Tag Archives: Organic

Workshop: Grow A Great Organic Veggie Garden Saturday May 12th

2 May

BasketofVeggiesThe Italian Cultural Centre is hosting a workshop for aspiring gardeners on Saturday, May 12th.  Shauna MacKinnon will lead this workshop and teach you how to grow a veggie garden using organic practices.   You will learn how to build your soil, what crops to choose, when to plant and how to keep your plants healthy for abundant harvests all season long.  Along with your new found knowledge, you will leave with a primer on healthy soil, a planting calendar and sample seeds.  Cost is $25 per person. All ages are welcome to this workshop and kids under 12 are free. To learn more about Shauna or to register, visit the Italian Cultural Centre. 

Social Enterprise: A Conversation With Elizabeth McKitrick, Second Nature Home

1 May

SecondNatureHomeLocal writer, Maryam Khezrzadeh, recently prepared a feature on the platform, Medium.  Her article was on a local business, Second Nature Home, which is also a social enterprise.  With Maryam’s permission, we have set out her article below. Social enterprises are noble undertakings, but they need to be profitable as well to survive and finding that balance is important and we want to see these businesses succeed.  Without further ado, Maryam’s feature:

People don’t buy from a business just because it is doing something good for the society. So how do social enterprises succeed? How do they compete with the increasingly socially aware big corporations?

Elizabeth McKitrick is the founder of Second Nature Home Boutique, a social enterprise in the Trout Lake/Cedar Cottage neighbourhood in East Vancouver.

One afternoon, a few years ago, I entered the shop for the first time, expecting boutique prices for the boutique quality. But I was surprised! The well-made, beautiful pottery, linens, jewelry, woodwork, self-care and edibles were all priced comparably lower than same or similar items in other stores. What was going on? What a gem, I thought!

I became a regular and the shop became a place not only to refill soap and shampoo bottles, but also to learn about the city, the people who made the products sold at the store and the goings-on around the neighbourhood.

For the second episode of “Ten Minute Conversations”, I invited Elizabeth McKitrick to tell us about the boutique, its social mission and how it survives and thrives in an expensive city such as Vancouver. To listen to an interview with Elizabeth McKitrick, visit Soundcloud.

What is a Social Enterprise?

Most people are confused about what a social enterprise really is. A 2013 survey in UK revealed that only one in five people can correctly identify a social enterprise. Half of the public either thinks that a social enterprise relies on grants and donations to provide support to people (charity), or that the main purpose of a social enterprise is to return profits to individual owners and shareholders (traditional business). None of these definitions capture the essential nature of a social enterprise.

At its core, a social enterprise, has a mission to address specific issues within a society. The enterprise assumes responsibility to change an unjust situation for the better and sometimes even transform whole societies, and it does so by participating in the economy. It is this direct economic activity and the central steering role of a core mission, that marks a social enterprise.

This is how Elizabeth defines it:

A social enterprise is one whose social mission is just as important as their financial mission. So it’s on equal footing; you have to make a profit in order to be in business, but the profits are re-invested back into the business for the benefit of “all involved”.

There are a number of things that fall into the social mission for Second Nature. Elizabeth and her team are aware of the consequences of social isolation, and so they’re committed to make a place that encourages and enhances connectedness; a place where people can come and be known to one another, meet their neighbours and have a conversation.

The enterprise is also committed to promote conversations around the environment and how our ways of living and climate change might be related. Furthermore, the shop has equipped the neighbourhood with a soap refilling system to target plastic waste.

 SNHSoapStation

It is direct economic activity and the central steering role of a social mission, that marks a social enterprise.

The financials do terribly matter though. As we mentioned, people don’t buy from a business just because it is a do-gooder. A small percentage of people give a very high priority to ethical considerations (early adopters), but a significantly larger population, considers the ethics of a business only after everything else (price, quality, availability) is more or less the same. So a social enterprise, like any other business, has to find a way to provide good value.

Good Value: Price, Quality & Intrigue

The shop, purposely tries to keep its pricing low, because it is located in a mixed income neighbourhood. The majority of families and individuals in the neighbourhood, Elizabeth tells us, live on strict budgets. The way Second Nature manages to offer beautiful, local, handmade products at affordable prices, is by partnering with makers who are also in the same situation.

This co-dependent and co-development of makers and buyers, facilitated by a (not-greedy) social enterprise might just offer a fair equilibrium. The makers get all their costs covered and also receive 60% of the profits. The shop receives 40% of the profits. But the margins are moderate, not high. And sometimes even, the shop and the makers strategically decide to cut back on their margins to be able to offer certain valuable products that have longevity to them:

For example we have some linen towels that we bring in that are all ethically sourced, and they are pricy! but we do try to keep the margins down …we are not making 50% or 60% markup on them which we know some other stores are doing! (laughs) … you could use [these towels] for twenty years and wouldn’t have to buy another towel.

Elizabeth McKitrick (center) and Elya Bergen (right) inside Second Nature boutique.

