Real Food and Social Enterprise: A Local Entrepreneur’s Recipe for Standing Out

Established in 2012 as a farmer's market stall, the company now has their Real Food Bars and Loaded Oats instant oatmeal available at over 100 retailers in Atlantic Canada.

Great things come from small beginnings, and this is especially true for Made with Local, a healthy foods company based out of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, co-founded by Newfoundlander Kathy MacDonald.

Established in 2012 as a farmer’s market stall, the company now has their Real Food Bars and Loaded Oats instant oatmeal available at over 100 retailers in Atlantic Canada. With the goal of locally sourcing as many ingredients as possible, the company has created a platform for many small, family-run farms and food producers in the region.

“From the beginning, our goal was to source as much locally as possible,” says co-owner Kathy MacDonald, who lists Nutsmith Nutbutters, Just Us! chocolate, and Crosby’s Molasses as suppliers of Made with Local. “We’ve stayed true to that, even as we’ve went from hundreds to tens of thousands of bars a month.”

Once MacDonald and business partner Sheena Russell started growing their families and stopped hand-baking the bars, the decision was made to do all of their production in partnership with social enterprises. “We work with organizations who help folks re-integrate into the mainstream workforce due to a disability or after falling on hard times,” says MacDonald.

Since their partnership with local social enterprises, Made with Local has been able to essentially double production at their bakery and oatmeal production facility. Meanwhile, their partner organizations (The Flowercart and The Prescott Group) have been able to continue to offer more vocational training, personal development programs and employment opportunities for their clients, many of whom are adults with intellectual disabilities.

Distribution has grown in step with everything else. “In Nova Scotia, we started with going to farmers markets every single Saturday in Halifax and Dartmouth. Then, through word-of-mouth mostly, we started hearing from independent shops, like cafes and small health food stores.”

The Natural Health Shop (16 Stavanger Drive) was the first independent retailer in the St. John’s region to take them on. “We’d love to get more of these shops on board,” says MacDonald. “There’s such a wealth of amazing little local shops and cafes in downtown St. John’s, and beyond!”

Since then, Made with Local landed a distribution deal with Sobeys, so their Loaded Oats and Real Food Bars are now available for purchase in local grocery stores, including the Sobeys on Merrymeeting, Howley Estates, and Kelsey Drive.

“Sobeys has been amazing, and has provided us with the perfect way to branch into Newfoundland on a larger scale,” says MacDonald. “We will continue to get product into the different Sobeys locations throughout the province. We’ve been so happy with Sobeys’ continued support of local, socially-conscious businesses like ours, and we want to keep building on what has been a great partnership so far.”

For folks outside the St. John’s region, Made with Local’s online store will continue to offer their full slate of products, with shipping to Newfoundland & Labrador.

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