Our Regina Community Partner: Body Fuel Organics

Sonia - January 19, 2016

We’re delighted to introduce you to our Community Partner in Regina. . .

Body Fuel Organics has been providing the city of Regina (and beyond) delicious, healthy organic produce and groceries since 2005. We are honoured that Body Fuel helps distribute CSF member shares in Regina!

Skipper Otto’s CSF didn’t always deliver sustainable seafood to Regina this way. We first came up with the idea to open up our CSF to members in Regina when our friends Sarah and Filipe, who live in Regina, asked what they would have to do to get our fish to their city. I jokingly said “I dunno, sign up 20 people?!” Sarah introduced me to Lana at Body Fuel Organics who agreed to help us spread the word to her customers and, in no time, we had enough members to give it a try. And so, from 2010-2014, my husband and fisherman, Shaun, would fish all summer, rent a freezer truck and drive across the Rockies to deliver CSF shares to our members in Regina and, eventually, to other western cities, hoping to make it there and back before the snow hit too hard. He would set up shop in a member’s driveway and people would line up to get their fish. Members had to decide what they wanted on the spot, Shaun would weigh it all out and write it down, and members would head home with their seafood.

We really loved meeting everyone and there was something charming about the whole experience, but it also came with its challenges: it was hard on our family personally, and it came with a lot of additional costs, uncertainty, and headaches. We needed a better system.

In early 2015, I had the idea that, if we could just find the right people who shared our vision and our beliefs to work as distribution partners in our member cities, we could hit upon a more flexible, more affordable distribution system that would make everyone happy. Since Regina was where we had first started membership outside Vancouver, I thought maybe I should start there. I had lost touch with Lana at Body Fuel over the years but, when I reached out to her again, I was met with Lana’s characteristic enthusiasm, support, and adventurous spirit! Lana had just moved into a larger space with ample walk-in freezer space and the ability to handle our member shipments. We brainstormed how it would work and decided to take the leap and try it out!

In April of 2015, we sent our first shipment of member orders out to Body Fuel, and Shaun and I flew out to see how it would all work. Lana and her husband picked us up at the airport and took us out for a wonderful dinner. We laughed about the joys and challenges of running values-based food businesses. We told stories about our kids. And we dreamed about our shared vision for a world with a more just, healthy, community-based food system. Lana and Ryan were definitely part of our Community in Regina!

We spent the next day at Body Fuel Organics and saw how Lana’s staff took on the logistics of receiving member orders, organizing them into their freezer, and handing them out to members. We invited members to a potluck and slide show in the back of the store. So many of our members came or wrote to us afterward and told us how delighted they were with the customer service, the convenience of picking up anytime during store hours, and with the opportunity to have discovered this wonderful grocery store many of them didn’t know about. Our members felt immediately welcomed into a broader food community. We were thrilled!

I was even more thrilled when September came around and we avoided the annual scramble to rent a truck and coordinate the epic “prairie trip” as we’d come to call it. Shaun was even able to continue fishing when the salmon unexpectedly kept returning well into fall. Our kids had their dad around between fishing openings and our members didn’t have to line up for hours in the cold to pick up their fish. What a win-win this was proving to be!

And I realized something important. When we moved to our Community Partner model for distribution, my biggest concern was that we would lose a small piece of the community feel we had built. But after a season of working with all the staff at Body Fuel Organics, after seeing it in person, and after hearing great feedback from our members, I realized that the “Community” in our Community Supported Fishery was bigger and stronger than ever. In expanding our distribution to include partners with a shared vision for a more just, local food system, we have done more than we could by trying to do everything ourselves. It really is true that “the more we get together, the happier we’ll be!”

If you’re in Regina, drop by and say hello to our friends at Body Fuel Organics! Check our event calendar to find out when we’ll be delivering to Regina next!

Sonia - January 19, 2016

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Our Regina Community Partner: Body Fuel Organics

Sonia - January 19, 2016

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