As people wake up to the knowledge the planet holds finite resources, a new economy is emerging out of the Tsuts’weye network. A circular economy is one in which an item is made, reused, recycled, repurposed, or repaired, unlike a traditional economy in which material is taken from the earth, made into something, used, then discarded.
Rather than simply considering profit, businesses are beginning to include the value of people and the planet in making long-term and sustainable goals.
Blumen Fields Flower Farm owner Nadine Charlton and Karla Ferster, co-owner of Frog Friendly Coffee are recent graduates of Tsut’sweye’s six-month Business Recovery and Expansion (BRE) program. They are emerging as dynamic female entrepreneurs who are collaborating and reinforcing their values and purpose-driven businesses.
Karla says Frog Friendly Coffee is a retort to resource-heavy coffee production in which plants require intense watering, fertilizing and spraying.
Eight years ago Karla and her husband bought a forest in Oaxaca, Mexico where coffee was introduced in the 1700s. Over time, the plants have naturalized and become part of the forest.
“Ours is the only coffee company in Canada that owns their supply chain from source to cup and the only company that has passed an audit that confirms our coffee is wild,” she says.
Karla was concerned, however, about what to do with the 1,200 or so burlap bags her coffee arrives in every year and is thrilled Nadine is using them in her business.
“I’m always looking for ways to up-cycle reusable products through our shared businesses,” Karla says of the other women entrepreneurs who were in the BRE program.
A master gardener, Nadine grows more than 450 varieties of flowers, not counting her perennials, bulbs and shrubs. She does not own a greenhouse because of the energy and resources required for their operation but has an unheated hoop house that allows for three-season growing.
She previously used craft paper to wrap her bouquets because it was the most sustainable product she could find. But she says it is a product that was only used once.
Now she fashions used burlap bags from Frog Friendly Coffee into bouquet wraps and attaches a small gift card suggesting buyers compost, use as mulch, create their own craft or return them to Blumen Fields Flower Farm.
“The public has responded; people are bringing back the pieces of burlap for me to reuse,” she says. “They’re realizing we’re doing our part. It’s fantastic.”
To learn more about the Tsuts’weye Business Recovery and Expansion program or to register for our fall intake, please visit tsutsweye.ca