Letter to Contributors October 2021

What does it take to build a movement?

I’m writing to thank you for being a contributor to YYC Growers’ Crowdfunding campaign. It means a lot to us that you share our hopeful optimism about what this organization can achieve and we acknowledge that you, personally, are an integral part of the system! 

YYC Growers’ purpose is to connect farmers with eaters by gathering and distributing nutrient-dense food through a system that regenerates our environment and community and supports the local economy. What does this mean, you may ask? 

By purchasing your food from YYC Growers & Distributors; you are supporting a system that emphasizes responsible agricultural practices, local economic growth and a demonstrated effort to support environmental conservation!

This is no small feat, and you are a visionary for choosing to be part of this solution. I want to share a little about what we are doing in each of these purpose areas and give you an update on the Crowdfunding campaign and your T-shirt!

  • Nutrient-dense food: Simply put, soil health equals plant health equals human health. Research into the nutrient density of common vegetables has shown a decline of between 25% and 50% of vitamin A, vitamin E, calcium, iron, and other nutrients from 1975 to 2011. This means that the quality and the taste of conventionally produced fresh food is rapidly declining. In 2018, the Bionutrient Food Association studied the variability of nutrient density of carrots and spinach from different growing methods, and found an astonishing variation. Carrots showed a 200:1 variation in polyphenols and a 90:1 variation in antioxidants. For a visually engaging look at the results, check out these charts! Think about that, it means you have to eat 200 low-grade carrots to get the same polyphenol content as one carrot grown in healthy soil such as you would receive from YYC Growers. It really reframes the concept of the price of food, and shows the incredible service that our farmers are doing for your health as well as that of the soil.

  • Environment: The environmental benefits of the food system you are participating in is something that we can all be very proud of. The impact you make by choosing to purchase food grown by farmers who are actively improving the carbon storage capacity of their soil and from efficient hyper-local farms that minimise transport and storage emissions is monumental. Agriculture accounts for 24% of global emissions and 12% of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions, and we are providing everyone an avenue for positive personal action to reverse this emission source. In the bigger picture, we are prototyping a food system that can be replicated in other areas to multiply this impact and create strong market demand for farmers who choose to put the health of the soil, water and the climate first! We have recently hired a soil fertility expert who will be building a baseline database of soil and foliar analysis from our farms to quantify the impact that we are catalysing. We were also recognized by the Alberta Emerald Foundation for our environmental work, winning the 2021 award for business (stay tuned for a podcast and documentary from Emerald Foundation).
  • Community: Our mission is to be social connectors and foster an authentic sense of community, particularly between urban and rural populations that have become increasingly segregated around the world. We offer you the opportunity to truly know your farmers and some of them may even be your neighbours in Calgary! The success of our rural and urban farm tours this fall was a great example of creating community and connection around the production of food that we all eat every day! When you pick up your food and meet one of our volunteers, they put their time and their love into this system and create personal connections. Not to mention the network of local businesses that partner with us as pickup locations. Please give them some love when you visit their stores!
  • Local Economy: Looking back on our books for 2020, we found that over 95% of the revenue that you, our customers, contributed to YYC Growers was returned to the local economy. That includes our farmers, local food producers, staff, and many other local businesses. In the conventional food supply chain, Canadian farmers receive an average of 21.5% of a dollar spent on food at the grocery store. Our farmers receive 65-70% of your dollar, and they also re-invest that in our local economy. In these times of global disruptions to supply chains and political instability, the simple act of choosing to support businesses that return what you spend with them to your local economy is a heroic act of self-resilience.

So, what does it take to create a movement? It takes people like you! In recognition of this, everyone who has contributed $50 or more to the Crowdfunding campaign will soon be receiving a beautiful t-shirt screen printed with a design by local artist Siri Olson. We invite you to wear these with pride and start a conversation with someone about what that veggie heart on your shirt represents!

We have pivoted the crowdfunding campaign, to make it simpler and more approachable for people to get involved. All the items can now be found on our new website. To get an extra t-shirt, or if you know someone who would like one, they are available now! We will be cutting off orders and doing a print run soon to make sure that everyone gets their shirts before Christmas.

We also have an incredible long-table dinner experience coming up in the new year, that will feature four top Calgary chefs demonstrating their interpretation of local food for the participants. For those who prefer to cook at home, we are curating a guided online cooking experience with a meal kit containing all the ingredients.

Thank you again for your belief and support and we are excited to continue this mission with you on our team!

Louis Brown

Lead Link, YYC Growers & Distributors