April Showers Bring May Flowers!

March 28, 2024

Welcome to the Vernal Equinox. The Vernal Equinox, or first day of spring, fell on Tuesday, March 19 making it the earliest first day of spring in 124 years! It marks the turning point when daylight begins to win out over darkness and when the rays of the sun are shining directly down on the equator, producing the effect of equal day and night. April’s warmth kindles hope and optimism in us all. Farmers are already finalizing their spring seeding plans; gardeners are anxiously counting down the days until it is dry enough to break soil and plant their seeds. Baby calves and lambs are being born. It is truly a season of renewal.

In the spirit of renewal, optimism and hope, Earth Day is celebrated on April 22. The theme this year is “Planet Versus Plastics”. The Steep Hill Board, Staff and Members are passionately dedicated to the good of our planet and encourage you to observe and participate in Earth Day however possible. Here are some great ideas to get you started!

  1. Choose a Different Snack!

    It’s easy to grab a processed snack, but it isn’t great for the planet. The manufacturing process is energy consuming and the packaging usually creates plastic waste. Did you know that Steep Hill stocks fresh, local and in-season fruits and vegetables whenever available?

  2. Compost!

    Thanks to the City of Saskatoon’s program, composting your kitchen waste has never been easier. If you don’t have a green bin, composting is as easy as a purchasing a small, electric composter, using a manual composter outside, keeping a compost heap in the corner of your garden, or bringing your green waste to a friend who composts. Did you know that at Steep Hill, we compost all green waste and have been doing so for years?

  3. Reuse!

    Swap out single use plastic carrying bags for ones of canvas or reusable recycled plastic. Swap out plastic straws for metal or bamboo. Bring a go cup to your coffee vendor instead of drinking from a mixed paper/plastic cup. Did you know that Steep Hill has been encouraging the use of reusable totes for a long, long time? We have a “take one or leave one” reusable bag area near the till. If you forget your reusable bag, we have one (or two) for you. If you have an abundance, please bring them in to the store to pass along. We also stock a charming line of cloth bags hand made and designed by Edna Poncelet. These are one of a kind art items, and available by donation. Proceeds go to support “Cloth for Kids” here in our city!

Voluntary and Open Membership – A Co-Op Principle

One of the bedrock principles of co-operatives is Voluntary & Open Membership which establishes inclusivity and accessibility of co-operatives, ensuring that co-ops remain true to their democratic essence. Co-operatives are voluntary organizations, open to all persons able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without bias or discrimination. More specifically, voluntary and open membership is built on:

  1. Inclusivity

    Co-ops welcome individuals regardless of their background. Whether you’re a farmer seeking fair markets, a consumer desiring ethical products, or a worker aiming for better conditions, co-ops embrace you. The doors are open, inviting collaboration and shared purpose.

  2. Responsibilities of Membership

    Joining a co-op isn’t merely about reaping benefits; it involves active participation. Members contribute to decision-making, governance, and shaping the co-op’s destiny. By accepting these responsibilities, they become co-creators of a collective vision.

  3. Democracy in Action

    Co-ops exemplify democratic control. Members actively participate in setting policies and making decisions. Elected representatives are accountable to the membership. In primary co-ops, members have equal voting rights, ensuring fairness.

  4. Beyond Profit

    Co-ops prioritize people over profit. They exist to serve members’ needs, not shareholders’. This principle aligns with the belief that economic well-being should be inclusive, equitable, and sustainable.

The principle of Voluntary & Open Membership is an invitation - a call to join hands, build community, and create a better world through cooperation.

Steep Hill Food Co-op exemplifies the co-operative principle of Voluntary and Open membership by welcoming all individuals, regardless of background or position, to join and participate in the co-operative. Steep Hill operates on the belief that everyone should have the opportunity to access healthy, sustainable food options, and contribute to a community-driven, democratic organization. By fostering inclusivity and open participation, Steep Hill Food-Co-op empowers its members to collectively shape the co-op’s direction and ensure that it serves the diverse needs of the community.

Steep Hill Membership – Your Chance to Participate

As you have just read, open and voluntary membership is a core co-op principle. By becoming a Steep Hill member, you have the opportunity to support and be a part of a vital presence in the community, as well as have a voice in guiding the co-op in its future directions. As the current world seems consumed by division and partisanship, co-operation and community become even more important for maintaining balance and interpersonal connections. Steep Hill is a wonderful example of what can be accomplished by people of different views, backgrounds, and talents uniting over common values and goals.

Steep Hill members receive a 3% discount off the shelf price for purchases, and a 6% discount for the entire month in which the membership is either purchased or renewed. Members are also able to place bulk or special orders – some people buy a membership just for this! As a member, you may vote at AGMs, as well as further your involvement with the co-op by running for the Board of Directors. Memberships are economically priced at $25 per year (only $15 for students) – if you shop at the store regularly, the investment pays for itself quickly. Working members volunteer for at least two hours per month and receive a 6% discount off the store shelf price in the month after their volunteer hours.

Ask about membership during your next visit to the store! The sign-up process is simple, and the benefits and impact of membership go far beyond individual cost savings.

