Dandelion Foods is the collective efforts of more than 50 individuals, consultants and businesses. In early 2013, individuals from the local Almonte community joined together with a common interest in local food sustainability, health eating and community education.
In early 2013, Dandelion Foods was incorporated with four founding members – Sharon Lazette, Michael McGarry, Farhat Sultana and Meghan Pettipas.
In 2019, the store expanded the phyiscial space from 3,500 to 4,500 square feet, increasing the bulk offerings, healthy and beayty section and more.
Farhat holds a doctoral degree from the University of Connecticut in Medical Anthropology where she studied socio-cultural influences on women’s economic and health status. She has worked with a number of international development agencies such as World Bank, WHO, UNICEF, UNHCR and CIDA in many countries focusing on the impact of development projects on women and children’s health and well-being.
She is co-founder of Agahi, a non-government organization working for the enhancement of quality education in the Northern district of Mansehra, Pakistan. Under the umbrella of Agahi, she established the Agahi teacher training center and trained teachers and parents to manage and operate their village schools.
Her diverse experiences in various cultures has provided her an insight into socio-cultural, economic and environmental factors affecting today’s food industry and people’s accessibility to healthy food choices and eating habits.
Today’s North American youth are suffering from widespread obesity, while the elderly population lack nutritious food. Money is not a major hurdle in obtaining health and well-being, lack of awareness is. That is the where an anthropologist can become valuable in generating a community interest in changing food and health. As an anthropologist, her role would be to establish a community outreach program for Mississippi Mills to advocate for healthy eating and living.
Four years ago, she and her husband decided to embark on a plan to simplify life, and set up a homestead to reconnect with nature.
Over the next two years, Meghan left her corporate job as communications manager for a sustainable energy producer, sold their house, bought six acres of woods outside Mississippi Mills, started construction of their post-and-beam strawbale home, and had their second son. In 2011, they moved into their home and Meghan has been busy raising their two amazing sons and lovely laying hens, and growing fresh vegetables.
Although a public health engineer by training, Mike has spent his entire working career in community development in developing countries. Mike works as a Senior Project Director for Cowater International Inc. His focus is on rural water supply projects in Pakistan, Lesotho, Angola and Afghanistan. His career has included working at international institutions such as the Asian Institute of Technology (Bangkok), the University of Sussex (UK), the International Development Research Centre, and Cowater International (which he founded with two other partners).
In the early 1990s, Mike left Canada to work full-time overseas in international development. After managing a series of projects in Sri Lanka, Burma, Nepal and Pakistan, he settled in rural Mansehra, a conservative district in Northern Pakistan with his wife, Farhat Sultana. There, they built a home next to a village and created a teacher training centre and seven much needed schools.
Politics and security became unhinged in Pakistan after 2001, so Mike and family (which now includes two wonderful teenage daughters) settled back in Canada where Mike rejoined Cowater. Being an entrepreneur and having created Cowater, his interest lies naturally in starting up the Dandelion Co-op as an avenue for community development, with a focus on health and well-being.
As a long-time advocate of sustainable living and health, Sharon has been involved in the alternative health industry for 20 years, both as a retail health food store employee and as a shopper. Starting a whole food co-operative in her adopted home community of Mississippi Mills brings together a lifelong desire to help inspire change through healthy living and eating, a love of natural medicine, and a respect for our dwindling world resources.
Sharon’s experience as an organic produce manager has enabled her to embrace organic agriculture on a local and global scale. Her experience working in a highly successful retail health food store has taught her to pull together a product mix that reflects the food values of a diverse and changing world. Choosing the right products to help clients achieve a healthy lifestyle, without compromising the health of the environment, has become her passion.
Morgan joined Dandelion Foods in 2016 as Supplements Assistant. She is a graduate of the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition in Ottawa, earning the designation, “Registered Holistic Nutritionist”.
She has a passion for helping customers learn, grow, and create a lifelong foundation of health and wellness.