The Co-op was formally incorporated in 2004. Today, more than 1000 members enjoy abundant, healthy, earth-friendly grocery foods and products. Worker members enjoy a fair wage, and local farms and businesses are steadily growing to supply the store’s needs.
Through the commitment and support of our community, the Co-op now owns the land where it stands, ensuring it’ll remain an important social hub and marketplace on our little island well into the future.
Cortes Natural Food Co-op is a community-owned cooperative business. We’re governed by a Board of Directors, including designated staff positions and members from the wider Cortes Island community, selected at the annual summer general meeting. We aim to remain financially strong for our community of member-owners, rather than generating profit for a single owner.
We operate on the seven Co-operative Principles set out by the international Co-operative Alliance:
Voluntary and open membership
Democratic member control
Member economic participation
Autonomy and independence
Education, training & information
Cooperation among cooperatives
Concern for the community
Fresh / Organic / Local
About 10% of our $1.8 million annual sales are from local products and the nearly $370,000 we pay our staff goes directly back into the local economy.
Members & Friends
Today, more than 1000 members enjoy abundant, healthy, earth-friendly grocery foods and products. Worker members enjoy a fair wage, and local farms and businesses are steadily growing to supply the store’s needs.
Meet the folks responsible for keeping the Cortes Natural Food Co-op on track.
Board of Directors
This is Suzanne’s third term on the Board. Her experience includes management in the restaurant business, organic food systems and sales.
“Some of the things I appreciate most about the Co-op are – all the beautiful locally grown food and artisan crafts, the café, events in the courtyard in summer, special dinner evenings and most important the amazing staff!”
Thea is delighted to be back on Cortes before finishing her final year of studies at the University of Victoria. She spent over four winters away from her island home and is excited to be back for an entire year.
“Having grown up on Cortes I’ve seen the Co-op grow and I joined the Board to do what I can to support the continuing evolution of this space.”
Meg’s sense of adventure coupled with her desire for independence and self sufficiency brought her to Cortes. Once the sense of adventure wore off, she realized she would rather spend the majority of her time fussing over her cat, foraging and growing as much of her own food as possible, and reading quietly by the wood stove (like any level-headed hobbit would!).
“The Co-op helps satisfy my desire to bring ethically responsible food to the tables of my community.”
The Savage family has been excited to be part of the CNFC since the beginning and as a family on Cortes is proud of all that’s happened in the making of the Co-op and in what exists today.
“To me, the CNFC reflects how well the core community of Cortes is doing and feeling about its self and the business. I see and love being part of the organization as we continue to actively grow relationship within membership, who depend on the business, and reflect the shared values of all those involved in this awesome Co-op!”
Iris moved in 1980 with her family from Germany to Cortes Island. Here they cultivated the land, establishing a beautiful abundant garden and reviving the old apple orchard on the farm.
“I love the nature that Cortes provides and I love hiking, writing, and enjoying time with family and friends! I’m passionate about reducing garbage and packaging, as well as reducing paper coffee cups.”
AMY WOLVERTON ROBERTSON
Amy was an organic farmer in the Fraser Valley before moving to Cortes with her three children in 1998. She’s been a member of the Co-op since the beginning and brings her experience of seven years as Chair of the Vancouver Farmer’s Markets to her position here, as well as a passion for gardening, good communication, and community involvement.
“I’m honoured to be involved with a Co-op that provides excellent food and steady employment in our community.”
De has lived on Cortes for six years and says the Co-op was a deciding factor for her move to the island, and since arriving has volunteered in various ways to help out. She feels that the CNFC is a good example of a social enterprise tangibly benefiting its community, and Cortes Island is a good example of a community that values and supports its Co-op.
“To me our Co-op represents not just tasty and healthy food, but a step on the path to a healthier economy and society. Long may our Co-op — and our community – thrive!”
Anne came to Cortes with her partner Sam to pursue a dream of small scale farming and living in community. The result is Big Fir Farm which supplies the Co-op with seasonal vegetables. Apart from farming she spends most of her time homesteading and taking care of her little guy Gael.
“I was inspired to sit on the Co-op board because I care deeply about its success, not only as a grower but also as a customer and a mum. The Co-op is the hub of Cortes and it feels great to be part of the team that keeps it thriving.”
ERIC HARGRAVE / General Manager
All the stars aligned for Eric and his family to move to Cortes. They had already decided to move to Canada – and hopefully Cortes – and their permanent residence application was in process. As a part of the extended Cortes community, Eric heard when the Co-op was looking for a manager and one thing led to another. He started as the General Manager less than a month after his residency was approved, and he’s been in that role for more than five years now.
“What I love most about the Co-op is the model it provides for a truly community-owned enterprise; in an age of increasingly concentrated capital, we literally spread the wealth. And the food, of course!”
JOSEE GAGNON / Store Buyer
Josée loves to be creative leading a varied life. Being out in the community working and having fun, or deep in the forest wandering with her kids and little dog, too.
Moving to Cortes at 19 was part of an adventure that began with visiting friends, babysitting and working at Linnaea Farm as well as oyster stringing! Now she’s living the dream at Manson’s with a super sweet family and a super sweet house!
“Working at the Co-op is one my great passions in life. Having grown up in an old Hudson’s Bay store, it feels practical and nostalgic to work at the store and I think it’s in my blood… my spirit feels the human connections and the universal need to share, distribute and source goods.”
ELKE FINLEY / Till Supervisor
Elke fell in love with Cortes Island when she first visited in the spring of 2014. It felt instantly like home. She happily moved here in 2015 and loves living on the island, deeply enjoying the beauty, nature and community.
“The moment I walked into the Co-op I loved the atmosphere and the wonderful variety of organic products. The Co-op is a community hub and I love being a part of it and doing whatever I can to help create a welcoming and friendly vibe for customers and co-workers.”
THEA BLOCK / Kitchen Supervisor
(See Board Bio)
CARLY MERSERAU / Bakery Supervisor
Carly followed her love of bread and butter to Paris where she trained and apprenticed as a pastry chef. She cut her teeth in the bakeries of Toronto, but has happily traded in the skyscrapers for the towering trees of Cortes.
“Working at the Co-op has offered me an opportunity to bake in a more down-home setting, fostering a great sense of connection to both food and community.”
SHEENA FAYOWSKI / Café Supervisor
Sheena was drawn to the island through her interest in learning how to interact respectfully with her natural environment. She loves spending time with the plants and animals in her life and is especially interested in making herbal medicines and other extractions.
“At the Co-op I enjoy working as part of a supportive team and engaging with local food systems. I like making good coffee for good people.”.
MEG MACDONALD / Store Buyer
(See Board Bio)