The Kamloops Food Policy Council has been stirring up the local food economy with our new food hub, The Stir. In 2021, we received $800,000 from the BC Ministry of Agriculture and Food to implement a food hub in Kamloops to provide mentorship and commercial kitchen rentals to help incubate new food business start-ups in the Kamloops region.
In phase one of our food hub project, we helped fund the construction of the new Gardengate Training Centre in Brocklehurst, operated by Open Door Group. This state of the art commercial kitchen is now shared by Gardengate’s clients as well as by members of the Stir, called Stir Makers.
KMK Living Inc was one of the first Stir Makers to use the Gardengate kitchen in the spring of 2021. KMK Living rented the Gardengate kitchen through The Stir to turn their home kombucha brewing hobby into a business. They were able to brew and store their products in the Gardengate commercial kitchen to meet the regulations required to start selling their kombucha and water kefir fermented beverages at local farmers markets, launch a home delivery program, and start wholesaling to local retailers. One year later, in May of 2022, KMK Living graduated from the Gardengate kitchen and opened their own brewery in Kamloops after acquiring Wild Mountain Jun, another local fermented beverage company. You can now find KMK Living products on tap or on the shelf around Kamloops and up at Sun Peaks. Seeing KMK Living leave our facility is not a sad goodbye for us. Our whole goal at The Stir is to help local food entrepreneurs overcome their initial hurdles and get going with less risk and more certainty so that they can grow and succeed beyond our kitchens.
In addition to the Gardengate kitchen launch in phase one, the Kamloops Food Policy Council helped fund the Kweseltken Kitchen, a mobile food processing trailer operated by the Community Futures Development Corporation of the Central Interior First Nations (CFDC of CIFN). This trailer is equipped with smoking, canning and dehydrating equipment that can be taken directly to rural Indigenous communities to enable them to start making value-added products utilizing traditional food preservation methods. The Kweseltken Kitchen helps people get cooking wherever they are at and when they are ready they can have access to our
brick-and-mortar commercial kitchen facilities to further scale up their enterprise.
The Kweseltken Kitchen pivoted during the devastating forest fire season of the summer of 2021 to help feed evacuees and frontline workers. The trailer continued to feed our community when the Kamloops region was impacted by the atmospheric river later that year that led to the closure of our major roadways connecting us to the coast.
In Phase 2 of our food hub project, the Kamloops Food Policy Council took over a 4500 square foot building at 185 Royal Ave on Kamloops’ North Shore to convert it into The Stir’s flagship facility. The Stir headquarters has two main areas of focus: The Stir Kitchen, a full-scale food processing facility, and The Stirfront, a local food store and community space. The Stir Kitchen opened in October 2022, welcoming 2 new Stir Makers to start their businesses: Milos Adventure Catering and JStax Eatery, a ghost kitchen selling directly through meal delivery apps.
Renovations started at The Stir in the fall of 2021 and finished in the fall of 2022. Construction was greatly impacted time and again by supply chain disruptions due to global events or local natural disasters. However, the setbacks helped us realize how truly important the work we are doing is. After our roadways were shut down in 2021 and we experienced grocery stores lined with empty shelves, a strong local food system seems more important than ever.
The KFPC is continuing our work on phase 2 of The Stir by contributing to a regional food distribution system in Kamloops. In this way, The Stir is strengthening our local food system by increasing our capacity for both local food processing and local food aggregation and distribution. The better we are able to feed ourselves from our own backyard, the more resilient our community will be in the face of global uncertainty and climate crises.
We have secured funding in partnership with a local Indigenous fishery cooperative to improve the Stir warehouse and construct a large-scale walk-in freezer and dry warehouse storage. This partnership will also include ground transportation to distribute Kamloops-made products from our Stir Makers across BC. The KFPC will be launching a feasibility study for our local food distribution system in early 2023 to gain community insight into how best to shape our efforts.
This project will also include turning our Stirfront community space into a local food retail outlet.
In order to implement our local food distribution system, we are hiring a full-time Distribution Manager to champion this project for the KFPC. To learn more about this job posting and to apply, visit: