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Tuesday, 17 September 2019

And We're Back! Store Website is Live!

For the past few months you may have seen the odd post on our Facebook Page or on Twitter and Instagram, or maybe you've seen our mention of Bunz.com

When we had to give up our weekly Pocket Markets, I was pretty heartbroken. I didn't have the opportunity to say goodbye to many of our long-time customers and the loss of community overall was devastating.

The termination of our partnership with St. Augustine was quick and unexpected, which together with the large theft from our DTES market location were huge blows. While we did get back the funds from the theft because of many generous community donors, we did end up losing the long-term income from the markets when we decided that they weren't logistically possible anymore.

For the next several months Green Zebra Markets sat in limbo. Until a friend of mine introduced me to the Barter and Trade platform, Bunz. I started listing our remaining market products for trade and found a much-needed new source of community. A new group of people that placed large value both on local products, and on investing in individuals and small businesses rather than large faceless corporations. Our products were very successful on that platform, and multiple community members started requesting additional products, as well as a new bulk buying method of delivery.

After several months with the backing of many incredibly supportive community members, we are taking the next step in our market evolution. Our market website is not only live again, but we are now able to accept online orders for group deliveries. And we've launched a new product - our weekly veggie box. Which means that my personal dream of incorporating my urban farming into Green Zebra's product line-up is finally coming true.

Everything is coming full circle and I'm now able to get back to the central dogma of why Green Zebra was founded in the first place - I believe that easy access to fresh, affordable, and culturally relevant food is a human right. Most individuals (myself included) may never be able to go off-grid from the capitalist system. But outside of a living wage, I don't believe that access to human rights should be for-profit. By continuing our existing partnerships with small local farms, and by beginning to grow and make more food myself directly, we will become closer to our goal to combat food insecurity in Vancouver.

We will always stick by our promise that the company as a whole will never be for profit. Any excess above our costs and living wages will be directed back into the community, where it belongs. My aim is that these changes will also make Green Zebra more sustainable long-term, and that we'll be able to grow to the point where we can start benefitting our more vulnerable community members in the near future: by providing them with reduced price rates for the food they and their families need to survive; and by providing reduced cost or free urban gardening workshops for folks with the ability and a little space to start growing food.

In addition, our partnership with Bunz will give community members, particularly low-income folks, a new way to make their food more affordable. People will now be able to pay for food from Green Zebra using BTZ, the virtual currency on Bunz (100BTZ = $1). They can gain this currency by trading household items they no longer need, and also by offering their own goods and services on the platform. In a time where job insecurity and rental prices are high, this community-minded platform gives them a new potential stream of income, and access to a community who supports and looks out for each other.

So where can you find us? We'll be delivering Veggie Boxes and other orders most upcoming Tuesdays at Mount Pleasant Community Centre from 7-7:30pm and at Commercial-Broadway from 7:45-8:15pm. We are working on a new pick-up location biweekly or monthly in the Westend on Saturday afternoons. And we can often be spotted at our urban farm site near 41st & Knight tending to our community vegetables.

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