How the girl holding the two-headed turnip built the Beet - St. Stephen’s own community service food store
When her doctor told Ande Mosher she had a tumor latched onto her spine, this farmer’s daughter received a rude dietary awakening. Although the tumor was removed successfully five years ago, her fleeting sense of mortality changed her life and community forever.
“I started getting really interested in exactly what was going into my body, and I had learned so much about what was going on with our food system that I didn’t want to eat what people called food anymore,” says Mosher. “We think that we have to get our food from other places – that we’re not big enough, or smart enough or good enough – but that’s just not true!”
Rather than return to her old career as a professional civil engineer, Mosher decided instead to use her management and construction skills – honed by years of building malls and Pizza huts – for another purpose.
With the help of nine of her region’s local farmers along with her eight brothers and sisters and 29 nieces and nephews, Mosher is the owner of St. Stephan’s CSA certified family food store and delivery service – the Beet.
“What we wanted to do was look like a veggie-store from the outside, but be even more than that on the inside,” says Mosher. “You’ll still be able to walk in and buy your products, but those products will come from here – as local as we can possibly get them.”
Always quick to joke, Mosher named her business after a photo of her four-year self, happily holding a two-headed turnip.
As a child, she had been so sure it was a beet.
“The whole business could have actually been named the Turnip,” she adds with a chime of laughter.
CSA’s or Community Service Agriculture means an agriculture business’ has pledged to adhere to a strict business ethic that prioritize community service and sustainable business practices above all else, even profit.
CSA certified businesses like the Beet aim to revert back from an ever-expanding international food industry to our traditional food model, where local communities support their local economies by purchasing locally grown produce.
This way, Mosher says the Beet avoids their competitors’ grandiose transportation costs, and passes those savings onto you the consumer and the farmer – the two main actors in a flourishing local economy.
“...because farmers are going to help us build a more sustainable future in our County. We’re pretty poor here and one of the things we need to do is to be able to take care of ourselves,” says Mosher.
Today, The Beet fulfills its CSA mandate using sustainable practices and community service programs, like their zero waste policy. This means they can’t throw away anything that could be used and made into another form of food. Their energy trade program allows underprivileged people in the community, who might otherwise use the food-bank, work part-time for their weekly groceries.
And that’s just the beginning, says Mosher with the mischievous giggle of a young girl holding a two-headed turnip -- utterly certain she’s going to change the world someday.
“In five years, we’re going to have a large place that might look like a Sobeys or Superstore from the outside, but on the inside it’s going to have a CSA certified kitchen, a soup kitchen area where people who don’t have lunch can have one, and even an area where we can show kids how to grow food. We’ll have an area where we can grow indoors, so we grow all year round.”
“By year 10, we’re going to be franchised!” she adds with excitement.
“There’ll be a Beet in every province, at least!”