Fireweed Food Co-op dedicated to sustainably produced food

Fireweed Food Co-op is a non-profit co-operative for producers and supporters of Manitoba-grown sustainably produced food. They were founded under the belief that small-scale, mixed farming is the most ecologically sustainable and resource-efficient kind of agriculture.

They envision a food system that makes good food more accessible to more individuals, families and the community as a whole.

Fireweed Food Co-op is dedicated to creating a collaborative regional food system that prioritizes regenerative and sustainable ecological practices, fair labour, and increased accessibility to good food for all. They are always looking for ways to ensure the bounty of local food in Manitoba is reaching beyond the communities that are currently able to purchase it.

According to Lex van Dyck, supplier/coordinator for Fireweed, “We see the impact our work has on farmers and other food producers, giving them an additional channel to sell their food and building a foundation to support their businesses.

The members co-op and non-profit structures of Fireweed allow us to put producers first, along with social and environmental concerns.

Our contributions run from redirecting food waste from the South Osborne Farmers’ Market into Waste Not hampers that feed 25 families weekly — to piloting the Veggie Van mobile market to bring subsidized local produce into communities in Winnipeg without regular farmers’ markets,” they say.

Fireweed hopes to see the sustainability of farming improve in Manitoba, and see supporting farmers and food producers who are making these important changes as a fundamental step to expanding the adoption of practices that improve soil health, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, preserve pollinator diversity, and reduce or eliminate the use of conventional pesticides and fertilizers.

On the food security side of the organization, they target their work towards neighbourhoods and populations who are systemically underserved and excluded.

Fireweed see the importance of creating safer spaces in the Food Hub and in the broader work of the Food Co-op, but they also realize that the far-reaching change they want to see requires deeper systems work. 

“We want to deepen our connections that we have with other organizations and businesses who share our values.

We’ve cultivated fruitful relationships with food security advocates, producers, chefs, community members and non-profits such as Food & Beverage Manitoba,” Lex says.

I think we’re helping to prove that a thriving local food economy can start from a place of access and justice, and can grow to support small producers and eaters alike.”

And on the Food Hub and sales side of the organization, they make extra space to support producers who face additional barriers to participating in the local food system. 

For Lex, the biggest reward of the work is the relationships with food producers.

“We hope that through collaboration and collectivization, we’ll see small farms grow and proliferate, and local food production become a larger part of the food landscape in Manitoba.

These are people with widely varied production methods, food products, and personal backgrounds.”

We want to support the inclusion of local foods in the menus of public institutions in Manitoba, sharing the bounty with those who might not otherwise be able to purchase or access these nutritious foods, ” Lex continues.

Over time, Fireweed Food Co-op wants to expand their reach throughout Manitoba, particularly towards supporting fishers and traditional food harvesters.

They want to support the inclusion of local foods in the menus of public institutions in Manitoba, sharing the bounty with those who might not otherwise be able to purchase or access these nutritious foods.

Fireweed Food Co-op and their producers are united in their commitment to caring for the land and producing good food. Seeing their businesses grow and their food reach people around the city is one of the delights of this work.