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New food hub to strengthen food security in Rock Creek

The Saffron Guild, owned by Susan Charnell since 2018, is one local business looking forward to using the new food hub. — Screenshot photo

Food and beverage producers will soon have more opportunities to grow their businesses while increasing food security in the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary with the development of a new food hub with locations in Rock Creek and Greenwood.

"B.C. food hubs create new opportunities for small- and medium-sized businesses and strengthen food security, so British Columbians can rely on locally grown and processed food now and for generations to come," said Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries.

"Our BC Food Hub network is a wonderful example of innovation at a local level, creating jobs and supporting farming, skills training and community building in the regions they operate."

The B.C. government is investing up to $750,000 to purchase food-processing equipment and cover other startup costs in partnership with the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary and the Boundary Community Ventures Association. The hubs will help small- and medium-scaled businesses access shared food and beverage processing space and equipment to increase their production and sales.

"Agricultural producers and processors in the Boundary work hard to make food for all of us," said Roly Russell, MLA for Boundary-Similkameen.

"I'm grateful for the work that local governments, community organizations and local residents have done to increase access to local food, and I'm pleased the Province is a partner in making that happen.

“With the development of the new Boundary Food Hub, farmers and food processors in the Boundary and South Okanagan will have improved access to tools like community kitchens and supports, which means more opportunity for local food for everyone and an environment that will help local food businesses grow."

Diane Langman, chair of the board of directors, Regional District of Kootenay Boundary, said funding for the Kootenay Boundary Food Processing and Innovation Hub will allow our local food producers and food-related businesses to meet the challenges of increasing costs and a need for value-added processing facilities within a short drive of farms and ranches.

“Our residents want more options for healthy, locally sourced food and drink, and we all want a more secure food system tied to our economic growth and well-being in the district,” Langman said.

“I am thankful for this program and look forward to seeing more agricultural and food-based businesses thrive in our region."

One of the local businesses looking forward to using the new food hub's Greenwood location is The Saffron Guild, owned by Susan Charnell since 2018.

The guild produces artisanal hand-painted confections and fine art for the Okanagan winery market. While the COVID-19 pandemic caused the guild to halt the baking side of the business, the new food hub will allow it to restart the baking operation and expand to a broader market.

"The Food Hub will make it possible for The Saffron Guild to grow beyond the Okanagan winery region, getting our artisanal confections out to a much broader commercial market," Charnell said.

 "While COVID-19 constraints have hampered in-person local sales, the food hub will help us expand our horizons. Keeping supply, production and jobs local, while expanding our sales into new territories, is a small producer's dream."

Quick Facts:

  • B.C.'s food and beverage processors produce more than $10 billion worth of value-added products each year.
  • $5.6 million through StrongerBC: BC's Economic Recovery Plan have been earmarked for the expansion of the BC Food Hub Network.
  • Three food hubs are already operating in Vancouver, Surrey and Port Alberni, with additional hubs in Quesnel and Salmon Arm opening later in 2021.
  • 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.