It is not easy work to curate quality goods and maintain good prices. Second Nature invests a lot of time and effort researching and testing the products. It is the shop’s direct alliance with an army of local makers that makes it possible to not only test and filter goods more effectively, but also to offer a very diverse array of products. “And that’s part of the intrigue”, Elizabeth believes, “people come in and go, oh! I’ve never seen anything like this before!”

For Second Nature, though, makers are not just strategic partners:

We also encourage people to go outside … It doesn’t have to go through us. We encourage the expansion of the makers’ influence. We are about promoting artisans and helping them to be solidly supported, so they can continue making beautiful things.

But why is it so important to support local makers?

The Importance of Circular Economy

When you support a local artisan, you’re giving the money into their pocket, so that they can buy other local products. And it’s strengthening the local community in a way that would not ever happen. It’s very organic.

Locally owned businesses in Canada re-circulate 2.6 times more revenue back into the local economy than multi-national chains. It’s not only that local business are more likely to buy local services and products, it’s also that they employ people in the community and support local events, sports teams and charities. So money gets recirculated many times and in many ways within the community invigorating the local economy and making it grow.

Why Local? Infographic from BC Buy Local.

Elizabeth believes that the community’s understanding of this ripple effect has definitely increased in the past few years. “There is a desire to buy local”, she tells us. People are more aware of true costs of producing, consuming and disposal of a product and so are adapting new attitudes towards their purchasing. More people see paying a little more for local products as “investing in the life of another person or another family” and investing in a product that they love and are going to wear, keep and use for a long time. A departure from rapid consumerism.

Reprinted With Permission: Maryam Khezrzadeh

Spring & Summer Markets In East Van 2018

25 Apr

Spring is finally here which means lots of lots of farmer markets starting around East Vancouver. There is always a great selection of  local produce, handmade goods, artisans breads, locally made jams, cheese, free range and organic eggs and of course wineries, breweries as well as spirits.  Each market is unique and offers a little something different. Trout Lake hosted by Vancouver Farmers Market is the largest. The location makes it rather perfect to have a picnic on the spot in the nearby park with your new purchases.  Mount Pleasant Farmers Market which is in Dude Chilling Park is a smaller market, but we love that it’s on a Sunday. The Italian Market is held approximately once a month during the summer months on Friday afternoon in the parking lot in front of the Italian Cultural Centre. It offers a similar selection of goods, but with more emphasis on Italian which includes food trucks and other gourmet food items. The Italian Cultural Centre also has a number of other events going in the summer including art exhibits, live music and/or dancing.  The Main Street Farmers Market is a great afternoon market and perfect for those just leaving downtown for home, or a quick cycle from Mount Pleasant and the Olympic Village. We have set out below the dates when the markets begin and end for the Spring/Summer season. We encourage you to stop by one or all of these markets during the summer season and support local.

Trout Lake Farmers Market
9:00 am – 2:00 pm
Every Saturday: May 5, 2018 – October 20, 2018
Location: Lakewood Drive & E 13th Avenue

Main Street Station Farmers Market
2:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Every Wednesday: June 6, 2018 – October 3, 2018
Location: 1100 Block Station Street along Thornton Park across from the VIA Rail Station and near the Main St Skytrain Station

Mount Pleasant Farmers Market
10:00 am – 2:00 pm
Every Sunday:  May 27, 2018 – October 7, 2018
Location: Guelph Street between 7th & 8th Avenues (on the paved play area between Mt. Pleasant Elementary and Guelph Park/Dude Chilling Park)

Riley Park Farmers Market
10:00 am – 2:00 pm
Every Saturday: April 28, 2018 – October 27, 2018
Location: 30th Avenue and Ontario Street

Italian Market
5:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Fridays: June 15, 2018 + July 13, 2018 + August 17, 2018
Location: Italian Cultural Centre – 3075 Slocan Street

Taste of East Van – An Outdoor Long Table Dinner July 21st

4 Jul

LongTableDinner.pngThe Italian Cultural Centre is hosting a delicious outdoor long table dinner on Thursday, July 21st called The Taste of East Van. This evening is a collaboration with Slow Food Vancouver and will showcase local, organic and sustainable produce and cuisine. You will also have an opportunity to learn more about local growers and producers. The evening runs from 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm. Tickets are $45 and are available online or by calling the Italian Cultural Centre between 9:00 am to 5:00 pm at 604.430.3337.

