Hello to Early Spring and "World Water Day"

March 1, 2024

Christmas seems like a distant memory as we plunge into what feels like a very early spring. The weather certainly is the topic of many conversations, as is normal for people in Saskatchewan. Is it because we feel such a kinship to the land, with crops and livestock that depend upon the whims of the weather? While the mild weather and lack of snow has made getting around much easier, there are already uneasy thoughts and discussions about what this weather will mean for the new growing season.

According to the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre, “Zombie fires”, continue to burn under the ground surface long into the winter months and are at risk of reigniting into full-blown wildfires as a particularly dry spring emerges. The Centre estimates 94 of these Zombie fires are smouldering in British Columbia, 54 in Alberta and several in the Northwest Territories. This is concerning news indeed!

March 22nd is “World Water Day” – a day to learn more about water-related issues and to take action. This year’s theme is “Leveraging Water for Peace” and encourages recognition of the crucial role that water plays in promoting peace all across our shared global home.

One way we can reduce water consumption and contribute to water conservation is by choosing organic food. According to NASA, 21 of the world’s largest 37 aquifers have passed their sustainability tipping points, which means that water is being taken out much faster than it is replaced. In the U.S. alone, a staggering 50 billion gallons of water per day are being used for agricultural purposes. A new study published in Nature Plants, concluded that organic yields are consistently greater than conventional farming yields during periods of global drought. Given that organic soil is built up and maintained with organic material, it is better able to hold onto water, ensuring plants have more access to water resulting in higher yields. Soil absorption of water reduces run-off and recharges underground aquifers. In addition, by not applying pesticides and synthetic fertilizers organic farming keeps our water cleaner.

Looking for a friendly and welcoming store with a great organic and local selection of produce? Look no further than the Steep Hill Co-operative, your “little store with the big heart” in the heart of the Broadway shopping district!

As always, the Board wishes to express our thanks to our amazing staff family – Amielle, Sammy, Zain, Sarah, Scott, and Christina, and to our working members. Their enthusiasm and dedication is evident every day. Without this level of continual support and trust, accomplishing the shared goals of ensuring that Steep Hill remains well-managed and financially stable, a market for farmers supplying products local to our bioregion, a local, ethically conscious food store that is responsive to members’ needs, an alternative to big retailers, and an asset to the Broadway and area district, would be a much larger, lonelier, and longer challenge. Our abiding gratitude to you all.

Cooking with Lentils… Again!

Steep Hill’s second Cooking with Lentils class sold out again! Unfortunately, due to illness not all the registrants could attend, but another 13 people came together on February 11th at Grace-Westminster United Church for the second session on cooking with lentils. The decision for a second class was easy when the wait list for the first session was just as long as the class list. Similar to the event on January 13th, there was a buzz of activity, laughter, and conversation. The cooks commented repeatedly on how much fun it was to cook together, how much they learned about cooking with lentils, and how much they appreciated coming together socially. We look forward to having more cooperative events with Grace-Westminster coming up in the spring. Stay tuned!

If you want to try the recipes yourself, take a look at them below.

A perspective view over looking a table with bowls full of ingredients, pots, recipes, utensils and a large wooden cutting board.

Recipes in progress

A woman and child standing in front of a table as the woman instructs the child how to chop the apples.

Chopping apples for soup

A woman standing in front of a stove with a big smile as she stirs the Mulligatawny soup.

Tending the Mulligatawny soup

A woman with both her hands in a sink washing dishes as she smiles towards the camera.

Washing dishes and keeping the work area tidy

A group of people sitting at a long table talking and eating the dishes that they were just taught to make.

