Eat Local Grey Bruce (ELGB) is a not-for-profit, member cooperative that brings local food to local people. It is an online farmer’s market selling and delivering directly to the residents of Grey, Bruce and part of Simcoe County.
Nearly 70 local farmers and producers offer a variety of merchandise including fresh organic produce, dairy products, baked goods, honey, humanely-raised meat and poultry free of growth hormones and much more in an online format. Customers were able to choose from over 500 products from the comfort of their homes and Eat Local Grey Bruce is a business that made, and hopes to continue making, a positive impact on the health and well-being of its community.
Throughout the pandemic, ELGB took care of the health and safety of staff while getting food out to community members in the safety of their own homes. In fact, it was voted one of the top 100 recovery projects in Canada by Future of Good … (https://humansofimpact.ca/eat-local-grey-bruce-a-community-of-local-producers-and-consumers-making-a-difference/).
Sadly, the board has announced to the community that the organization has become insolvent and is preparing to file for bankruptcy, unless that is, they can raise sufficient funds and volunteers to re-launch.
“From the outset, what ELGB has attempted was radical and visionary – to create a local food system that was by and for the community, that tried to be fair, ecological and delicious. During the pandemic, we saw explosive growth – 100% in a single week – which was extremely difficult for a small, dedicated group of board members and staff to manage.” says Kristine Hammel who has been involved with ELGB over the last six years.
Last April, the group saw an unexpected warehouse relocation which increased operating costs, and which also meant that the board and staff could not prepare for the post-pandemic reality. Sales have plummeted since spring, not just at Eat Local but across Ontario for local farmers.
In order to keep their doors open, ELGB is asking for three things:
- new volunteers to bring energy to the organization
- a pledge from community members to make regular purchases to help keep revenue coming in
- an injection of cash to help pay off pressing debts.
They are currently running a fundraising campaign that they hope will raise $115,000. The funds will go towards paying off the most urgent debts so that the organization can comfortably open its doors again and work with a new board to ensure that ELGB can pay all the producers that have been ‘carrying’ the group the monies that are owed to them and move into a business model that is once again profitable. This is a fixed funding campaign, donations will only be received until the fundraising goal is reached.
The ELGB board of directors already has three new members who are bringing new ideas to the organization. “While the circumstances aren’t ideal, I’m excited to be joining the board for Eat Local Grey Bruce because I strongly believe in their model, their ideals, and their vision” says Kel Smith the newest consumer member to the board. “Connecting local ecological farmers directly to consumers helps build and grow community resilience which I firmly believe is needed now more than ever. Eat Local offers a solution that is grounded in community. I hope others in our community across Grey and Bruce counties understand this value and help keep the organization alive.”
While the fundraiser is taking place, the board, staff, and members are working diligently to imagine a more lean, efficient Eat Local Grey Bruce. There’s no shortage of ideas about how the organization could grow and if the group believes that they will meet their all-or-nothing fundraising campaign, they plan to host a community visioning event to really engage with the members and wider public.
You can learn more about Eat Local Grey Bruce, the fundraising campaign, and support opportunities at https://igg.me/at/elgb or click the images below.