Story by Brianna Bell

Photography by Daniel Bell


Emma Cubitt, Founder

“So, have you been here since the beginning of The Mustard Seed?” I ask Emma Cubitt, while we stand in the back of the unassuming kitchen in Hamilton’s popular co-op grocery store.

“Actually, I’m the Founder,” she answers softly.

She continues to slice apples for the apple crisp recipe that we are working on, and I take a moment to apologize for my blunder. The founder of The Mustard Seed Co-op is humble, and we continue talking while she works on thinly slicing the apples.


It’s a perfect March day for some warm, fresh out of the oven apple crisp. There’s a blanket of pretty white snow outside, while inside the grocery co-op patrons walk through the aisles, warming up with a cup of The Mustard Seed’s popular self-serve coffee.

DSC_0347 (2)

Emma and I continue to talk, and find that we have a lot of common ground. We discover that both of our husbands attended the same tiny private college, and we have connections to some mutual acquaintances.

I learn that Emma is an architect at a popular Hamilton firm, and that she founded The Mustard Seed Co-op five years ago. She remains on The Board of Directors, where she has dedicated many volunteer hours throughout the Co-op’s various stages of development.


The recipe was found on Inspired Taste and adapted by Emma, who used local apples.

Ontario Winter Bounty Apple Crisp

Makes 10 Servings

{Apple Filling Ingredients}

10 local apples thinly sliced (Emma used Gala & Crispin)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons local maple syrup

1/2 cup organic apple cider (or water)

{Topping Ingredients}

3/4 cup all-purpose Ontario flour

3/4 cup rolled oats (Emma used Oak Manor large flake)

1/4 cup brown sugar + 1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup butter, melted

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt


  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees, and butter a large baking dish.
  2. Prepare apple crisp filling. Cut apples into thin slices, add apples to a large bowl with apple cider, maple syrup, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Stir the ingredients and add to the greased baking dish with apples lying flat.
  3. Make the crumble topping. Combine flour, oats, both sugars and salt into a medium bowl. Add the melted butter and stir until all the flour has been moistened by the butter and the topping is crumbly. Sprinkle over the apple filling.
  4. Bake for one hour or until juices are thickened, the apples are tender, and the topping has turned light golden brown.

    You can find out more about The Mustard Seed Co-op by clicking here
Brianna Bell is a Guelph-based writer, where she lives with her husband and two children. You can find her work in The Globe & Mail, the Guelph Mercury, GuelphToday and Chicken Soup for the Soul. She enjoys writing about alternative lifestyles and meeting people who are making an impact in their community. You can connect with Brianna through e-mail at
Daniel Bell is a Guelph-based freelance photographer who enjoys the outdoors, spending time with family, and reading.