Trust-supported Kootenay Farms Food Hub will enable producers to create new foods and drinks
Farmers around the Columbia Basin already produce delicious, healthy food. Soon, the local food sector will have a new way to expand its offerings thanks to the upcoming Kootenay Farms Food Hub. Located in Creston, this facility will provide space and equipment for producers from across the region to create a wide variety of value-added foods and drinks.
“People in the Basin have always been aware of the importance of local food security, and the pandemic has brought this issue even more to the forefront,” said Katie Kendall, Senior Manager of Special Initiatives at Columbia Basin Trust. “This facility will help increase the locally made food and beverage options available in the region, benefiting the people who live here, helping the region’s producers expand and creating local employment.”
The project is being led by the Fields Forward Society, with $150,000 in support from Columbia Basin Trust. The British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries is contributing up to $500,000 to purchase food-processing equipment and cover other start-up costs. The project is also supported by the Regional District of Central Kootenay and is the result of years of research and development encouraged and aided by the region’s agricultural community.
“We’re excited to provide a service that encourages collaboration and communication among food processors in the region,” said Elizabeth Quinn, Executive Director, Fields Forward Society, who will be speaking at the third annual Basin Food & Buyers Expo on April 9th. “This hub will enable processors to cut costs and scale up to service new markets.”
The facility will include equipment to process dry foods, such as dehydrators, blenders and mills, and equipment to process wet foods, such as kettles and pasteurizers. It will be built in Creston based on a 2019 Trust-funded study that found regional producers preferred this location.
The project addresses the Trust’s strategic priority to increase Basin residents’ access to healthy foods that are locally grown, produced and processed. Through collaborations, producers will be able to improve aspects like marketing, packaging, transportation and distribution. By making value-added products, they will be able to reduce waste by creating new items from foods that might otherwise have been discarded.
The Trust supports regional agriculture in a number of ways including through Basin Business Advisors, Kootenay & Boundary Farm Advisors, as well as supporting Young Agrarians and the Nutrition Coupon Program of the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets. Learn more at ourtrust.org/agriculture.