Meet Our Changemakers: West Side Farmers Co-op

Name: Mohamed Almoayad
Faculty: FAHSS
Company Name: West Side Farmers Co-op

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself. 
I studied both political science and philosophy, and am currently working on finishing my philosophy program. I’ve spent a lot of my time in university as a social activist and community organizer, and I’ve been mostly focused on how poorer communities can organize to get more economic control over their neighbourhoods, especially Sandwich Town.

2. Tell us about your company
The West Side Farmers Co-op is combining multiple urban farming techniques in order to grow food locally in an exciting and efficient way. We are creating vertical farming units entirely out of repurposed materials and setting them up in the heart of Sandwich Town where they will start producing enough organic, high-quality fruits and vegetables for us to sell at competitive prices. As a co-op, control over how and what we grow will be democratically decided by all the members/workers, which as of now is only a few of us but will hopefully be a lot more in the future.

3. Why do you feel the Libro-EPIC Social Enterprise program will be beneficial to growing your company?
The financial support is crucial and something we could not get anywhere else this early in our development, as well as the many networking opportunities. We are also getting lots of very valuable information and feedback on all aspects of building social enterprises, so we’re much more confident in all the initial steps we are taking and constantly have a lot of support behind us.

4. Why do you feel it’s important to have a company like yours in our community?
Sandwich Town is one of the only food deserts in Windsor, meaning there are actually no remaining grocery stores in it and most residents don’t have any grocery store that is within walking distance. It’s also the poorest part of Windsor, and studies show lower-income communities suffer the most from a lack of fruits and vegetables because of the lack of convenience and/or affordability. We eventually also hope to empower residents with the ability to productively use any land they have access to for food production, including their own backyards. And as a co-op, it would be an example of how groups of people with limited resources can work together to collectively get control over a key aspect of their local economy.

5. Where do you hope to see yourself and your company by the end of this program?
After the four months are over, we hope to have fully developed an infrastructure for growing a lot of food in Sandwich Town, have launched a marketing campaign to communicate our values/ideas with the local community, and also developed a network of partners and consumers interested in supporting our vision. We won’t be able to start growing and harvesting until the end of Winter, so we’re focused on building the foundation for most effectively producing and selling fruits and vegetables as soon as possible.

We are working on finalizing a logo, and when we do we’ll have a very active Instagram, Facebook and website documenting our progress in developing our farming techniques. Stay Tuned!