It started over five years ago with a question: Why can’t we buy broccoli in our own town?
From that evolved a project to bring wholesome, local food to the Village of Cumberland and one very long learning curve.
Tina Willard-Stepan and her husband Jim opened Seeds Natural Food Market in Cumberland in March, 2008. Although both had operated programs and businesses, the natural food industry was new to them.
“Many of our skills transferred to this business, but food is a whole other game. The learning has been huge,” says Tina. “I have worked extensively in community development and we wanted to bring this element into the business. We wanted to build community through food, which influences everything. Food is about wellness. It’s social, it’s political, it’s economic – it touches everything.”
Their products and services reflect these wider community values. They are committed to sharing educational pieces about sustainability and food with customers. Seeds’ purchasing policy is intentionally focused on supporting other local businesses, farms and food manufacturers, re-circulating money back into their community, and providing a venue for customers to reduce their carbon footprint.
Many of their health and beauty care products also come from local businesses. They are intentional about the fact that their shop promotes a viable and sustainable local food system, contributing to a healthier environment, improved personal health and a more resilient local economy.
Other projects include donating one per cent to preserving the forest surrounding their community, or presenting workshops for children about how far their food travels earned them a nomination for a BC–wide Community Impact Award in 2012.
“Being a green grocer is a great role to play in a smaller town,” Jim said. “We are a community gathering place. And where people come together, you can make a difference to their individual health and the health of the whole community. Celebrating five years of getting to do this is a big deal to us and to the rest of Cumberland.”
Join Seeds to celebrate this milestone Anniversary on Saturday. The store will be offering free ‘food art’ activities with the new mobile Earth Art Studio between noon and 4 p.m. There will be free cake and prizes.
The store is at 2733A Dunsmuir Ave.