The Six Nations Farmers Association is looking to build a $5.6 million agricultural resource centre and supermarket on the territory, filling a long-time void for a local grocery store in the community.
The Six Nations Agricultural Resource Centre (SNARC) and supermarket would be centrally-located and sell locally-grown produce while promoting the agricultural industry on Six Nations.
The proposed centre would encourage agriculture in the community, provide technical support to farmers, and provide education and awareness to the commiunity on farming and agriculture.
The cente would also advance food sustainability on Six Nations and connect people with traditional Haudenosaunee gardening and agricultural processes.
Food sustainability is one of the key areas identified in the Six Nations Community Plan, and could provide economic benefits for the community, too, said Warren Sault, who presented the results of a farming centre feasibility study to Six Nations Elected Council’s Political Liaison Committee on Monday.
“Agriculture is a viable economic sector for Six Nations to be pursuing,” said Sault, project manager for First Nations Engineering Services Ltd.
The study notes that Six Nations people often travel off the reserve to buy groceries or pay a premium for those items at on-reserve convenience stores, spending an estimated $13,000 year per household on groceries. That translates to about $9 million a year for the whole community – money that could be kept inside the community, the study noted, with estimates of about $3 million a year in revenue from an on-reserve farmer’s market.
A 2010 economic leakage study showed that Six Nations members largely buy groceries throughout the week, instead of one big trip on weekends, and there is an increased demand for organic produce.
A local grocery store would capture 35 per cent of the on-reserve market for food purchases, the study suggested. The on-reserve market could also attract off-reserve shoppers already coming to Six Nations for gas and cigarettes, with about 16 per cent of revenue coming from off-reserve shoppers.
The Six Nations Agricultural Resource Centre would operate under a board of directors made up of community members.
SNARC will offer workshops and a community-run garden, while providing Six Nations farmers with a retail outlet for selling their produce and the community with healthy food buying options.
“It would be a major step toward food sustainability in the community,” said Sault.
The proposed building would be about 13,000 square feet located somewhere along the reserve’s main thoroughfare – Chiefswood Road – or just off Chiefswood Road along another major concession – Fourth Line Road.
It would cost about $500,000 a year to operate the centre.
“We need the support of everyone in our community to make this a reality,” said Six Nations farmer Jesse Porter. “How can we do this without ruffling up too many feathers? These are the things we’re going to be challenged with.”
Six Nations Elected Council accepted the report as information.