The Cowichan Co-operative Marketplace (Cow-op), the first online farmer’s market on Vancouver Island, is proving that small is mighty when it comes to supporting farmers and feeding the community.
With this year’s surge in grocery prices, Islanders are facing challenges in accessing affordable, quality food options.
Meanwhile, farmers and food producers are struggling to stay afloat in the midst of inflation.
Cow-op is at the forefront of the solution to these problems, connecting consumers directly with local farmers, and creating a food secure Cowichan region in the process.
This co-operative takes a “farmers first” approach, with a markup on fresh produce that is notably low; only 25 per cent, compared to 50 per cent or more at large grocery chains depending on the item.
Established in 2014, the Cow-Op.ca online marketplace makes it possible for South Island customers to order food for home delivery from more than 70 different Cowichan Valley farms and producers, with the bulk of revenue going straight to farmers’ pockets.
“Cow-op has consistently maintained razor-thin profit margins. We take pride in our commitment to fair pricing, which sets us apart as pioneers of the online farmer’s market,” said Chelsea Abbott, general manager for Cow-Op.
“Our farmers manage their own product listings and set their prices for seasonal products, so unlike big grocery chains who usually pay cents on the dollar, our producers can actually earn a living.”