Why our directors love our Co-op

This month we asked our directors what makes them passionate about volunteering their time for the Kootenay Co-op. 


Wendy Wiebe is the current board president. Her love of the Co-op has grown over the years. In her words…

Wendy Wiebe, Board PresidentI joined the Co-op mainly out of convenience… it was the closest grocery store to my workplace! I didn’t know much about the organization, but I certainly knew the Co-op was the place to get the highest quality, healthiest food. And this was exactly what I needed when, in January 2017, I was diagnosed with oral cancer. I switched overnight, from conventional groceries to organic, and the Co-op suddenly became the centre of my grocery shopping as I started the long journey that required the prioritization of my health. 

I initially fell in love with the shopping experience of our Co-op, with high-quality, healthy foods and wellness products, friendly staff, and an overall beautiful store. As I have come to know this organization better, I realized the mission, vision and values truly embody the future I wish to see in our food systems, one where healthy products and local food systems are prioritized, where we provide a meaningful work environment for our staff, and where we view environmental stewardship as a personal and organizational responsibility. 

While the mission, vision and values all resonate with my personal values, my biggest passion lies with securing our food systems by prioritizing local food. I grew up on a poultry farm, I married a cattle farmer, and I am now developing a farm on 40 acres in Glade alongside my husband and two kids. I believe the most sustainable food systems require the development of local agriculture. I believe our community benefits from being connected to agriculture, living close to our food sources and seeing where and how our food is grown. Our Co-op plays a pivotal role in supporting local agriculture, and I am proud to be a part of this important work.


Maggie Jones has been involved with the Co-op since its early days. She’s a long-time director, has taught cooking classes, and has been involved in more ways than we can count. Here’s what she had to say:

The first reason that I joined the co-op is because it is an oasis of all foods, natural and organic. This was such a gift to us. Also, I see co-ops as being integral to a robust, local  food supply and as a committed force for the availability of natural, organic and healthy foods. Our co-op provides its members with beautiful organic produce, a great variety of bulk foods and a great selection of dairy choices. It also provides support for many local growers and manufacturers.

I love how integrated our co-op is into the Nelson Community: Employment, farmer support, education, access to good food, and support of folks at risk.

Our co-op has grown greatly, and sometimes I miss those days when we were a little grassroots co-op. But I love what we have grown into, and all of the opportunities we provide for the community around Nelson and in the outlying communities.

I am passionate about offering our staff fair, interesting and sustainable employment that provides a living for them and their families. I am passionate about our co-op as an alternative to mainstream, profit driven, heartless grocery stores.


Kay Coburn is new to the Co-op board, but not new to the store. Here is her story:

When our twins were just babies they began to show signs of having allergies. I refused to accept that they would live with creams and puffers to deal with symptoms for the rest of their lives, so I began to educate myself. That was the beginning of my interest in healthy, natural products. But my big love affair started in 1996, the first time I walked into the Kootenay Co-op. Our family was visiting Nelson from Ontario. I was blown away that a tiny place like this could support a natural food store bigger than any I had seen in any city in Ontario at the time. The existence of this store, and what it said about the citizens of Nelson that it could even exist, was one of the reasons we chose to move here.

I love that the Co-op has buying guidelines, that it cares so much about its staff, that it supports local organizations and local farmers. I love that  the staff and management work so hard to successfully maintain the Co-op’s mission. I admire how this organization works to adapt to changing times and conditions. That is no easy task when the goal is not profit alone.

Why am I passionate about the Kootenay Co-op?  Quite simply, the world the Co-op envisions, the world it is working to create, is a world I want to live in.


Cathy-Ann Glockner is another director who, like Maggie, has been around the Co-op for years. She has been a supplier and an employee, and once served as the employee director. When asked what she loves about the Co-op, she says:

Cathy-Ann Glockner, 2023I joined the Co-op immediately when Kelly and I moved here in 1989….it was actually one of the elements of Nelson that convinced us to move here. After growing up in Southern Alberta where we felt alone in our passions for whole food eating, organic farming, and environmental conservation, walking into the little thriving Kootenay Co-op was like an oasis!

I love that, in such a small and isolated community, we provide access to incredible food and wellness products as well as a wealth of education on things that matter to me.

I love how our community has shown up to support this ever growing and expanding amazing example of a Co-operative.

Lastly, I love that we are not afraid to dream and grow to meet the needs of our members and the greater community to promote and support agriculture and food sustainability in our region.  I know that’s alot of “love”…but hey, it’s the month for it, right?