Involving the community in canning production is CO-PO’s mission

Driven by the desire to bring the necessary change to “a happy and peaceful humanity”, attracted to the model of community-supported agriculture and passionate about holistic activities that take into account the global reality of being human, Ariane cooked up the idea of creating a meaningful project and embarked on the CO-PO adventure in 2017.

Impliquer la communauté dans la production de conserves, telle est la mission de CO-PO / Involving the community in canning production is CO-PO’s mission

Ariane Gagnon-Légaré, fondatrice de Co-po

CO-PO: Canned foods supported by the community

CO-PO wants to make local and organic fruit and vegetables available year-round through their canning activities at the community level, by creating a network of short canning production circuits. The project aims to:

  • reduce the ecological footprint of food and support a sound economy by connecting the people who produce, process and eat food, while supporting local farmers and reducing food waste in the spirit of a zero waste philosophy;
  • boost urban agriculture by using fruits and vegetables obtained from local farmers, as well as agricultural surpluses;
  • facilitate healthy eating through partnerships with food safety organizations, access to canned fruit and vegetables, and the dissemination of information and simple, tasty recipes;
  • increase food self-sufficiency while building the social fabric, reinforced by collective transformation activities involving citizens, organizations and businesses in a living environment.

CO-PO responds to the need to eat fruit and vegetables between harvest seasons by offering the most social and eco-responsible option available.

After documentary research, interviews and meetings with actors in the Montréal and Québec food systems, the first prototypes were born. Four canning production workshops were held in the fall of 2018: two tomato workshops open to the public, followed by two others, where young people in social and school reintegration programs canned applesauce and apple butter. The first stone was laid.

Developing CO-PO within the MIS Civic Incubator

Since its inception, CO-PO has been supported by Solon, an NPO that accompanies citizens in identifying, developing and implementing local community projects. The collective offers a credible entity in whose name it can garner support, particularly from funders, in order to move forward, as well as the support of a team in a benevolent environment, avoiding the phenomenon of the lone entrepreneur whose isolation often leads to discouragement and the abandonment of a project.

When Ariane saw the Civic Incubator’s call for applications, she decided to go to the information session with a friend.

“I didn’t think I was eligible since my project had already been underway for a few months and I was developing it within an existing organization (Solon). During the presentation, the MIS Civic Incubator’s openness to consider projects at different stages of development and in different contexts convinced me to apply.”

In order to evolve, the project needs a clear, transparent and co-constructed structure. These are methods and tools that Ariane came to seek from Civic Incubator stakeholders to make a decentralized and collaborative model work, involving a variety of stakeholders, both in terms of participants and partners.

“The Civic Incubator was a great experience, very rich. I enjoyed evolving within the cohort, getting to know this beautiful group of entrepreneurial people with inspiring ideas.”

Developing food self-sufficiency

Today, CO-PO is embarking on a commercialization phase to help Montrealers discover the true taste of canned goods of yesteryear where simplicity, raw products and the joy of producing together are the main ingredients. Among the activities to come in 2019: the establishment of various production sites, several workshops open to the public, the retail sale of foods as canned goods and in baskets.

The democratization of canning is an integral part of CO-PO’s vision, which seeks to facilitate the appropriation of these methods by the citizens as much as possible, where food processing would be relocated through the dissemination of knowledge and access to production infrastructure, as well as through peer support (group activities, connecting to the heart of the living environment). 

Are you ready to reconnect with this age-old conservation process and rediscover the pleasure of eating healthy and tasty food all year long? Follow CO-PO’s Facebook page to stay up to date with the latest news on the project.

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