Kootenay Co-op hires new coordinator to support farmers and economic development

By Contributor
November 2nd, 2015

The Kootenay Co-op is excited to welcome Nadine Harris BenRabha to the role of True Local Coordinator, a new position intended to support Kootenay farmers and boost the local economy.

Ms. BenRabha comes to the Co-op from Kootenay Meadows Farm in Creston, a local supplier of glass-bottled organic milk and cheese. She played a key role in the start-up of her family’s on-farm processing ventures, and has worn many hats throughout the business, including a focus on marketing. Nadine brings this firsthand experience to the role of True Local Coordinator along with a track record of passionate advocacy around regional food security.

“I am very excited to join the Kootenay Co-op,” says BenRabha. “Kootenay Meadows Farm has had a special relationship with the Co-op from the beginning. The Co-op gave us invaluable advice and support long before our processing facility had even broken ground, and played a huge role in giving us the confidence to take the leap. It will be immensely rewarding to help others leverage this special support that the Co-op offers, and see how it can help their businesses succeed.”

The Co-op created the position of True Local Coordinator to help it triple its sales of local products in its new Nelson Commons location. Strengthening local food systems has long been part of the Co-op’s mandate. The Co-op’s guiding principles state that local growers or processors should receive preferential treatment as suppliers, and the Co-op works hard to nurture new and existing local vendors.

In June 2013 the Co-op took this commitment to the next level with the creation of its True Local Program. The program was launched in response to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s changes to its definition of “local” which allows retailers to market a product as local even if it is sourced from as far as 3000km away. The Co-op preferred to create the True Local Program that would assure its member-owners and other customers that their food was being sourced close to home and that their food dollars were being invested locally. The boundaries for the program are drawn along bioregional lines: West to Grand Forks, East to the Creston Valley, Northwest to Nakusp and the Arrow Lakes, Northeast from Kaslo to Trout Lake and Johnson’s Landing, and South to the US Border.

“Purchasing from True Local suppliers is an investment in the future of our food security and the economy of the surrounding area,” says Co-op Board president Jon Steinman. “Co-op members have shown enormous support for the program and over the last year the Co-op made payments of more than $2.5 million to local suppliers, including $1.78 million to more than 100 local farmers and food producers.”

BenRabha looks forward to meeting local suppliers and learning how the Co-op can partner with them. “This is a brand new position so we have the exciting opportunity to work together to define how the True Local Program and the Co-op as a whole can best work to support the local economy,” she says.

The Kootenay Co-op will host a Supplier Event for prospective and current suppliers on November 18th, in Nelson. All interested local producers and processors are invited to attend. Please contact nadine@kootenay.coop for more information.

For more information, please contact:

Nadine BenRabha

Office: 250-354-4077 (available Tues/Wed/Thurs 7:30am-2pm)

Mobile: 250-254-7923



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