What a successful launch party we had Saturday October 17th at the Taghum hall! The evening was well attended by about 55 people from Trail, Fruitvale, the Slocan Valley, Salmo and communities around Nelson who are interested in local food issues and want to learn about the co-op. Attendees enjoyed a robust potluck spread and the tasting samples of sausage provided by Jim Ross of Havesome Hogs in South Slocan, fermented kraut, daikon and kombucha provided by Valerie Sanderson of Soups in Season and dried fruits provided by John Abenante of Earthly Organics in Fruitvale.
Kim Charlesworth, chair and spokesperson of the KBFPC steering committee, gave a presentation explaining what the KBFPC is about.
Charlesworth said “we need our farmers and food processors to be able to grow and prosper producing food. When you think that we only produce 5% of the $266 million spent on food annually in the West Kootenay’s – there is an economic opportunity for local farms to become viable if they have the needed infrastructure to support them. What is stopping them now? We know there is a lack of infrastructure for local farmers and secondary food producers including: storage, distribution services, accessible market channels, food processing kitchens and a reliable labour pool.“
The market distribution pilot the KBFPC undertook for 14 weeks this summer was reviewed. Three produce farmers participated from Fruitvale, Salmo and Nelway, for whom the co-op found retail, restaurant and food processor customers. Each week orders were placed and delivered. Two farmers who participated in the pilot also spoke. Willy Fuder of Willow Springs said the pilot was a new revenue source for him without having to staff it. He said spending 20 minutes a week on the phone with the coordinator listing what produce was available is a lot easier then spending an entire day for a market. This gave him more time to do what he loved best – farm – and the more time he is on his farm to look after his crops – the better the quality of his produce said Fuder. He really appreciated the service the KBFPC provided securing and talking to new customers, managing the weekly distribution logistics and the paper work – “its the only group around that is doing this that I can see”.
John Abenante of Earthly Organics explained he was able to reduce one market he attended and stay on his farm an additional day per week. It not only saves costs not having to pay someone to be on the farm when he is away but gives him more time to plant more and do long term planning. He sells at markets, to stores and now sells through the KBFPC. “I encourage members to invest in the co-op, we need it in this area and it will only work if members sign up and get involved and invest in building a stronger infrastructure for the future – starting now”.
People asked if the KBFPC would duplicate work other groups are doing. We explained how we are working together with most groups interested in food security in the region to fill the gaps and work cooperatively together.
There was a clear message. New members are needed to gain momentum to grow. The KBFPC is at early stages and needs supporters including: financial, time to volunteer, and those with abilities to share. Full membership for a livestock, produce, feed, herb or honey farmer and for secondary food producer is a one-time fee of $500 (can be paid over 5 years). Supporters are encouraged to invest $50, which also allows them an opportunity to be on the board if they wish. The region includes Grand Forks in the west to Creston in the east and north to Nakusp and Argenta. Members decide the future and will participate in the first AGM on November 25th, 2015. The first Board of Directors will be elected then. If you would like information about the Kootenay & Boundary Food Producers Co-op email email@example.com or visit www.kbfpc.ca.