Homemade granola mix a recipe for change

Ethan Odlozinski’s granola is a high-fibre treat with a higher purpose.

For the past two years, the Grade 10 Orillia Secondary School student has assembled and baked batch after batch of the nutritious mix in his family’ kitchen, before packaging and selling the finished product.

After covering his costs, Odlozinski squirrels away the profits to fund an upcoming three-week trip to Kenya in August that promises to prove rewarding for the local youth.

“I want to make a change,” he told Simcoe.com during an interview at his home.

Travelling to the Maasai Mara region, he and 30 other Canadian and international youth will work with local residents to build a school or well.

“In the mornings I’ll be going to the work site and building, so laying down bricks and doing heavy lifting and mixing cement,” he said. “Later in the afternoon we’ll be doing some leadership activities and team-building activities and learning about social change.”

In between work, Odlozinski will explore the local culture and language, spend time with children and visit patients at a nearby hospital.

“I’ve been on trips before, but I’ve never done a volunteer work trip,” he added.

It was Odlozinski’s older brother, Jonah, who started the granola business while fundraising for a trip to Kenya in 2015.

Inspired by his sibling, Odlozinski took over the business two years ago while retaining his brother’s name on the packaging – hence Jonah’s Granola.

“Each batch usually makes about four bags,” he said. “From start to finish, it probably takes about one hour of work.”

He starts by toasting the nuts and seeds, which are naturally sweetened with agave nectar, before popping the mix into the oven.

Cranberries are added before the finished product is packaged in clear bags.

“We modified the recipe to make it more cost efficient,” he said, adding his entry into the business world has proved a learning experience.

“You have to keep track of your profits and make it and distribute it and everything like that.”

Odlozinski sells his granola at Mariposa Market and the Orillia Farmers Market, as well as securing the occasional private sale.

“I’ve made, roughly 1,200 bags,” he said, offering a quick estimate.

A typical day at the farmers market will alone see him part with 50 to 60 bags.

“I set up my tent and my table and just sell it out of there,” he said, pointing to area craft shows as another popular outlet for his homemade mix.

Pricing is key to ensure “that someone will want to buy it, but then you are also making some money off of your sales,” he added.

Odlozinski must cover the cost of travel and accommodations to Kenya – about $5,500 – as well as other expenses related to the trip.

Currently, he is within $1,000 of his goal.

Bags of granola are priced at $7 each or two for $12.

The upcoming trip is organized by Me to We, which works with the Canadian charity Free the Children to eliminate the cycle of poverty.