The Kootenay Bakery Cafe Co-op is a worker-owned co-operative, so instead of focusing on just one person or one family, this interview talks a lot about how co-ops can build up a community, making it more sustainable and more self-sufficient!
What do you make for our community?
We make wholesome salads, as well as breads, buns, wraps and bagels, all made from scratch with certified organic ingredients. We source our raw ingredients as close to home as possible (when seasonally available), always supporting certified organic growers and farmers.
Where are you located?
Downtown Nelson at 377 Baker St., nestled between Hipperson’s Hardware and Village Ski Hut.
How would you describe your operation?
KBCC is a worker-owned cooperative.
What is KBCC’s mission?
The purposes of the business are to provide sustainable employment for co-op members and staff, to contribute to our local economy through purchasing locally and providing nutritious food, to function as an active, supportive member of our community, and to be as earth friendly as possible, supporting fair trade and sustainable agriculture.
Commendable! I can get behind a mission like that!
Would you like to tell our readers when your relationship with the Kootenay Co-op began?
We have had a long relationship with the Kootenay Country Store Co-operative, sharing space with you guys from 1990 to 2000 as The Kootenay Baker, then moving to our current location and transforming into a worker’s cooperative as The Kootenay Bakery Café Cooperative.
I guess we might claim to have inspired the co-op in you!
What motivated you to start?
A love for good bread, good food, sustainable gardening and agriculture and a positive, democratic cooperative work place where the workers are the owners!
What are some of your greatest joys?
♥️ Watching our family of customers grow-up!
♥️ Supporting local growers, using locally grown fruits and veggies, serving our amazing pumpkin pie & knowing the farmer that grows the thousands of pounds of squash that we use each year.
♥️ Creating new products that our customers love.
♥️ Exploring our workplace and our common vision together as a diverse group of people joined as a Worker’s Cooperative.
What are some of your greatest challenges?
❎ Balancing the needs of a busy, productive, everything-made-from-scratch, bakery-café with enough rest and holidays for all.
❎ We also struggle with balancing the rising cost of our raw ingredients with product retail prices and offering employees fair and adequate wages.
What is your vision for your operation?
To do what we do better and better!
Why is local food and/or local purchasing important to you?
Local food and local purchasing are important to us because health and well being for all starts from where we live. We believe that by supporting organic and sustainable growing methods close to home, we are contributing to the wellbeing of our community, the lives of people here, the land and the local economy. That is how we contribute to building a just and sustainable world.
If you could deliver a message directly to Co-op members/customers, what would it be?
That we are so fortunate to live in a community with such nourishing interconnected relationships: local people supporting local businesses that hire local folks to work in businesses that support local growers, who all support the community by spending their earnings in their community. It is a circle of love. ♥️