St Jamestown Community Co-op/OASIS Hub
A multi-faceted, diverse community co-op in downtown Toronto
St Jamestown Community Co-op is a social enterprise co-op established by a collective of residents in Toronto’s east-downtown core, with about 80 members. SJTCC brings together organizations and individuals who assist and support the development of projects and enterprises initiated for and by residents. SJTCC began out of a feasibility study done by the St Jamestown Cafe, a project started in 2011 to increase access to healthy food and support community based projects towards improving health and social inclusion.
One of SJTCC’s major projects is the creation of the time bank system. This system documents the value of members’ contributions and promotes the exchange of services among members using time credits earned by volunteering for the coop and related projects. This also provides services to other members of the co-op and the time bank. This model is a great way to record members’ contributions in alternative means such as their sweat equity and the amount of work they are able to put into their community, providing credits in exchange for their time which they can then use within the same system to take a class from others, to learn a new skill, or other bartered work.
Another project is their Organic Agricultural Sustainable Integrated System (OASIS) hub project in St Jamestown, run and owned by SJTCC. This OASIS community garden hub provides workshops on food security and community engagement, farm tours, hosts events to share healthy food, and provides a space for residents to learn from each other and grow food together. With grant support, they have begun a process of developing a re-purposed swimming pool to build a climate controlled agricultural greenhouse which will be able to provide upwards of 300 pounds of produce and 50 pounds of clean, healthy fish per month.
SJTCC became a LFFC member before they were officially a co-op. The synergies of our two organizations mesh well, and LFFC has encouraged SJTC to keep growing. Knowing and understanding that the food co-op sector is growing, it is important to have allies. SJTCC have gained lots of helpful insights and connections from their experience with LFFC.
SJTCC is a unique co-op in having such a flexible structure and diverse membership and neighbourhood base, and particularly having a structure that is based on human rights, they use the UN treaty framework to ground all of their policies and procedures.
Right now SJTCC is completing a city-funded feasibility studen for the OASIS food hub. They are also starting to activate a healthy food buying club, expand their gardening program to two gardens on church property which they will work with Indigenous allies to create. They need to raise more funds for a core staffing budget; working from a core group of volunteers on small contracts and summer jobs is exhausting. Even with their two big trustees of FoodShare and Scadding Court Community Centre to support their grant writing, they want to get more specific partnership agreements with allied organizations.