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Compost Co-Operative Among New Co-Ops Starting Up In Manitoba

One of Manitoba s newest cooperatives hits the road this week and is hoping to recruit new members as it demonstrates the services it offers.

The Compo-Stages Manitoba Services Co-op was expected to be out doing on-farm demos at St. Pierre, Marchand, La Broquerie, Notre Dame du Lourdes and Steinbach with its newly purchased windrow turner for turning manure to compost.

They are offering new members a composting service as well as consulting services, said Gerry Dub, a La Broquerie farmer, interim director and founding member of the co-op.

The co-operative model was chosen the best delivery mode for such a service, said Dub who offered custom composting services as a business himself several years ago until concluding a one-man company couldn t efficiently deliver the service.

The CMSC was incorporated in August and is supported by the Economic Development Council for Manitoba Bilingual Municipalities (CDEM).

A co-op is the best form of providing this service because it allows for larger input from the community, said Dub.

The CMSC is one of several emerging new co-operatives in Manitoba.

Water management

Another is the Bifrost Agricultural Sustainability Initiative Committee or BASIC, a venture working towards filing for incorporation as a co-op to be made comprised of farmer members from the Interlake municipality of Bifrost.

BASIC was organized to tackle the region s water woes, said Eric Fridfinnson, a local farmer and chair of its board.

Their excess moisture problems are the result of neglected drainage infrastructure, yet as critical as improved drainage is, farmers also recognize it s one of many matters their local council has to deal with, said Fridfinnson.

By forming a service co-op among them, local farmers saw how they could take a more organized approach as well as have greater ownership of the problem and the potential solution, he said, adding that the concept has widespread support among Bifrost farmers.

BASIC s aim is to provide planning and information resources to the RM while working cooperatively with surrounding RMs and all levels of government, he added.

Able to secure funding through Agri-Flex, a joint provincial federal program, they re now developing a comprehensive drainage map that will be used to take the whole process forward.

What we re trying to do is provide all levels of government with a very clear picture of what the water management needs are for farmers in the RM of Bifrost.

Ultimately, the goal of BASIC is a long-term solution that brings about restored agricultural productivity in the region, he added. What s driving this whole thing is trying to move toward economic recovery for the area.

Housing

Another co-op emerging on the Manitoba scene is the Western Manitoba Seniors Non-Profit Co-op in Brandon, a non-profit equity housing co-op working towards building a 34-unit

The new Compo-Stages Manitoba Services Co-op will be offering manure-turning services with a newly purchased windrow turner for farmers to better utilize agricultural waste as usable compost. The Backhus 17:50 model pictured above was expected to demonstrate the process on farms throughout southeastern Manitoba this week.photo: supplied

apartment offering several types of housing, from independent living to full-service care.

This co-op emerged from work done by another co-op, the Seniors for Seniors Co-operative, an advocacy group in the wheat city that s been increasingly concerned about low vacancy rates and rising costs of rent impact on seniors on fixed incomes.

The initiative is the result of a lot of co-op-inclined people getting together to meet a need by creating affordable housing at cost, said Harvey Douglas, the co-op s vice-president. They hope to begin construction on the facility next spring.

The three co-ops represent an emerging trend in co-op development in Manitoba.

I think we re seeing co-op development happening across sectors more so now than we were before, said Manitoba Co-operative Association (MCA) executive director Vera Goussaert, adding that until recently worker co-operatives were the predominant types of co-op getting started.

Housing, financial and retail co-operatives have been the predominant forms of co-ops in Manitoba, with many established quite some time ago, she added.

There s some new innovations happening, like with the composting co-op and more rural agricultural-based co-ops and we re seeing some interesting housing stuff happening too, which hasn t happened in a long time. There just seems to be a bit of momentum around co-ops generally.

The province of Manitoba also announced this spring plans to change the rules governing how co-op businesses are structured, allowing for the creation of multiple classes of membership, a move expected to spur further co-op development here.

October 17 -21 is Co-op Week

On October 31 the United Nations will also declare 2012 International Year of the Co-operative. The MCA is planning a kickoff in early January of local initiatives to help mark the IYC, Goussaert said.

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About the author

Reporter

Lorraine Stevenson

Lorraine Stevenson is a reporter and photographer for the Manitoba Co-operator with 25 years experience writing news and features. She was previously a reporter with the Farmers Independent Weekly and has also written for community newspapers in Winnipeg and Manitoba's Interlake.

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