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March 10, 2021
Celebrating Women Entrepreneurs
As we celebrate the women in our industry, we also acknowledge their achievements and accolades. We are proud to see two DirectFood.store farm and vendor partners being featured in the Digital Technology Supercluster newsletter. The articles showcase these two women and their ambition to successfully startup businesses that have seen great success within the Greater Vancouver area. We are proud of their success and glad to feature them in this week’s blog. Read more on Jocelyn Sweeting from Ravens Brewing Company and Donna Lee from Bannock Queen.
Big expansion plans brewing for Jocelyn Sweeting
Jocelyn Sweeting celebrates her Indigenous heritage and promotes diversity and inclusiveness at Ravens Brewing Company, the Abbotsford business she started in 2014 with her husband Paul that’s affiliated with DirectFood.store, a Digital Technology Supercluster project.
The busy mother and entrepreneur grew up in Toronto and Kitchener/Waterloo. Jocelyn and her younger sister spent their early years in foster homes before being adopted by a couple of Dutch descent. Her biological father is Jamaican, and her biological mother is Ojibwe. Her adopted siblings are from Bangladesh.
“We grew up in a multicultural home with supportive parents who encouraged us to explore our roots,” Jocelyn says. “That’s how I came to better understand and appreciate my Indigenous background.”
Jocelyn moved west to study at Trinity Western University, met Paul and never looked back. When the duo started their business seven years ago, they were a small, family-operated brewery. Today, Jocelyn and Paul employ eight people in their tasting room, brewery and distillery. Last year, they produced 200,000 litres of beer – everything from a citrus pale ale to a dark stout.
This year, Jocelyn expects to increase production to 300,000 litres. Ravens Brewing is growing so fast they’re relocating this summer to the Stó:lō Nation on the east side of Abbotsford. They have also created an Indigenous Corporation and are partnering with Stó:lō Nation members to build a 12,000-square-foot facility, which will include a restaurant serving Indigenous recipes created and served by Indigenous community members.
In addition to 20 varieties of beer, they have branched into distilling gin and vodka. They take pride in creating beverages that are sourced from local and regional ingredients, such as hops, fruits and herbs from Abbotsford and grains from Peace River.
You can find Ravens beer in most liquor stores in B.C. and many outlets in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and New Brunswick. Fraser Valley and Lower Mainland residents can also order their products online at directfood.store.
Learn more about the DirectFood.store project here.
The Bannock Queen: a baking entrepreneur celebrates her Indigenous and Scottish roots
Five years ago, at the age of 62, Donna Lee contemplated retirement following successful careers in accounting and community healthcare. Rather than kick up her feet and retire fully, Donna opted to start a new venture that combines her passion for baking with her Indigenous and Scottish roots.
The result is Bannock Queen, a small business affiliated with DirectFood.store, a Digital Technology Supercluster project. Donna operates from her home in the Surrey neighbourhood of Cloverdale. Impressively, she singlehandedly bakes about 1,000 pieces of bannock every time she and her husband take part in a festival or market such as the Hastings Park Farmers’ Market in Vancouver.
“I start baking at about 11 p.m. and keep going until about 7 or 8 a.m., when my husband takes the bannock to the market and sells them from our Bannock Queen stall,” Donna says. “It’s important to me that our baked goods are as fresh as possible.”
Donna is proud of her original bannock recipe, which is free of sugar, dairy and yeast. In response to customer requests, the health-conscious baker has also come up with a gluten-free version and most of her creations are vegan. Her other tasty concoctions include bannock flat bread, strawberry jam and blueberry jam puffs.
Around the time she started her business, Donna explored her family history and discovered she had Irish, English and Scottish blood in addition to Indigenous ancestry dating back more than 200 years. Her Métis heritage began when a distant great-grandfather of Irish descent married a distant great-grandmother with Scottish and Cree roots. Together, they raised 15 children in Manitoba and learned to speak Cree and Ojibwe.
Donna and her husband share her family history with customers who want to learn more about the Bannock Queen and the story behind bannock. Scottish explorers and traders brought the bread to Canada in the 1700s, where Indigenous peoples in the west adopted and modified the recipe over the years.
While most of her sales are from markets, Donna is grateful for the online orders she receives regularly through DirectFood.store, a farm-to-table initiative based in Abbotsford involving partners such as Wisebox, i-Open Technologies and Novex Delivery Solutions.
Learn more about the DirectFood.store project here.