Our Canmore Community Partner: Farm Box

Sonia - January 20, 2016

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

Farm Box is a community program that provides freshly harvested, sustainably sourced food from local, organic producers to customers in the mountains and foothills. We are honoured that Farm Box helps distribute CSF member shares in and around Canmore, Cochrane, and Banff!

Skipper Otto’s CSF didn’t always deliver sustainable seafood to Canmore this way. From 2011-2014, 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 Canmore, Calgary and 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 or parking lot and members 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 began to look for values-aligned stores in all our member locations. I felt certain that if we could just find the right people who shared our vision and our beliefs, we could hit upon a more flexible, more affordable distribution system that would make everyone happy. I asked members in Calgary and Canmore for their suggestions and soon found myself with an introduction to Chrystel Vultier, Co-founder of Farm Box. We had found a partner in Calgary, but needed help getting member orders from Calgary to Canmore. After a long phone chat, Chrystel and I realized we had a shared vision and Chrystel agreed to give it a try!

In April of 2015, we sent our first shipment of member orders out to the Chinook Station location of Community Natural Foods in Calgary. Chrystel’s staff picked up our Canmore member orders and transported them to Canmore for pick-up or home delivery. So many of our members wrote to tell us how delighted they were with the convenience of picking up anytime during store hours or getting their share delivered with their Farm Box order. Our members felt immediately welcomed into a broader food community. We were thrilled!

And 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!

I flew out to Calgary and Canmore in October to see a member pick-up in person and was so happy to see how simply and efficiently it all worked. Co-founder, Avni showed us our around the Farm Box “Barn” where they keep our member orders in their freezers.

20151124_132245_HDR copyWe ran into members in town and went for a beautiful walk along the river. We talked about our life stories and how we came to be involved in the food movement, about our dreams and hopes and our shared vision for a more ethical food system. 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 the Farm Box, after seeing it in person that fall, 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 Canmore, drop by and say hello to our friends at Farm Box! Check our event calendar to find out when we’ll be delivering to Canmore next!

Sonia - January 20, 2016

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Our Canmore Community Partner: Farm Box

Sonia - January 20, 2016

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