British Columbian residents will be growing more local food in 2017 as projects in 10 B.C. communities are helping residents get ready to farm and garden.
The B.C. Government’s Grow Local program is funding projects in communities from Vancouver Island to the Kootenays, and Vancouver to Smithers, including one in Kelowna, in which the Central Okanagan Community Farms Society have received $25,000 to begin their “50,000 Pounds – 50,000 Smiles” project.
The project intends to grow 25,000 pounds of produce per year, for two years, for the social service agencies of the Central Okanagan through a community farm, and the training of five to 12 farmers of small-lot incubator farms. Participants who work in the gardens will be educated through hands-on instruction at community farms, through field days and seminars, participation at fairs and public events, and through social media.
The project will offer the Society’s volunteers many of whom are avid gardeners the opportunity to explore growing food on a larger scale, and as a profession, without having to commit to substantial capital costs. The Society is also partnering with Kelowna area community organizations to share the project’s harvests, including the Lake Country Food Assistance Society, and the Central Okanagan Food Bank.
The $250,000 Grow Local program is funding projects in 10 B.C. communities. The projects are designed to:
- involve residents in growing local fruit and vegetables;
- increase awareness and appreciation for supporting local food production; and
- strengthen local food supply security.
The 10 projects include the developing resources on how to grow local food, group education and awareness activities, such as workshops, mini-courses, and “how-to” demonstrations, and one-on-one consultation and advice. The application process was administered by the Investment Agriculture Foundation of BC.
The BC Agrifoods and Seafood Strategic Growth Plan identifies the next steps in the B.C. government’s goal to grow the B.C. agrifoods industry to a $15-billion-dollar-a-year sector by 2020. Grow Local BC will assist in maintaining food supply security, a challenge identified in the strategic growth plan.
Premier Christy Clark, MLA for Westside-Kelowna –
“One of the many reasons we are so fortunate to call the Okanagan home is the produce. These new growers mean more people enjoying fresh vegetables – and more smiles on faces.”
Norm Letnick, Minister of Agriculture –
“The Grow Local program will further strengthen the value of the local agricultural sector among British Columbians. This pilot project will create a better understanding of how food crops are produced in our province and assist people in learning how best to grow their own food.”
Steve Thomson, MLA for Kelowna-Mission –
“In addition to being nutritious and great tasting, local food products help support the community in which they are grown. This project is a great example of local food growers involving and supporting members of our community.”
Bob McCoubrey, chair, Central Okanagan Community Farm Society –
“This grant will allow us to expand our efforts to grow food for social service agencies in the Central Okanagan and beyond, using volunteers who will learn new skills from seasoned growers; and to expand the incubator farm program, where new farmers are given an opportunity to try farming on small plots using shared equipment and receiving advice from experienced farmers.”
Joy Haxton, Lake Country Food Assistance Society –
“Our Clients are very grateful for the fresh, organic produce that Central Okanagan Community Farms donates, the Lake Country Food Bank is extremely fortunate to have partnered with COCF.”
Central Okanagan Community Farm Society: https://www.facebook.com/grow.feed.teach
Lake Country Food Assistance Society: https://www.facebook.com/lakecountryfoodbank/timeline
News release announcing Grow Local: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2016AGRI0058-001860
Program background: http://iafbc.ca/funding-opportunities/grow-local/
A backgrounder follows.