Art and agriculture powering business

by Barb Brouwer


Art and agriculture powering business

by Barb Brouwer

Ten Shuswap women are powering up their passion for entrepreneurship with Tsuts’weye. The Art and Agriculture (A2) Program is part of a three-year initiative funded by Western Economic Diversification Canada and facilitated locally by Community Futures Shuswap.
A2 participants have the benefit of workshops and classes along with one-on-one business mentor support. Each woman is learning to apply what she learns in the classroom directly to her business. Each of the following four A2 program participants has similar goals for advancing her own unique business::

Serena Caner – Souper Meal
“I’m looking into making affordable soups that we could deliver to schools for their hot-lunch program,” she says, noting many students need lunches but because most schools lack cooking facilities, single-serving snack food and granola bars are regular menu items. “It’s better than nothing but it’s not great for a kid who is not getting well fed at home either.”

Serena would like to expand the free Friday lunch program currently in place at Jackson, which serves soup, a bun and fruit to 180 to 200 students.
“I’m trying to figure how to make this a business,” she says, suggesting the society might consider providing schools with soup at a subsidized rate at the same time establishing reliable funding by selling to the public at a higher rate. “The nice thing about soup is we can make it out of local food ingredients, making it fairly affordable and healthy.” Contact Serena @ canerserena@gmail.com.

Linda Watson – Suspence Designs
Linda combined her love of sewing with business in 1982, making lingerie in her Lower Mainland home. “I decided I wanted a Victorian Line, which features white cotton and lace, is old-fashioned, vintage, very detailed and very romantic.”

Linda put her business on hold in 2000 to take care of family business. Sixteen years later and following her mom’s death, Linda and her husband moved to Salmon Arm. “I’m giving it my all,” she says of her newfound passion for restarting her business and setting goals.

Using her own patterns, Linda designs, creates and shows her stunning pieces in her in-home workshop and gallery. White cotton blouses trimmed with lace are displayed among equally romantic night gowns and lingerie.

“This time I am concentrating on a children’s line and adult daywear like bathing suit covers,” she says. Linda’s romantic collection is currently available at the Sorrento Artisans’ Market and the Saturday morning market on Ross Street in Salmon Arm.
Contact Linda by email @ spencewatson@shaw.ca.

CSRD FireSmart
CSRD FireSmart
CSRD FireSmart
CSRD FireSmart

Nika Guilbault – Wild Valley Farmz
While Nika isn’t worried about which came first, chicken and egg sales are the foundation on which she is building her agri business.And the Agriculture and Art Program is helping her discover creative ways to do that.

“This program is helping to open so many doors; it is helping me to remove boxes and think outside the box,” she says, noting she is responding to the public’s growing preference to eat locally grown and produced food. “I’m very hands-on and I love working on the farm, but I am finding the computer and administrative work quite interesting too.”Nika’s goal is to raise food on a small to medium scale. While the current mainstay is the sale of eggs, which Nika delivers throughout the Shuswap on Tuesdays, pork and beef sales are planned.

Meat chickens are being raised for sale and baby chicks are also available. As well, Nika says she will be working meat sales in tandem with her mother who raises sheep on her farm.

“We are planning to offer mixed boxes and will have farm gate sales.” she says of her Turtle Valley farm. “Future plans include building a huge food forest providing berries and other fruit.”

Despite the long hours required to run the farm, Nika says she is happy her desire to provide good food for her family is being expanded to other families. Contact Nika by email @ wildvalleyfarmz@gmail.com.

Justine Atwood – Los Lobos Artisans
Justine and friend Kara Hamblin, who founded Los Lobos Artisans, create small-batch chocolates and confectionary. The women are both trained pastry chefs with a passion for producing sweet treats such as salted caramels and macarons from the highest quality ingredients.
“We use cocoa and caramel and try to limit the use of additives,” says Justine. “Kara’s specialty is craft truffles.”

The women have been investigating local flavours such as Salmon Arm’s Canadian Barley Company Mo’mugi organic tea, and are planning to add chocolate bars to the product line.

Justine and Kara participated in the grand opening of The She Shed Market, an enterprise created by another Agriculture and Art Program participant – Monique Cusson.

“One of the best things about the program is the inclusiveness of being able to talk about things that are different but very much the same in terms of creating a business model for success, specifically geared to food production and artisans,” says Justine, who calls the networking opportunities amazing and very helpful. Email Justine and Kara @ loslobosartisan@gmail.com.

For more information on this and other Tsuts’weye programs, visit www.tsutsweye.ca