-free number.

Next time you come in for your groceries, you will see our current products displayed differently and more accessibly, and you will see some new products throughout the store. Watch for a selection of staple pantry items in stock soon. We are always thinking about how to use the space most efficiently and productively for the needs of our members and customers. If there are any products that you would like to see stocked - items that could make Steep Hill more of a “one-stop shop” for your grocery needs - please feel free to communicate this to Scott, Sammy or any one of the Board members next time you are in the store.

Our Member Survey is now closed, but if you have a completed paper copy that you would like to drop off at the store, we are still interested to have your input. We received 112 completed surveys, which is a real testament to member commitment and appreciation for Steep Hill. The ideas and practical offers to help shared are honest, useful, insightful and sincere, and we appreciate every single one of them. We are learning so much about who we are as a co-operative, and working towards realizing our collective, needs, hopes and dreams for Steep Hill, together.

Steep Hill has had a rough road over the last couple of years. The pandemic changed the definition of “business as usual”, and its impact was broadly and deeply felt. Many businesses, including Steep Hill, suffered. These challenges, frustrations and fears were similarly felt by our local suppliers. But through all the lockdowns and the changing day-to-day regulations and requirements, they continued to deliver the fruits of their labours to our store. We owe them our thanks and our gratitude for their understanding and co-operation, even through some of our toughest times. We plan to spotlight one of these wonderful partners each week. For members and customers to become better acquainted with our local suppliers and their products, and gain some insight into the effort and determination that goes into the making of these exceptional, local products that we are so proud to offer you.

Floating Gardens

Chris on the left & Rachel on the right at Floating Gardens inside green house.

Brother and sister team of Chris and Rachel Buhler, their spouses and parents own and operate Floating Gardens which utilizes hydroponics to grow beautiful, tasty and nutrient-dense tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, lettuces and peppers, as well as basil, sage and pea shoots. This local, farm-to-table produce is grown with a minimal carbon footprint and gives you garden-fresh taste all year-round. In all aspects of their business, Floating Gardens is mindful of the impact that they have on the environment at both a local and global level. Their goal with their three-tier grading system is to ensure that no produce is wasted. Floating Gardens has been a supporter of Steep Hill from very early in their establishment, and we are thrilled with the quality of their produce, their flexibility and their generosity. What a gift to have a fresh tomato, arugula and cucumber salad at your next Christmas supper, made from ingredients grown only a few kilometers away, in the middle of a cold and dark Saskatchewan winter!

Tomato plants in a green house. A bunch of ripe tomatoes.

The Peak is in View – Let’s Get There!

We had hoped to tell you that our “Go Fund Me” efforts, coupled with individual donations outside the campaign had brought us to our goal of $50,000. But it is with regret that we cannot. The curve has unfortunately flattened this week, and we are still almost $10,000 short of our goal. We know that many of you have donated, and we are so grateful for your support. If you haven’t had an opportunity to donate, and are in a financial position to do so, please consider doing it today! Encourage and challenge your friends and neighbours to donate as well. Everyone has to eat, and even a few dollars from each of you will get us “over the steep hill” to our goal! Every dollar donated will be carefully dedicated to improving efficiencies, processes and your shopping experience for years to come.

Gift Memberships

Some of you have asked about buying gift memberships for friends and family. This is an excellent way to introduce non-members to the Steep Hill market. Bring in a friend or loved one (or unloved one), and purchase a gift membership by June 3, and you will both be eligible for the 6% working membership discount on purchases made that day! Remember, Steep Hill delivers grocery orders if you are unable to get to the store in person.

There just isn’t enough paper to express how meaningful it is to be working alongside members and volunteers to bring Steep Hill from mere survival to a thriving hub of activity on Broadway. Everyone’s contribution - whether donor, worker, shopper or volunteer - has been offered without complaint, ego, or expectation. Just because rebuilding our little co-op is a good thing, and the right thing, and the positive thing to do. Your dedication to Steep Hill is apparent, appreciated and welcome. So thank you!

Ann Smith,

On behalf of the Steep Hill Interim Board