This past Thursday I attended the grand (re) opening of Karma Marketplace here in Penetang celebrating the stores move to a new downtown location.
I learned about Karma Marketplace only a few months ago when I began my search for local food and a way to become involved in promoting the area I live in and the incredible number of farmers and food producers that reside here. When I reached out to Simcoe County Farm Fresh for help in my mission they immediately referred me to Karma Marketplace and owner Erin Chappelle.
In the few months that I've known Erin I've seen the energy she brings to her store and to so many community projects that Erin is integrally involved in. She has really inspired me and I am excited about working on projects together in the near future.
In Erin's mind Karma Marketplace is a symbol of the community at large and should serve as a place for the community to support and strengthen itself through buying local and with consumer integrity.
Two years ago Erin Chappelle began Karma Marketplace in a cozy storefront location in down Penetang. Over the past two years, the store, its stock, its customer base and its purpose int he community has grown to such an extent that Erin felt the time was right to make the move to a larger, more accommodating space.
Erin originally envisioned Karma as a showcase for what she calls "Fair Trade Art" made by artisans, and friends, in El Salvador as well as local artists. While there is no legal "Fair Trade" certification for artwork or crafts (as there is for coffee or tea) Erin and her featured artisans cooperate in the spirit of Fair Trade with no middlemen or markups. It seemed a natural extension of her vision for the store to begin stocking Fair Trade coffees and teas as well.
More recently the scope of the store grew again to include an inventory of local, organic meats, local produce and prepared foods made by local chefs.
As the store's product range expanded the vision for Karma Marketplace grew as well. This included a weekly karma tei kei box filled with available local produce and edible treats for puchase and a dream to see Karma Marketplace as a catalyst for community involvement and local change.keep reading
Thursday night was the celebration of what has already been accomplished and what future accomplishments the newer, larger space will facilitate.
After a chance for both long time and new customers to survey the new location, a space that while much larger than the old one, still maintains the same feeling of cozy, relaxed friendliness. There was also an opportunity to sample some of the store's goods from the local purveyors, including meat pies and tourtieres from Josh Belanger of Belanger's Organic Farm and Belly Ice Cream by Shelley Westgarth and art by local artist
Then Erin spoke to the assembled group about her vision for Karma Marketplace, reiterating the store's philosophy "You get what you give because what goes around comes around" and the belief that change in the world at large can begin by choosing to support the community you live in.
Representatives from Simcoe County Farm Fresh and Fair Trade Barrie were also given the opportunity to explain their unique perspectives on what Karma Marketplace has to offer and how the Karma perspective strengthens both local and global economies.
Karma Marketplace then took one more step to fulfilling the goal of community transformation. The eco-space (a large space connected to the storefront that will be left open for groups and events as needed) played host to the its first community event, the inaugural meeting for Transition Town: Huronia.
Now, Transition Town deserves a post (or multiple) of its own. I will just say here that the movement is a well recognized attempt to plan for the advent of peak oil prices.
The night was an amazing success and really strengthened the belief that it is possible to change yourself, your community and your world if you just keep in mind that "you get what you give because what goes around comes around."
How many of you know of a local food box program in your area?
Are any of you involved in Transition Town initiatives?
What movements are gaining momentum where you live?