Wednesday, December 19, 2012

An Oasis of Good Food on 20th Street

As Saskatoon grew, the large supermarkets moved out to the suburbs, leaving older neighbourhoods, such as Riversdale, without a grocery store. For 13 years, local residents, who often didn’t own a car, didn’t have easy access to fresh fruit and vegetables.

Good Food Junction: Fresh Fruit and Vegetables 

That’s no longer the case. Good Food Junction opened in September 2012, and the first thing you see when you enter the store is a display of fresh fruit and vegetables.

It’s not a big grocery store, but it has an ample supply of local vegetables (carrots, potatoes, beets, cabbage from the Milden Hutterite Colony), fresh bread made by local youth at Three Sisters/Nestor’s Bakery, a dairy and a meat section, as well as a variety of dried goods.

“Gene Dupuis, the owner of Prairie Meats, is so community-minded – he’s done an awesome job,” says Ralph Winterhalt, the manager of the Good Food Junction. “He vacuum packs all our meat so that it will have a longer shelf life.”

Good Food Junction is very much a part of the local neighbourhood. They supply Root Down Workers’ Cooperative as well as a local day care and many other community organizations. Ralph also hires local residents as much as possible.

The Good Food Junction operates very much like any other local neighbourhood grocery store, but there is one significant difference. They do their best not to sell any addictive products, such as tobacco or lottery tickets.

Apart from this one restriction, customers are encouraged to fill in a request sheet at the tills or let Ralph know if they don’t see what they are looking for. “We’ve brought in products like feta cheese, unsweetened soy milk and gluten-free rice flour at customer’s request,” says Ralph. “We’ll try and meet every request, within reason as we only have limited space.”

Ralph used to own Ralph’s Confectionaries, and he built four out of five of the stores from the ground up, so he knows his way around establishing a business. He’s also a long-time supporter of Station 20 West. Starting out as a volunteer on the advisory board, Ralph went on to become the Business Development Manager for the Good Food Junction, Project Manager for Station 20 West, and now Manager of the Good Food Junction.


I hadn’t realized that there would be a restaurant at Station 20 West until I met Roman Goodheart, the chef and manager, at a Slow Food Saskatoon event, and he invited me to drop by and visit.

The CHEP Café offers healthy, affordable food that local people will enjoy eating. They hire entry-level workers, providing them with the training they will need to apply for work in the food industry.

As CHEP Good Food Inc.’s first social enterprise initiative, the café has a triple bottom line. Their success will be judged based on their social and environmental achievements as well as their economic success.

It’s a simple menu but tasty with fresh soup and sandwiches daily and a variety of salads, cookies and muffins.

We sampled the black bean and fresh veggie sandwich, and it was delicious.

The soups are packed with vegetables, and the baking is made with 50% whole wheat flour. Soup is $3.00 while wraps are $6.50 (Black Bean, Roasted Corn and Salsa or Fresh Veggie & Goat Cheese). Cookies are only $1.00.

Roman hopes that catering will eventually contribute 70% of sales in order to help cover the costs.

There are 22 seats in the restaurant which has large windows overlooking 20th Street. Artwork will be provided by the artists who participate in CHEP’s Art Auction.

Station 20 West has a zero waste policy, so the restaurant has recycling bins for cans, plastic, trash and organic waste.

“We’re using biodegradable products even though they’re more expensive,” explains Roman. “But we still don’t want them to end up in the landfill. We plan to shred them and add them to the garden compost.”

CHEP supports Saskatoon’s community gardens, and they just started a new one at Station 20 West last summer. Roman hopes that it will become a production-oriented garden so that he can use the fresh produce in the Café and teach kids how to garden.

Be sure to visit Saskatoon’s healthy food oasis on 20th Street. Enjoy a tasty lunch in the restaurant before picking up a few groceries in the Good Food Junction. You’ll be greeted with good food and smiles.

Photo Credit: Shelley Ballard McKinlay


supersu said...

wow! both great initiatives
who knew in SASKATOON!
su :)

Penny McKinlay said...

There are definitely good things happening in Saskatoon. I'm proud to be a resident.