BACK TO BUSINESS: Bush Order Provisions expanding from farmers market booth to brick-and-mortar store

Bush Order Provisions Ltd. will soon be the new bakery in town as the co-founding couple closes the deal on a commercial space in Yellowknife’s Kam Lake area. 

Yellowknifers will know Bush Order Provisions as the farmers market booth selling fresh breads, pizza dough and produce harvested from their market garden. Co-founders Kyle Thomas and Marie-Christine Auger announced Sunday on Facebook that a Bush Order storefront is underway – an upgrade they have been working towards for almost a year. 

Marie-Christine Auger and Kyle Thomas, co-founders of Bush Order Provisions are expanding operations to a commercial facility. Photo courtesy of Kyle Thomas.

Thomas said the goal of the expansion is “shortening food miles and encouraging more food being available locally.” 

The duo’s plan to acquire a commercial property preceded the pandemic, but Thomas said the challenges Covid has “only solidified” the importance of a market garden like Bush Order.

“You never know when our food supply might get cut off,” he said. “So we want to grow food and bake really high quality food here in Yellowknife.”

In their new facility, Bush Order plans to operate year round as a bakery and as a vendor for their produce following viable growing seasons. 

Though Thomas said they may get creative and create pizzas or other products that use up any produce that hasn’t sold, Bush Order will remain focused in producing and selling raw vegetables rather than becoming a restaurant. “We would love to supply restaurants,” Thomas said. 

As part of this weekend’s announcement, Thomas and Auger are also turning to the community to help support them and their growing business. They are hoping to raise $40,000 “to help with some of the unexpected costs.” 

“We’ve been working on the finances for 11 months to make sure that we’re being realistic,” Thomas said. “But there are always little hiccups in the road that we just don’t account for.”

He points to a property appraisal that they hadn’t accounted for and equipment that “isn’t quite” what they estimated, as examples of extra costs that “pop up.”

Thomas explained that he and Auger are scraping the bottom of the barrel on their personal savings so the fundraising helps to “get off the ground a little smoother,” he said. 

In return, Thomas and Auger are offering what they are calling Bush Order Perks.

Among the perks offered to Bush Order contributors, Thomas said he intends to open a bid to name his sourdough starters. Since the starters are a living culture of wild yeast and need to be fed to stay alive it is common to name them, though Thomas said people are often surprised to learn he never has. 

Other perks for supporters will include bread baking courses, Bush Order merchandise and pop up pizza parties. 

In return for supporting their growing business, Bush Order Provisions Ltd. is offering Bush Order Perks, which includes bread baking courses, pop-up pizza parties, the opportunity to name a sourdough starter, and Bush Order merchandise. Photo courtesy of Kyle Thomas.

As of Monday afternoon, only one day after launching, the fundraiser has amassed over $4,000. 

The couple is set to take possession of the new property later this month and hopes to have the facility up and running by spring. They are cautious, though, to commit to a timeline as they “have watched so many other startups in Yellowknife have unexpected delays that push them out.”

Thomas said that he and Auger want to put in the work to be around for “10, 20, 30 years from now.”

“This is a combination of both our passions and we want to make it a career as much as we want to make it about contributing to the community,” he said.

Both Thomas and Auger currently have day jobs on top of their entrepreneurial undertaking with Bush Order. Auger works with a non for profit in town and Thomas has his own consulting business in web development. 

While Auger’s educational background is in horticulture, Thomas began baking bread as a stress reliever after work. It started as “just something (he) could do with his hands,” and he became fascinated with the components that impact the product and the processes of fermented breads in particular. 

Since their plans for growth have been on paper for so long, Thomas said making the announcement has been “overwhelming” and “anxiety-inducing,” though the feedback has been positive.  

“For the years that we’ve been at the farmers market, it has been exceptionally well received, so this was just the next big step,” he said.

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