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Student-Run Cafe Co-op Opens at Trent

Co-operation, innovation and vision are among the ingredients that went into the making of The Seasoned Spoon, a student-run café co-op that opened on Trent University's Symons Campus November 18.

Homemade soup and baked goods, prepared as often as possible with locally sourced organic ingredients, were going fast on opening day. Located in the Champlain College's Junior Common Room, The Seasoned Spoon was started by members of Trent's Food Issues Group, who saw a need for an alternative food source on campus, says Karine Rogers, a member of The Seasoned Spoon's Board of Directors. The café co-op evolved out of the Stone Soup Project, in which the same students made soup, and dolled it out in exchange for donations on campus twice a month.

Ms. Rogers said the Stone Soup Project was so successful, its organizers thought it might be viable to try something similar - long-term.

The not-for-profit Seasoned Spoon has 10 paid staff members, and will function as a co-operative. Individuals will purchase memberships and in turn, have the opportunity to play a role in directing the operations of the café.

The objective of The Seasoned Spoon is to offer organic food that has been locally sourced. In doing so, café staff will shop at local health food stores and the Farmer's Market and eventually work to develop long-term relationships with local farmers, Ms. Rogers explains.

"It's a means of supporting local agriculture," she adds. "One of the big goals for us is to not only have a food venue, but an educational opportunity within that."

One of the academic ties to The Seasoned Spoon will see a research project on local food sourcing, available to a student next semester. Professor Jennifer Clapp of the Environmental and Resources Studies department, is the faculty representative on the board of directors. She has been working on building the academic component of The Seasoned Spoon, which includes the supervision of the development of a series of reading courses and community-based research placements through the Trent Centre for Community-Based Education that students can undertake through work with The Seasoned Spoon. This gives students the opportunity to gain hands-on practical experience around food issues. This development of these academic options associated with the student cooperative is being funded by a small grant from the Trent Academic Innovation Fund.

The Seasoned Spoon, which received funding from a student levy, will be open four days a week, from Tuesday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Baked goods, coffee and tea are available in the morning, and lunch is served starting at noon. The menu is expected to expand this year to include a wide variety of hot lunches.

Posted November 24, 2003

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