Since late July, we have been celebrating an announcement from the Province of British Columbia through the Ministry of Agriculture! Kamloops Food Policy Council, one of six organizations from around the province, was awarded $50,000 to test the feasibility of a Food Innovation and Processing Hub in our community.
Things have been moving along at warp speed, with Robyn McLean, Food Hub Project Manager, lining up a team to provide comprehensive supports to food businesses in the Kamloops region. Interest in building up processing facilities in Kamloops has been percolating for years. This success for our local food system is rooted in working together and deepening community relationships.
We are grateful for the contribution of a cross sector working group that has been focusing on this idea since February. Representatives from the following groups have been nimble and creative in coming up with this plan:
• City of Kamloops,
• Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development,
• Indigenous communities (Skeetchestn Natural Resources),
• Economic development agencies (Community Futures Development Corporation of Central Interior First Nations and Venture Kamloops), and
• Community organizations such as Kamloops Organic Buying Club and Farm to Chefs.
The unique part of this project is that it will test the viability of a Food Hub in Kamloops by combining a feasibility study with a pilot that will deliver business accelerator services and supports to food entrepreneurs through Kamloops Innovation, a key project partner. For the pilot project, a Food Hub Coordinator, a research assistant, and subject matter experts related to food businesses will work with six businesses that are looking to expand or trial new products (e.g., sauces, dips, ready-made meals, or canned goods).
“Starting and growing a small business is hard. The pilot will pair local food-based entrepreneurs with mentors, provide focused business instruction, and move participants through these challenges,” says Dr. Lincoln Smith, Executive Director of Kamloops Innovation. “We are super excited to have the chance to take the approaches we use to build successful technology companies and apply them to the local agriculture and food processing sector here in Kamloops.”
Join us at our September network meeting to meet the Food Hub crew! Our monthly network meeting takes place at the Mount Paul Community Food Centre (140 Laburnum Street), on September 4, from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. We are known for our legendary potlucks, so please bring a dish to share.
For details and news about the Food Hub pilot project, visit http://kamloopsfoodpolicycouncil.com/food-hub-pilot-project/ or email firstname.lastname@example.org