Surrounded by B.C. onions, carrots, cabbages and potatoes, B.C.’s Minister of Agriculture announced a new $250,000 investment to help more British Columbians grow local.
The money will be split into 10 projects in 10 different communities with the goal of getting more B.C. residents to grow local food in 2017.
“More than 60 organizations around the province put in their request for the money. We decided to provide 10 grants this year as a pilot project. Ten times $25,000 for $250,000,” explained Norm Letnick, Minister of Agriculture.
“This is across the province. I may be biased, but I think it is a great program that will go a long way to improve food literacy in our province, improve our food supply security in our province and go a long way to help non-profit organizations provide good food to British Columbians.”
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 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,” added Steve Thomson, MLA for Kelowna-Mission.
“These are very important projects that help build the food economy and food security around the province.”
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 Central Okanagan Community Farms Society has 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.
“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,” explained Bob McCoubrey, chair, Central Okanagan Community Farm Society.
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.
“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,” said Joy Haxton, Lake Country Food Assistance Society.
“Thank you so much, we truly benefit.”