A long-awaited food hub officially opened its doors in Creston on October 15, the fruition of eight years of discussion, study and advocacy on the part of locals.
Spearheaded by Fields Forward Society of Creston, the Kootenay Farms Regional Food Hub and Innovation Centre provides local growers and processors with processing equipment and facilities, an aggregation and distribution service, and sales support. Businesses will rent the equipment or hire Fields Forward’s staff on a fee-for-service basis.
The province gave $500,000 to Fields Forward and the Regional District of Central Kootenay this spring to finalize development of the food hub, which locals have been advocating for since 2013. The province is providing a total of $800,000 over three years to support the initiative.
In addition, the Columbia Basin Trust contributed $150,000 to purchase commercial-grade equipment for the facility. The funding follows on previous allocations to support feasibility studies.
“The Columbia Basin Trust has provided Fields Forward with tremendous support over the last three years. We couldn’t have succeeded with this Food Hub initiative without their ongoing interest and support in food security and farming,” says Elizabeth Quinn, executive director of Fields Forward.
The hub is one of six now operating in the province, with an additional six set to come online in the coming months as part of the province’s $5.6 million food hub network.
All hubs are being considered as locations for mobile seed cleaners being developed under the aegis of Vancouver-based FarmFolk/CityFolk, which is leading a BC Seed Hub initiative funded by the BC Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries.
The project is looking at the potential of adding in-hub infrastructure or mobile cleaning units at food hubs in different regions of the province.
“We have been able to build four mobile seed cleaners,” the society reported last week, expressing appreciation for provincial funding to do so. “In the not-so-distant future, these trailers will be housed at partner locations across the province.”
According to the province, those locations have yet to be determined.
“FarmFolk CityFolk are continuing to consult with different food hub operators to determine which facilities are most interested and appropriately located and sized to include seed processing equipment,” a statement from the agriculture ministry said. “At this time, the Kootenay Farms food hub is not involved but potentially could be in the future.”