Business Profile: Jeff Schnurr, Founder, Community Forests International

Community Forests International started in 2008, with the goal of helping rural communities in Tanzania plant trees. Since then they have continued our international work, as well as extending environmental, farming and forestry education here in Atlantic Canada. In Sackville, the non-profit currently has a team of seven employees. Visit them on Facebook here.

Why did you choose to start your business in Sackville?

We decided to locate our organization in Sackville after a brief stint in Montreal. Sackville made sense for us — it’s amazing people and a great pace of life allowed our organization to focus on tough global challenges. The community got behind our work and supported us in the early years. Our first grants for projects here in Canada came from Renaissance Sackville.

What surprised or surprises you about running a business in Sackville?

How much support we receive from the local community. It’s really amazing to be able build such an amazing professional network in such a small town. Sackville also really promotes outside of the box thinking – in such a tight knit community one is constantly exposed to ideas from other sectors, arts and culture, small business and academia. All these unique perspectives fuel our work by providing insight not often applied to our line of work.

What does a typical day at work look like for you?

I live and work out of the same building, a heritage school house in Middle Sackville. Weekdays are usually spent out on School Lane, with a trip into town for coffee at the Black Duck, or some social time at Thunder and Lightening. In the winter there is a great network of cross country ski trails and the summer is great for hiking and gardening. I do my shopping on Saturdays at the farmers market.

How do you see your business growing or changing over the next five years?

Five to ten years ago it would have been difficult to run an international organization on the marsh in Sackville, New Brunswick, but the world has changed so much. Now it’s very easy to collaborate international, to truly think globally. We don’t know what the next five years will bring, we just know we want to be a part of the change. I truly believe that rural communities are uniquely positioned to help solve environmental challenges, such as climate change.

What’s your favourite place to eat or explore in Sackville and why?

There is a culinary renaissance in the works right now in Sackville. Napul’è Pizza has authentic Neapolitan, wood-fired pizza that I’m pretty into these days. Mel’s Tearoom offers some of Atlantic Canada’s best nostalgic dinner fare. Cranewood on Main has some of the best gluten free bread I’ve ever had and offers soups and sandwiches for a quick lunch.

What advice would you give someone who is thinking about moving to Sackville?

Sackville is an incredible town for a community of its size, a great and affordable place to launch a big idea. Take advantage of all the resources available to you here and you’ll be sure to succeed.