Our Local Markets

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Our Local Markets

Port Alberni, CanadaPort Alberni, Canada
Organization type: 
for profit
Project Stage:
$50,000 - $100,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Our solution provides the road map to revitalizing food production in rural communities throughout British Columbia.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

According to BC STATS (2010), in terms of health problems, Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District (ACRD) ranked the second “worst-off” region in the province. When it comes to economic hardship, ACRD is fourth from the bottom. This region is facing tough socio-economic problems. People need to eat healthier food. Food that is grown locally is fresh and that means it tastes better and is more nutritious. Buying locally produced food improves health and is good for the local economy. Many local farmers are facing tough economic times. They are good at growing food but often do not have the resources to market and distribute their products. Many food producers have expressed a need for affordable marketing and distribution.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Our solution is to provide local farmers and artisan food producers with affordable, high-impact e-commerce marketing and distribution services. Our solution offers the following benefits: It gives consumers access to fresh, nutritional, and tasty food; It supports local food producers; It retains local jobs; It benefits the local economy; It strongly encourages local trade; It increases awareness of locally grown food; It reduces food miles; and finally, selling direct offers food producers room for better pricing. Our business model would work in most any community as a for-profit venture, non-profit organization, social enterprise, or co-operative venture. We chose a for-profit model because it removes politics. In our experience, it takes too long to accomplish goals under a board-driven organization. Revitalizing community economies by investing in local food is the first step towards taking more control of our future.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Our solution works much the same as a traditional farmer's market except much of the business would be conducted on the Internet -- it's an online farmer's market and distribution service. Local food producers would showcase their products on our website, then once a sale is made, we would pick up the products directly from the food producer and deliver them fresh to the consumer. Essentially, we would be the marketing and distribution arm for food producers. Food would be categorized on the website in the following manner: fruits and vegetables, cereals and grains, bakery, eggs, preserves, meat, fish, and specialty food boxes. Products would also be categorized according to the farm where they were produced. Organic farming and other appealing farming practices would be emphasized. Products would also be categorized to meet different health concerns, e.g. diabetes, heart disease, Celiac Disease (gluten-free), etc. People are becoming more conscious of the environmental impacts of their purchases. We are committed to using Eco-friendly marketing and distribution practices. Bicycles would be used regularly to deliver free product samples and information about products directly to the consumer's home. In-person contact through the delivery and marketing functions are essential for capturing consumer’ attention, creating positive emotions, and building relationships and networks.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Utilizing the Internet to market food is a relatively new idea. Two similar business models exist that serve the south end of Vancouver Island and both are focussed on "certified organic food." Neither extend distribution to Central Vancouver Island. Our focus is different as it is placed on "locally grown and produced food." We are coordinating the local food sector online. Our solution has a character similar to a traditional co-op approach. No other business offers Central Vancouver Island farmers and food producers an e-commerce website to market their products. We will place a special focus on common health problems through specially designed food boxes, e.g. a box containing low-sugar fruit and vegetables to help manage diabetes. No other on-line market has this focus.

Founding Story

About a year ago, I attended a community meeting to listen to the results of a study conducted on farming in the Alberni Valley. I knew at that meeting that our solution would work. The study revealed a need for more affordable marketing and distribution. Traditional advertising in daily newspapers is becoming ineffective and the expense often does not match the return. More and more people are seeking information online making websites a more effective marketing tool. According to Statistics Canada, 84% of the households in British Columbia had access to the Internet in 2010.
About You
Our Local Markets
About You
First Name


Last Name


About Your Organization
Organization Name

Our Local Markets

Organization Country

, BC, Port Alberni

Country where this solution is creating social impact

, BC, Port Alberni

Region in BC where your solution creates social impact

Vancouver Island, Columbia Basin.

How long has your organization been operating?

Less than a year

The information you provide here will be used to fill in any parts of your profile that have been left blank, such as interests, organization information, and website. No contact information will be made public. Please uncheck here if you do not want this to happen..

How long have you been in operation?

Operating for less than a year

Which of the following best describes the barrier(s) your solution addresses? Choose up to two

Access, Quality.

