Unearthing Canadian-made products

Unearthing Canadian-made products

When you go to plant your flowers, herbs, fruits and vegetables this year, you may have a few million wiggly friends to thank.

“Mixing worm castings (manure) with soil comes up with a nice, natural potting soil,” said Staven Bender, President of Altwin Distributors.

Bender’s company produces the Pots and Plants brand of soils and mixes sold at Co-op Home Centres. The castings from Red Wigglers are unique and have the ability to provide nutrients for all plants as part of a potting soil mix.

“We use dark, rich peat moss,” Bender explained. “We’re in a niche having more enriched soils without the use of (chemical) fertilizers. We’ve never added fertilizers to our soil.”

Bender added the natural and organic ingredients are heat and steam treated to get rid of any potential bugs, disease or weed seeds, which isn’t common in the industry either.

Local Products – Canadian Made

Based in Medicine Hat, Alta., Altwin manufactures a variety of potting soils, compost and landscaping rock products. An estimated 95 per cent of materials are sourced locally, primarily in central and northern Alberta.

“The most important thing people look for is a product that is produced in Canada,” Bender said. “People keep coming back to stores to purchase products they trust. We stand behind our products and make sure the customer’s happy.”

Co-op will help customers find local products like Plants and Pots by labelling them as Canadian Made on store shelves and in the Co-op Home Centre flyer. Sourcing local products highlights Co-op’s values and is a sustainability initiative that supports Canada’s local economies.

Investing locally

Sourcing local products also demonstrates Co-op’s commitment to invest locally.

“One of the biggest parts of our success is Co-op,” said Bender. “We’ve been dealing with Co-op for 28 years and we want to make sure they succeed because I know they want us to succeed.”

Altwin Distributors has grown significantly – nearly 60 times in product volume –since Bender’s parents bought the business in 1989. They have grown from just the three – Bender and his parents – to 25 employees producing 39 million litres of soil last year, enough to fill 15 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

Despite being labour-intensive work, Bender said he’s proud to take a base material and manufacture it into a quality product for people here in Western Canada.

Watch for Canadian Made products like Pots and Plants available at your local Co-op Home Centre.

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