Good eat­ing

Women sell nat­u­ral snack bars, oat­meal.

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - BUSINESS - BY MAU­REEN COUL­TER mau­reen.coul­terthe­guardian.pe.ca Twit­ter.com/Mau­reenEl­izaC

Two East Coast­ers have taken it upon them­selves to make health foods that stand out from their com­peti­tors.

Sheena Rus­sell and Kathy MacDon­ald make real food bars and in­stant oat­meal that are not just nu­tri­tious and de­li­cious, but are sourced from Mar­itime farm­ers and food pro­duc­ers.

Rus­sell, who is orig­i­nally from Fort Au­gus­tus, moved to Dart­mouth, N.S., five years ago and soon af­ter started Made With Lo­cal with her gym buddy, Kathy MacDon­ald.

The duo be­gan play­ing around with recipes for a bar that would nour­ish the body while tast­ing great for peo­ple on the go and for their fam­i­lies.

That was when they cre­ated their flag­ship prod­uct, Made with Lo­cal’s Real Food Bars, which con­tain “no weird stuff ” and the in­gre­di­ents can be traced back to its source. Their soft-baked­hand­made bars are all nat­u­ral with no added ar­ti­fi­cial sweet­en­ers or preser­va­tives.

“Just re­ally su­per sim­ple in­gre­di­ents,” said Rus­sell.

For many years, Rus­sell and MacDon­ald held full-time jobs while cook­ing their prod­ucts sev­eral evenings a week in a small recre­ational kitchen at a ca­noe club. They sold their prod­ucts at Farm­ers Mar­ket’s in Dart­mouth and Hal­i­fax and at some lo­cal cafes for sev­eral years be­fore things took off for the en­trepreneurs.

“It was mad­ness,” said Rus­sell.” That was the in­vest­ment pe­riod in terms of time and en­ergy.”

De­spite mak­ing very lit­tle profit in the be­gin­ning, they pushed on­ward know­ing they had a good, healthy prod­uct.

“The stuff we were do­ing didn’t feel like work be­cause we are su­per pas­sion­ate about it.”

Their hard work paid off in the end as Made With Lo­cal is now sold in var­i­ous parts of the coun­try, in­clud­ing Prince Ed­ward Is­land. Made With Lo­cal’s real food bars are sold at Freshii, Dy­namic Fit­ness, Raw­some Juice bar and Sa­muel’s Coffee House in Sum­mer­side. Their loaded oats in­stant oat­meal can be found at many Sobeys lo­ca­tions across the Is­land. They also do pri­vate la­bel bars for Farm Boy, a large gro­cery chain in On­tario.

Now that Rus­sell and MacDon­ald have fam­i­lies of their own, they have sourced their work to three lo­cal so­cial en­ter­prise pro­duc­tion fa­cil­i­ties with no “fancy dancy ma­chin­ery” in­volved, said Rus­sell.

One of those en­ter­prises is The Flower Cart, which is a vo­ca­tional ser­vice to those with in­tel­lec­tual dis­abil­i­ties in Nova Sco­tia.

Rus­sell de­scribes this as a game changer and a piv­otal move in the growth of the com­pany as it’s been a re­ally pow­er­ful ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing with th­ese en­ter­prises.

“This is the big (rea­son) why this busi­ness ex­ists and how we are go­ing to con­tinue to grow is this com­mit­ment to do our hand made pro­duc­tion at kitchens like the Flower Cart that em­ploys folks who oth­er­wise might not have a chance.”

In the next five years, Rus­sell hopes to build a model for oth­ers to im­ple­ment across the coun­try that puts em­pha­sis on us­ing lo­cal in­gre­di­ents and sourc­ing work at com­mu­nity so­cial en­ter­prises.

For more in­for­ma­tion visit www.made­with­lo­cal.com

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Kathy MacDon­ald, left, and Sheena Rus­sell, own­ers of Made with Lo­cal, sell all-nat­u­ral snack bars and in­stant oat­meal.

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