The BC Food Hub Network is growing, creating opportunities for producers and food processors while connecting more British Columbians to local food.
The Province is investing up to $5.6 million to expand the BC Food Hub Network to Victoria, Bowser, Cowichan Valley, Abbotsford, Kamloops, Creston and the Kootenay-Boundary region.
“COVID-19 has created a number of challenges for small businesses and families wanting to find good, safe, local food,” said Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries. “With each new food hub, we’re giving more small- and medium-sized businesses room to grow, creating jobs and helping communities connect with local food. I’m proud of the work our government and our community partners are doing, and I’m excited to watch the BC Food Hub Network continue to grow.”
Food hubs offer small businesses access to facilities, equipment, research, innovation and business development services without requiring an extensive financial investment.
Eat Island Grown is a new small farm in North Saanich that was started by Ty James in April 2020. James farms leafy greens like spinach and arugula, as well as cherry tomatoes and peppers. He hopes to use the food hub in Victoria to produce value-added fruit and vegetable products like pesto and hot sauce to help grow his business.
“The Victoria Food Hub will make it possible for small agricultural producers like myself to develop and grow viable food businesses in the capital region,” James said. “In partnership with the Victoria Community Food Hub Society, we are excited to expand the Eat Island Grown brand this year, bringing new locally grown and processed products to retailers in our community. The Victoria food hub and the processing capacity it will offer brings an opportunity for new partnerships between farmers, processors and retailers to be established. These partnerships will support the expansion of local food production and be a great step towards developing a more food secure south Vancouver Island."
Each food hub is unique, created in collaboration with the community in which it is built. The food hub in Bowser will focus on seafood innovation, while Victoria, Cowichan Valley, Creston and Kamloops will work with local farmers and food processors to help grow their businesses.
The Kootenay-Boundary area food hub will consist of two locations, including Rock Creek and Greenwood. The Rock Creek location will focus on meat processing, while the location in Greenwood will include a bakery test kitchen and equipment for baking, packaging and labelling new or existing products.
Three food hubs are already operating in Vancouver, Surrey and Port Alberni, with additional hubs in Quesnel and Salmon Arm opening later this year.
“The Port Alberni food hub, branded as The Dock+, brings together local and regional food producers and their products, creating local jobs and providing an opportunity for producers and the community to work together,” said Shelley Chrest, chair of the board of directors, the Port Alberni Port Authority. “Through this partnership, we continue to grow and diversify the local economy, enhance food security supply chains and strengthen local and regional resiliency. I am happy to see these types of partnerships developing in other communities around the province and welcome them to the food hub network.”
Funding for the new food hubs joining the BC Food Hub Network is part of the province’s $10-billion COVID-19 response, which includes StrongerBC: BC’s Economic Recovery Plan that protects people’s health and livelihoods while supporting businesses and communities.
The BC Food Hub Network is part of the Province’s Feed BC initiative, increasing the use of B.C. food and bringing more opportunities to all aspects of B.C.’s food system. Feed BC is a priority for the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries, which is committed to encouraging more agriculture and seafood production, and food and beverage processing in British Columbia.
- B.C.’s food and beverage processors produce over $10 billion worth of value-added products each year.
- The BC Food Hub Network supports the establishment of a network of regional shared food processing and innovation hubs. The hubs increase value-added processing opportunities for producers and processors and advance innovation in B.C.’s food and beverage processing sector.
- With the addition of the seven new food hubs, the food hub network includes 12 food hubs around the province.
StrongerBC: BC’s Economic Recovery Plan: https://strongerbc.gov.bc.ca/
Commissary Connect: https://commissaryconnect.com/bc-regional-food-hub/
Plenty and Grace: http://plentyandgrace.ca/
The Dock+: thedockplus.ca