Success! Eating the delicious dishes and enjoying each other's company

Shop Talk from the Store Operations Committee

Local Loafing
We’re excited to be partnering with Nestor’s Bakery! Watch for new bread and baked goods making their way to the store shelves. Introducing whole wheat and white sliced bread – and some of their other delicious items? Possibly even a Steep Hill Bread! Nestor’s is a good fit for Steep Hill. They are a long-standing, local, community-minded business that helps train local bakers, and provides a living wage to their employees. They hire newcomers and help feed the community in many ways including cooking and serving Ukrainian food. Stay tuned – exciting prospects are on the horizon with this partnership.
Climbing Higher
A very important task has been a complete inventory of products in the store and update to the Point of Sale system (POS). This was accomplished as of February 23rd when this large task was finished in a whirlwind work bee with several Board members. This allows us to track our inventory through the POS, and better serve our members and customers through clever and responsive ordering. It’s one more step “up the hill” in our vision of Steep Hill’s a vibrant and responsive provider of fresh, affordable and wonderful food for the community!
Strolling for Steep Hill
With the addition of “bread and butter” staples for the Corner Store part of Steep Hill, such as bread from Nestor’s Bakery and other carefully selected products, and the inventory now complete, we are ready and raring to get the word out to Broadway and surrounding communities that Steep Hill is eliminating the food desert that resulted from the closure of Extra Foods. Do you enjoy walking in this beautiful neighbourhood? Would you like to carry a few flyers as you stroll, and distribute them to the mailboxes of your neighbours? We need and would love your help with this…and it counts towards a working member discount!

Volunteer Opportunities

It was wonderful to see the in-store volunteer time slots fill up so quickly in February!

As a reminder, in-store volunteers are an important part of keeping Steep Hill well-stocked and running smoothly. They typically package, label, and shelve products (herbs and spices, nuts, candy, dried fruit, etc.), and generally assist with tasks that the staff may not have time to do regularly.

You can sign up for a shift on the schedule posted on the store bulletin board, call 306-664-4455 or email hello@steephillfood.ca to request a shift.

View March 2024 Volunteer Schedule

Another valuable way to volunteer is to pick up recycling and compost. As part of its commitment to sustainability, Steep Hill recycles and reuses as much unavoidable packaging as possible, as well as composts unsalvageable produce. However, the store’s capacity to store and dispose of recycling and compost is limited. We would love to have a few volunteers who are willing and able to pick up recycling and/or compost from the store and take it to the appropriate drop-off location (or, in the case of compost, you can use it yourself!). To learn more or to volunteer, please contact the store by phone 306-664-4455 or email hello@steephillfood.ca. If you already volunteer or have expressed an interest in doing so, thank you! Someone will be in touch with you via email shortly.

Just 2 hours per month of in-store or outside volunteer work gives working member status for the next month, providing a 6% discount off the shelf price of store items. Even more importantly, your work helps Steep Hill thrive!

Seedy Saturday

We’re excited to share that Steep Hill will be participating in Seedy Saturday this March! Seedy Saturdays are an exciting phenomenon that happen across Canada. These community events are hosted by different local organizations to encourage and enable local seed saving and seed exchanges, as well as highlight local vendors with sustainably produced goods. They usually occur on a Saturday; hence the name Seedy Saturdays.

Our friends at CHEP Good Food will be hosting Saskatoon’s Seedy Saturday Seed Exchange & Eco Fair on March 9th. This year’s event will also include fun activities like:

Be sure to visit Steep Hill at the table we’ll have set up! If you’re interested in volunteering with us at the event, contact Cathy at president@steephillfood.ca to find out more about how to get involved.

You can find all the details for the event below:

To learn more please visit the Seedy Saturday webpage and the upcoming Seedy Saturday Seed Exchange & Eco Fair Facebook event page.

For any questions please contact CHEP at communitygardens@chep.org or 1-306-986-5831.

Beautiful, Brown, Free-run Eggs

Quick! Who do you expect a visit from on the very last day of March? Here’s the answer - Peter Cottontail, of course! March brings Easter, the Easter bunny, and Easter eggs. In the Medieval period, eating eggs was forbidden during Lent, so breaking the “egg fast” on Easter Sunday was a real treat, especially for poorer people who couldn’t afford to buy meat! Eggs were given to the Church as Good Friday offerings. Villagers gave eggs as gifts to their landlords, and in 1290, King Edward I purchased 450 eggs which were decorated with colours and gold leaf and given out to his household as Easter gifts. The Ukrainian Easter tradition of beautifully decorating eggs known as pysanky pre-dates Christianity. One story of that tradition’s origin tells that the ritual is meant to represent the return of the sunshine after a long winter, and eggs are used because the yellow yolk is thought to resemble the sun. The theme of eggs symbolizing new life and rebirth is common in many cultures – today we continue the egg-gifting tradition by purchasing chocolate eggs to hide and share!

