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Kathy MacDonald, left, and Sheena Russell, owners of Made with Local, sell all-natural snack bars and instant oatmeal sourced from Maritime farmers and food producers.
Sheena Russell's childhood inspired flavours in her premium food products
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-baked-handmade 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.
"Something that I think would be really awesome for us is to be able to carve out a new way of making yummy really good for you premium foods."
For more information visit www.madewithlocal.com