Xaxli’p First Nation is looking to agriculture to increase local food security, create jobs and drive economic development with the help of federal funding.
Formerly known as the Fountain Band, Xaxli’p is an Indigenous government of about 250 members located about 15 kilometres from the village of Lillooet.
“Being semi-remote and having a large number of elders in the community, food is expensive and we want to improve the long-term food security for our community members,” says Xaxli’p economic development officer Lyle Leo.
In 2019, the community started a high-level assessment of “where the Xaxli’p came from, where they are planning to be and where they are at now,” he says.
Producing crops in the community is a “cost effective opportunity for acquiring healthier food closer to home. Many don’t have safe and efficient transportation to purchase fresh food.”
The first step towards this goal was acquiring land. It recently spent $900,000 to purchase around 400 acres of range land, bringing its total agricultural holdings to 1,000 acres.
In 2020, the Xaxli’p First Nation project received $87,340 in federal funding through the Indigenous Agriculture and Food Systems Initiative and the AgriDiversity Program for an Agriculture Community Readiness project to undertake a market study, a land capability assessment and an irrigation water source assessment. It is currently conducting identifying the best crops for the location and developing a business plan.