An over the top view of a collection of Ukrainian easter eggs decorated in vibrant colours and various designs.
Photo Credit: Pysanka artist, Sofika Zeilyk

Eggs are an economical, easy, and delicious way to help meet our protein needs. Two large eggs contain 13 grams of protein, important for building and maintaining muscle, fighting infections, and growing strong hair and nails. Eggs are one of the few foods considered to be a “complete” high-quality protein source because they contain all 9 essential amino acids which the body cannot produce on its own. High in iron and Vitamins A, D, E and B12, they also contain folate which helps maintain and produce new cells and prevent a type of anemia. Eggs also contain Omega-3 fats, unsaturated fats important for a healthy brain and nervous system that may lower the risk of heart disease. (www.eggs.ca)

Steep Hill Co-op stocks healthy and natural free-run eggs from Prairie Sunrise Eggs, located in Warman. Prairie Sunrise is a CFIA inspected egg grading and packaging facility owned and operated by Sadie and Wes Wahl. Sadie and Wes purchase from other like-minded farmers as well as raise their own brown, all natural eggs. The hens that lay these beautiful eggs are fed an all-vegetable diet and have access to large, fenced outdoor spaces that allow them to enjoy sunlight, fresh air, and the opportunity to stretch their legs. This stress-free, natural environment encourages these happy hens to be social and indulge in their natural pecking habit while protecting them from predators and inclement weather.

If you are planning a hearty and welcoming brunch for family and friends this Easter Sunday, or just want to make any breakfast omelette, banana loaf or carrot cake special and nutritious, pick up some fresh, delicious free-run eggs from Steep Hill Co-operative! Remember to bring back your empty egg cartons. We return them to our supplier!

Co-operative Principles at the Heart of Steep Hill

A close up view of the 7 cooperative principles written in white chalk on a black chalk board.
Image by Weavers Way Coop

Co-operatives are unique organizations that are owned and controlled by their members. In 1844, the Rochdale Pioneers developed seven fundamental co-op principles. These principles continue to guide the structure, governance, and purpose of co-operatives world-wide, whether they are a housing co-op, a credit union, an agricultural co-op, or a small but mighty co-operative food store on Broadway in Saskatoon.

  1. Voluntary and Open Membership: co-ops are inclusive and open to all individuals who can benefit from their services. Regardless of gender, social status, race, politics, religion, or other differences, anyone willing to accept membership responsibilities can join a co-op.

  2. Democratic Member Control: co-ops operate democratically. Each member has an equal say in decision-making, policy-setting, and governance. Elected representatives are accountable to the membership, and the “one member, one vote” principle ensures fairness.

  3. Member Economic Participation: co-op members actively participate in the organization’s economic activities. They contribute financially, share risks, and benefit from the co-op’s success. Economic participation fosters a sense of ownership and commitment.

  4. Autonomy and Independence: co-ops maintain their independence while collaborating with others. They make decisions based on their members’ needs and aspirations, free from external control. Autonomy ensures alignment with the co-op’s mission.

  5. Education, Training, and Information: co-ops prioritize member education. They provide training, share information, and promote understanding of co-op principles and practices. Informed members contribute to effective co-op functioning.

  6. Co-operation Among Co-operatives: co-ops support one another. They collaborate, share resources, and strengthen the co-operative movement. By working together, co-ops amplify their impact and create a supportive network.

  7. Concern for Community: co-ops contribute to the well-being of their communities. They prioritize social responsibility, sustainable development, and community development. A thriving community benefits both members and society at large.

We look forward to sharing more information on each of these principles and how Steep Hill accomplishes each of them in later newsletters. Stay tuned!

Free Tickets to The New Earth Expo

Steep Hill has been gifted 100 free tickets to The New Earth Expo, a wholistic lifestyle event coming to Saskatoon’s Prairieland Park Hall C on March 15-17. If you’re interested in going, ask your cashier about tickets the next time you’re in the store.

The New Earth Expo showcases displays, presentations and vendors featuring a wide range of natural and New Age health products, therapies, and tools for personal growth. For more information visit,The New Earth Expo website.

We Want to Hear From You!

For information about products and the store, email us at hello@steephillfood.ca or call 306-664-4455.

To contact the Board of Directors with ideas, feedback, concerns or questions, email board@steephillfood.ca or fill out a “How did we do today” card when you are in the store.

Thanks to Jasmin Carlton, Brianne Davis, Adam Douglas, Gillian Edlund, Cathy Holtslander, Maryann Scott, Karen Skarsgard, and Ann Smith for contributing to the Newsletter!