Photo Credit: Italian Cultural Centre

 

Long Table Outdoor Dinner At The Italian Cultural Centre August 26

6 Aug

LongTablePhotosA few years ago, I spent a month travelling around Italy. One of the best meals I had was a long table dinner in a working vineyard in Tuscany. It was a long ornate table set with wine and vin santo (dessert wine) made on site. It was truly one of the most amazing meals I’ve ever had and set in one of the most beautiful places I’ve travelled. The added bonus was meeting and getting to know people from all over the world and hearing about their travels.  Well the Italian Cultural Centre is bringing a bit of that Italian feel of the outdoor long table dinner to East Vancouver. They are hosting a long table dinner which will showcase local, organic and sustainable produce and cuisine. The long table dinner will take place Wednesday, August 26th from 7:00 to 10:00 pm. This event is a collaboration with Slow Food Vancouver and is being billed as an “Urban Farm to Table”. You are invited on a food journey through Vancouver’s urban farms and learn about their sustainability. Tickets are available online or by calling Veronica at the Italian Cultural Centre between 9:00 am to 5:00 pm at 604.430.3337. We look forward to seeing you. This is one event we won’t be missing.

New In Town: Raw Soap Skincare … Natural Products Made With Love In East Van

20 Apr

RawSoapSkincareWe love finding out about new businesses making their way in East Vancouver. Today we would like to introduce to Alisha Danielle and her company, Raw Soap Skincare.   After some health issues in her 20s, Alisha became very aware of all the chemicals being absorbed through the skin in many of the day to day personal care products we use.  She slowly began to eliminate a number of products from her daily  routine and replace them with better options. Many of the alternatives she found with all natural ingredients, came at a steep price.  So Alisha did her research and started making her own moisturizers, soaps, scrubs and shaving creams and gave them away as gifts. Everyone loved the products, low and behold a business was born, Raw Soap Skincare. Alisha’s soap and skin care products are natural, organic, ethical, eco-friendly vegan, fair trade and sustainable.   Her mission is to create products that promote inner and outer balance, while giving back to our worldwide community. Raw Soap Skincare will donate 5% of their profits to a different not-for-profit charity each month. Until April 31st, Raw Soap Skincare is donating that 5% to thewaterproject.org.  An organization unlocking human potential by providing sustainable water projects to communities in sub-Saharan Africa.

Currently Raw Soap Skincare is only available online through Etsy and the product line ranges in price from $3.75 – $5.00 and includes:

VanCity CocoCamoNilla Soap
Hornby Honey Be Like Lemonade Soap
Tuff City Green Tea Soap
Commercial Drive Rooibos Goddess Lemongrass Exfoliate Bar
Sea To Sky Fly High Sunrise Exfoliate Bar
Mt Pleasant Peaceful Pumice Exfoliate Bar
The Grove Rosemary Reefer Exfoliate Bar
P.Dot Lavender Pop Exfoliate Bar

In the coming months, Alisha plans to expand her product line to include sugar scrubs, body butters, shaving cream, lip balm, a special homeopathic salve for sore muscles as well as bath salts and herbal facial steamers. You can also expect her products at some select retail locations in the coming months.  If you live in East Vancouver and make your  online Etsy purchase, you can pick orders directly from Alisha and forego the shipping costs.  We invite you to check out this great new product line made right here in East Vancouver which means you will be supporting local with every purchase made. Right now, for every order over $25.00, free shipping is currently available if you use the Code HONEYBEE.RawSoapBars

 

New In Town: Second Nature Home Eco-Friendly & Organic Products For Home

21 Feb

second_nature_logo_webWe would like to introduce to a great new store in East Vancouver called Second Nature Home brought to you by social entrepreneur, Elizabeth McKitrick. Second Nature Home is a retail store entirely focused on eco-friendly and organic products for the home. If you get a chance to talk with Elizabeth, you will quickly realize she is passionate about the environment and living a sustainable life.

Second Nature Home has an amazing array of items for the home including locally sourced products for the home, curated decorative arts as well as a great vintage section. What we loved was the refilling station for laundry soaps, shampoo, dish detergent, body wash and hand soap with products from local companies, Sapadilla Soap Co., Pacific Coast Soapworks and Gingko & Maple. Their products are made from natural and organic ingredients with essential oils. Elizabeth has bottled product lines available for sale, or you can bring your own containers to the shop and fill them there. The beauty of this, of course, is no plastics to recycle. The added bonus is the wonderful aromatherapy of the soap products themselves, including lavender-lime, grapefruit-bergamot, rosemary-peppermint (some unscented options available too).

Second Nature offers custom gift baskets for any occasion that can be put together with local organic products, and coming soon is an online gift registry. Oh and did we mention bicycle delivery to the local neighbourhood–a trial service will be rolled out this summer, beginning in the Trout Lake/Cedar Cottage area. When it comes to being a socially responsible company, Elizabeth not only talks the talk, she walks the walk. Second Nature Home provides valuable skills development opportunities and mentoring for immigrant women and supports community ecological activity.

Second Nature Home is located at 1827 Victoria Diversion which is the one block stretch that connects Victoria Drive and Commercial Drive located next to the Croatian Cultural Centre. Second Nature Home is open Tuesday to Saturday 10:00 am to 6:00 pm, but open Fridays until 8:00 pm and Sunday 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm and closed Mondays.

SecondNatureBookCase

SecondNatureCeramics SecondNatureChair SecondNatureHomeJewellery SecondNatureHoney SecondNatureHoneySingle SecondnatureWood

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