British Columbia

Vancouver co-op Knives & Forks allows investments in local food producers

The Knives & Forks Community Investment Co-op allows unaccredited investors to invest up to $4,800 in local food producers and distributors.

Knives & Forks members can invest between $2,400 and $4,800, but won't get more than 2% return

New Vancouver co-op Knives & Forks allows investments in local food producers. (UIG via Getty Images)

A new investment co-operative in Vancouver is giving foodies who like to eat local a way of investing local too. The Knives & Forks Community Investment Co-op enables people to invest in local food production and distribution firms.

"We've seen tremendous movement and tremendous success in the farmers' markets," said Rory Holland, co-founder and director of the co-op.

"We wanted to take it one step further and provide an opportunity for people to actually invest in these farms so we could help farmers be financially viable and sustainable over a long term," 

Holland said using the co-op structure allows them to provide a way for anyone who has the funds to invest between $2,400 and $4,800.

"Up to now, the way investing in small companies goes is that it's really only the purview of accredited investors or people with means, and in fact there are rules and laws that stop people from being able to invest in these small risky businesses," Holland told B.C. Almanac host Gloria Macarenko.

Dane Brown stirs a vat of cider. His company Sunday Cider received the very first investment loan provided by new co-op Knives & Forks. (Instagram/Dane Brown)

A 'cidery' investment

After they had pooled $150,000 from approximately 50 investors, the co-op chose Sunday Cider, a new craft cidery in Vancouver that uses apples from the Similkameen Valley, as the recipient of their first loan.

The cidery was chosen from a handful of companies that presented to the co-op's members.

"We will do another round in the spring where we will invite more applications from companies and will allow the members again to choose who we move forward with," he said, adding that they have a maximum limit of 150 members.

Tremendous social return

Holland said members are told they will only get a return of about two per cent on their investment, but there are numerous other benefits for them.

"No one is going to get rich off this … but we also see that there's other kinds of returns. There's a community return, in terms [of keeping] farmers in the local community, there's an environmental return, in terms of the health of the soil, because we're looking to support local and organic," he said.

"And then there's also just the social return of local employment and money staying within the community, which we think is tremendous."

To hear the full interview listen to the audio labelled: New co-op invests only in local food producers and distributors


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