Mustard Seed Co-Op Launches in Hamilton

By Emma Cubitt
Published November 27, 2012

A new co-operative grocery store called The Mustard Seed Co-op is about to become Hamilton's first non-profit grocery store. Hamiltonians passionate about improving local and wholesome food options are creating a new grocery alternative - a beautiful place to shop that promotes food access and education, strong connections between local producers and consumers, and a vibrant sense of community.

The Mustard Seed will be a community-owned store. Local residents can directly impact their community through a $100 membership share, providing a direct democratic tool for reshaping our food choices.

The Co-op will help consumers overcome the challenges of eating local - research, logistics, buying power - while making wholesome and organic products more affordable. Members can directly impact the issues of food access faced by many in our city.

With a grand opening target of May 2013, a Membership Launch Party is scheduled for November 29 at the Central Public Library, Wentworth Room. Everyone who is passionate about quality local and wholesome foods, equitable food access and affordability, and community health is invited to join.

Emma lives in downtown Hamilton in a historic 700 square foot house with her husband, Graham. As an Architect and Principal with the Hamilton firm Invizij Architects, the majority of her work in the past decade have been affordable projects for Indwell and other non-profits. She loves the challenge of transforming the dark corners our city into places of restoration & healing. In recent years, her focus has been on Passive House design, or ultra-low energy buildings to help our community lead the way towards a low carbon future.


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By Interested (anonymous) | Posted November 27, 2012 at 07:10:49

A great idea. Does the $100 just get you access to buy from the store and be involved in the Board decisions?

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By interested (anonymous) | Posted November 27, 2012 at 07:15:32 in reply to Comment 83238

I meant to include that I checked your site but the benefits of becoming a member is a broken link. :(

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By emma (anonymous) | Posted November 27, 2012 at 09:47:16 in reply to Comment 83239

Thanks interested! Sorry about the broken link, I've fixed it now. Yikes!
Here is the page for more info on membership:

And here is a page with FAQs.

Anyone can shop at the store, but membership will get you discounts and real ownership in the business.

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By DrAwesomesauce (registered) | Posted November 27, 2012 at 09:40:20

Fabulous news. I love the idea.

Has a location been set?

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted November 27, 2012 at 11:10:35 in reply to Comment 83248

DrA, there is also some more info in an article about the Mustard Seed in today's Spec. From the article, no, a location has yet to be set.

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By Faithless (anonymous) | Posted November 27, 2012 at 13:26:41

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By Julie (registered) | Posted November 27, 2012 at 17:19:36 in reply to Comment 83263

I don't recall where, but I think I recall that they settled on the name because of the mustard connection to Hamilton. We had the Mustard Festival, and the mustard processing plant, and I'm going to assume that mustard was also a local crop (though I've honestly no idea on that one).

I also don't recall any mention in any of their social media stuff that they even hinted at a religious connection. I'm fairly sure it there were, they'd be using the phrase "social justice", but thank god, so far, they're not.

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By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted November 27, 2012 at 15:17:58 in reply to Comment 83263

If this makes you leery, I would be interested to know what, if anything, you would feel comfortable allowing religious people to do.

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted November 27, 2012 at 13:56:57 in reply to Comment 83263

Not really sure where you are getting a religious connection but who cares if there is. It's a co-op which would be run by it's members and workers anyway. I am sure many local farmers are devout church folk.

I may not be a believer in religion but to each their own. I do believe faith in something is important. The best part of church in my mind is the communities they build and how they help one another within and outside of the church so if that aspect is being brought into this venture, I don't think it's a bad thing.

Nowhere does it mention church or God or anything like that on the website so rather than a open comment like that, back it up and let us know how it really matters.

Otherwise, best of luck to them.

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By theninjasquad (registered) - website | Posted November 27, 2012 at 13:34:33 in reply to Comment 83263

there's a religious connection to the co-op?

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By mrgrande (registered) | Posted November 27, 2012 at 14:54:59

So is $100 a standard price for being part of a grocery co-op? I like the idea, but it seems steep at first glance (especially considering no location is sorted out yet, so it might be inconvenient for me to get to).

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By Leap of faith (anonymous) | Posted November 27, 2012 at 17:34:12 in reply to Comment 83268

To use the metaphors from the earlier comments, I think joining a co-op before it is actually opened is a bit of a leap of faith. Faith in your community and in real positive change through grassroots efforts.

Obviously they are going to do their best to place the store in the best spot for the business and the membership. People who firmly stand behind the vision of the co-op will become members right away to help give momentum. Those who are not as sure might wait until the location is set. I imagine the sooner they build the membership, the sooner they could actually sign a lease. Does that make sense?

I don't think $100 is a large cost to be an owner in a business, and co-op memberships are refundable so really you can look at it as an investment. You can read more in their FAQs: I'm going to join on Thursday - I'm really excited to shop at a grocery store that prioritizes local food in the downtown!

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By Conrad66 (registered) | Posted November 28, 2012 at 10:01:12

I love this idea .. i use to be a member in a co-op like this down east New Brunswick to be on target ... i whould give 100$ to them if they bilt it in ward 2 or 3 .. but we al know its going to be on the mountain like everry other good things happeneds .. c.on the mountain have there Costco let use benefite from this !!!!!

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By emma (anonymous) | Posted November 28, 2012 at 13:20:01 in reply to Comment 83281

Hi Conrad66 - Just to clarify, The Mustard Seed will definitely be in either Ward 1 or 2 and either within or walkable distance from the downtown core. Not the Mountain! We'll see how much interest there is in the Co-op in Hamilton - maybe there will be other sites in the future but this Seed is sprouting in the downtown (walkable/bikable/and car-friendly). So look, now you HAVE to join!

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By Conrad66 (registered) | Posted November 28, 2012 at 13:28:10 in reply to Comment 83289

Hi Emma,

Thanks for the info and ward 2 sounds like a good fit it whould be close to were in from south sherman hub and i love to walk and bike :)

Conrad :)

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By moylek (registered) - website | Posted November 29, 2012 at 21:09:12

Quite a turn out this evening for the launch party at the library. I didn't count heads, but it's hard to imagine that there were fewer than 200 people there.

I'll be very interested to know how many members there were before, after and in about a week (once on-line payments come in).

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