It began as two separate endeavours operating in the same city. Two people looking for something more, feeling the pull to create something new. Two people newly untethered, wondering where to put down some new roots.
It is always lovely to hear that a small business with big ideas has an equally small story that started the whole big thing. Ours is one of those stories. Cassandra and Lisa met in the late spring of 2010. Having spent a few years learning about the raw food movement, Lisa frequented many popular vegan restaurants, enjoying healthy, plant-based meals while healing from health issues. Cassandra, simultaneously experiencing challenges of her own, had finished her Masters degree at OISE and was an independent fine artist, with paintings on display in local restaurants. While dining out one afternoon, Lisa saw a piece that she was immediately drawn to and the rest (as they say!) is history.
Connecting first over the painting (which Cassandra sold to Lisa!) and then later over a mutual love of farmers’ markets and local food, Cassandra and Lisa envisioned a business that could bring the seasonality of Ontario’s food supply more in line with the currently available plant-based prepared foods. Without knowing each other for long (memory fades, but it is somewhere around 3 weeks or so), the two jumped at the chance to establish their company. After various incantations during its infancy, the business officially became Earth + City in early 2011.
While initially setting up a strictly raw operation, the business gradually forayed into cooked foods - still vegan - making room for a wide variety of preparation techniques and ingredient combinations. After applying to Wychwood Barns in the fall of 2010 without so much as an actual operating name (we are forever grateful to one Cookie Roscoe for taking a chance on a couple of kids!), we quickly established ourselves as an exciting new vendor on the local market scene.
Additional markets followed in the years to come as Earth + City became a sought after prepared food vendor. Operating on the ethos that plant-based prepared foods could be regionally sourced, seasonally inspired, and deliciously healthy, Earth + City brought much added value to the farmers’ markets around Toronto. From Wychwood, we joined the rosters of the WEFC Sorauren Market, the Dufferin Grove Organic Market, and East Ends pride and joy, the Leslieville Farmers’ Market. In the years that followed, we participated in several AppleTree markets, the Brickworks Farmers’ Market (starting on Sundays and then moving onto Saturdays vendor list where you can still find us during the outdoor season), Cabbagetown Farmers’ Market, and Withrow Farmers’ Market.
As the market list grew, so too did the opportunities for the wholesale of many popular Earth + City items. The Coconut Macaroons and Cowgirl Cookies developed committed followings and the demand for these products outside of the market scene grew. The advent of the snack-with-a-story, the Juice Pulp Crackers, in partnership with Village Juicery, opened new channels for sharing our creations with the wider Toronto community. Check out our Visit Us page for more information on our up-to-date market venues and wholesale locations.
While our sales avenues expanded over time, our staff grew in tandem. From the days of a two-person operation (which saw Cassandra and Lisa purchasing, preparing, selling, growing, and developing everything on their own), Earth + City has a robust staff that varies in number throughout the season. At the height of the summer season, Earth + City often has around 15 employees working in various capacities. It’s a strong team with a deep dedication to the big dreams of a small business. It may have all started with Cassandra and Lisa taking a chance on an idea, but it continues due to the drive and commitment of the many key players.
And so, with paintings and produce, a business was born. From 2010 to 2019, we’ve come a long way. As always, there is still so much room for growth and development. Stay along for the ride with us as we see where we go next!
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Did you know that one of your favourite Earth and City products is a collaboration with another awesome Toronto-based small business? That’s right...our crackers contain leftover nutrient-rich juice pulp from Village Juicery’s cold-pressed juices.