Benefits of Buying Local - Buying Food in Your Community

You often hear that it’s important to shop local and there are many great reasons to keep your dollars invested in your community. This is especially true when it comes to purchasing food, with benefits for your health, the environment, your local economy, and your community! Here are just a few reasons why making food purchases that keep your dollars in your community is a great idea.

  1. Local food supports the local economy.

    The money that is spent with local farmers and growers all stays close to home. You are supporting your local economy by buying your food from local farmers, farmers market, or local shops (like Steep Hill). The money you spend is reinvested with local businesses and services in your community by supporting jobs and your money goes back into producing more local food. 

  2. Local food benefits the environment.

    Purchasing locally grown foods helps maintain farmland and green and/or open space in your community. In addition to producing delicious food, these farms and green spaces help preserve biodiversity and protect local ecosystems.

  3. Local food reduces waste.

    Buying your food locally means it travels a much shorter distance to get from the farm to your fork. This creates a double benefit of reducing waste by requiring less fuel for transportation and less packaging. You can even take this a step further by bringing your own reusable bags and containers when shopping.

  4. Local food is better for you and tastes better.

    From the time food is harvested, it starts to lose some of its nutritional value. Locally grown food spends less time in transport, so it has a higher nutrient level when you purchase it. Often, the food you buy locally is fresher, and you can taste the difference. Buying locally also supports eating seasonally, which means getting foods at their best and when we most need their nutrients.

  5. Local food strengthens community.

    Buying your food locally creates connections in your community, whether it’s in your local food store or directly with nearby farmers. The spaces created to support buying local food are designed to be accessible and inclusive and build community. This can look like talking with a producer about what’s going on in your local food system or getting to know your neighbours at a Steep Hill cooking workshop.

More on the benefits of buying food locally:

Recipe Corner

We often used to eat at the old Commensal vegetarian restaurant and buy their pâté in the supermarket whenever we visited Montréal. This is a tasty—but considerably cheaper—approximation that’s great on a sandwich or crackers, or complementing a cheese board. It also freezes well. All the ingredients are available at Steep Hill and most are produced right here in Saskatchewan!

On a black stone counter top a blue plate is dished up with two pieces of veggie pâté ready to eat next to yellowish white pan with the remaining veggie pâté along with a silver knife leaning on the edge inside the pan.

View Veggie Pâté Recipe

Steep Hill at Seedy Saturday

Assisting at the Steep Hill Co-op display table on Seedy Saturday, March 9th, was a delightful experience. Seedy Saturday is a unique day featuring an eco fair, seed exchange and sale, learning opportunities, market garden and fun activities. The annual event, hosted by CHEP Good Food Inc., brings together gardeners, savers of heritage and special variety seeds, organizations working for food sustainability and food security, vendors of related products, and, of course, community members of all ages.

There are fun activities for all, such as a scavenger hunt for children, workshops, raffles, draws, and unique products to be purchased. This year the event was very well attended. Our display table provided information about our store and its products to many who were not familiar with Steep Hill. Our gummies, dried fruit and chocolate were popular purchases, especially for the children. Watch for the Seedy Saturday next year – it’s an event worth attending.

A large table draped with a black table cloth and a white background sign hangs over the front of the table with the Steep Hill Food Co-op logo. A volunteer sits behind the table full with goodies.
A volunteer working Steep Hill's table at Seedy Saturday
A Steep Hill volunteer leans against a counter while posing with light brown envelops full of seeds.
One of our awesome in-store volunteers packaging seeds for Seedy Saturday's seed exchange

Volunteer Opportunities

As always, in-store volunteers are enthusiastically welcomed! 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 April 2024 Volunteer Schedule

As mentioned last month, the store recycles and composts as much as it can, but has limited space for storage and disposal. We are still looking for 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. We would also love to hear from anyone who is able and willing to do some handy work and minor repairs around the store! To learn more or to volunteer, please contact the store by phone 306-664-4455 or email hello@steephillfood.ca.

Thank you to all our working members for everything that you do!

Depth of Field Film Fest

A backdrop of two groups of farmers divided by a deep yellow vertical line. At the bottom is a deep yellow banner that is titled, Depth of Field Film Fest In Saskatoon along with event start time and location.

On April 11, the National Farmers Union presents an evening of inspiring short films featuring 5 unique Saskatchewan farms and their sustainable practices. The screening will be followed by a Q & A with star farmers Stewart Wells, Ian McCreary, Marie Smillie, and Jim and Rachelle Ternier. 9 Mile Legacy brewery will also be on site serving a custom cask inspired by the flavours of a prairie shelter belt.

The Depth of Field film series showcases Canadian farmers and farm workers, and their sustainable farming practices on and off the land. Rotational grazing, seed saving, building healthy soils, and working for social justice–different farmers highlight their own priorities and, together, these unscripted films tell the story of farming practices that would create the food system we all want.

By offering local and organic foods, we at Steep Hill do our part to help ensure there is a market for these and other sustainable and organic farmers who are doing good things for the land and our communities.

Get your ticket today at National Farmers Union website and join us.

Admission is $10 online in advance or $15 at the door – and includes a free drink (9 Mile beer or fountain drink) or popcorn.

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, Marcia Clark, Adam Douglas, Cathy Holtslander, JoAnn Jaffe, Maryann Scott, and Ann Smith for contributing to the Newsletter!