Social Impact
Please describe the goal of your initiative; outline what you are trying to achieve

Our overall goal is to play a strong role in helping to build a healthy sustainable community. We’re passionate about local food and believe that sustainable food production and offering a way for producers to maintain sustainable profit margins are important aspects of encouraging growth in the Alberni Valley's valuable food sector.

Our overall goal is to make a profit and a social impact. Both are equally important and dependant on each other.

What has been the impact of your solution to date?

A healthy, growing business would be an indicator that our solution is working. This is only our second week in operation and we have 9 local food producers on board: 5 farmers (vegetables, cereal/grains, eggs, poultry, and beef), 2 artisan food producers (bread, sausage), 1 fish producer (First Nations wild sockeye salmon), and 1 non-profit organization (vegetables). We have not had enough time in business to measure the social impact.

Since entering this competition we have been testing the market in Ucluelet. Without question, the market for local food is strong...even stronger than organic food. People have repeatedly thanked us for bringing affordable healthy food into their community. We have been invited into 8 different First Nation's communities on the west coast of the island. People in these communities need better access to healthy food. Once we are in full operation, we will be able to fullfill their needs.

What is your projected impact over the next five years?

Our mission is to make a social impact and a profit, to grow and evolve while staying true to our mission. It is difficult to measure the creation of social value. We will track individual stories from food producers and consumers. Are farmers hiring more people to meet an increase in demand? We will establish baseline data. What are consumer's preferences? Is the consumption of whole foods on the rise? This is an area that requires considerable thought.

Five years from now we hope to be a business model that other communities have adopted. It makes sense to coordinate the different sectors in rural communities in cyberspace then share marketing and distribution costs.

What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?

Our greatest barrier is financial -- the start-up costs. It is expensive to build a proper e-commerce website ($15,000 to $20,000). Many consumers are looking for greener ways to make purchases and would more easily buy into our solution if the website was up and running. We have participated in farmer's markets on central Vancouver Island and found the demand for local food is strong. Every week we are making a profit. We are getting excellent feedback from both our suppliers and consumers.

Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and track growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact

Surpass the break-even point in our business.

Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your six-month milestone
Task 1

Track monthly sales, consumer preferences, and individual stories. Make adjustments where needed.

Task 2

Add new markets making it possible to offer a wider variety of healthy food products.

Task 3

Educate the public and food producers about our solution.

Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone

Local farmers and artisan food producers increase production to meet a higher demand.

Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your 12-month milestone
Task 1

An easy-to-use professionally designed e-commerce website is up and running.

Task 2

We would have purchased a more efficient refrigeration truck for distribution

Task 3

All local farmers and artisan food producers will have their products showcased online

Tell us about your partnerships

We are currently working on gaining letters of support from local government and non-profit organizations in the community. At this time, we have letters of support from the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District, City of Port Alberni, and the Economic Development Corporation for the Alberni Valley. We are planning to talk with public officials in Ucluelet and Tofino in the coming weeks.

This past week, the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) asked us to participate in their forward planning process for next year's garden. CMHA produces high quality vegetables. We have kindly accepted.

Are you currently targeting other specific populations, locations, or markets for your solution? If so, where and why?

Right now, we are testing the marketplace in Ucluelet. The demand for local food is high. For example, yesterday, I made $340 in sales ($105 profit) in 2 hours at Ukee's night market. On August 24th, I participated in another market and made $935 in sales ($275 profit).

Forty one percent of the population of Qualicum Beach are sixty-four years old or older. This age group has a notable health problems and need healthier food.

Tofino is like Ucluelet and is somewhat isolated. News reports indicate this town does not always have an adequate supply of fresh produce.

What type of operating environment and internal organizational factors make your innovation successful?

We have low fixed and variable costs. The business is located outside of the City of Port Alberni's boundary therefore exempt from property business tax. Our store front will be in cyberspace.

Our website will be a cost-saving tool in streamlining processes, and a revenue-generating tool to support sales and marketing. Monthly fees for maintaining the website are around $40.

We already own land and the infrastructure needed to properly store food. We also own farming equipment that we share with people that are entering farming.

Basically we are coordinating the community's food sector online making the market larger for all food producers and making healthy food more accessible to everyone. In essence, we are building a stronger foundation.

Please elaborate on any needs or offers you have mentioned above and/or suggest categories of support that aren't specified within the list