Every Friday from May until October there’s a hidden gem tucked away in the back of the First United Church in Waterloo. Bailey’s Local Foods. I found Bailey’s when I was searching for a CSA to get my veggies from this year. And I’m so glad I found it.
When I pulled around to the back of the church I was surprised by what I saw. Groups of people, both young and old, single and with their families, were walking in and out of the church doors carrying this week’s haul. To the right there was a small tent trailer surrounded by an abundance of seedlings. I walked through the glass doors, followed the hand written signs down the corridors and into the gym. The gym was lined with wooden tables, each with a sign denoting where the items were from. As you walk around the room gathering your pantry items, fruits & vegetables there are volunteers able to help you find anything you need, answer your questions or for a quick chat.
Headed up by Rachael Ward and Maryrose Ivanco, Bailey’s was started by Nina Bailey-Dick to bring local produce back into the community at a cost that is reasonable to both the farmers and consumers. As they’ve grown over the past few years, their offerings have grown from veggies and fruits, to include meats, oils, cheeses and yogurt. Every week they feed about 200 families in the region with their assortment of local goods.
Ordering is easy. Log onto www.baileyslocalfoods.ca, register and then pick from an assortment of goods that change week to week, depending on what the farmers have available. There is a $20 membership fee added to your first order, but the prices are comparable with those at grocery stores in the region. You can also have your order boxed for you, for a small packing fee (starting at $10 and it’s free if your order total is $200 or more).
A lot of people tend to shy away from local foods because the prices can be a bit higher, but if you create a meal plan for that week based on what foods are available, you can easily adapt to it without putting an extra dent in your wallet. you just need to be conscious of what is in your fridge and how quickly you need to use each item (a quick guide to produce storage can be found here) when you’re putting the plan together.
If you’re having trouble putting together a meal plan, you can easily find inspiration for your meals from any one of the many volunteers or one of the many customers wandering around from table to table. The customers and staff at Bailey’s are more than just like-minded individuals, they’re a support group who provide each other with new and different ideas for the foods they too are picking up. If you’re still struggling with the meal plan, or the cost or concept of local foods, stay tuned in the coming weeks – I will be posting examples of the meal plans I make every week and how I go about making them.