Kitchen Connect and South Island Food Hub Celebrate Processing Expansion
For the last month, everyone at Kitchen Connect and the South Island Food Hub has been busy preparing for our processing initiative launch that happened on September 22, 2022.
Our new processing initiative for small to medium sized farms and processors is a crucial step to scale up and leverage avenues to bring their products from farm to retail. The event was also an opportunity to share information about our training, retail products, our future plans, and what processing equipment we will be setting up soon!
We thank The Honourable Minister of Agriculture and Food Lana Popham who opened the event with a pepper cutting ceremony with CRFAIR Executive Director Linda Geggie and local farmer Ty James. It was great to hear from the Minister and the government’s support of this important program.
The buzz and anticipation was palpable as this initiative is the first of its kind on the South Island. With food shortages and empty shelves during the pandemic, it revealed how dependent our system is on outside sources.
It is interesting to note that decades ago, before the introduction of supermarkets in the ‘50s, and the globalization of markets, food independence on the South Island was the norm with farms supplying the entire island with an abundance of fresh produce. Eighty-five percent of our food supply was grown locally here on the island.
Today, our local food supply has dwindled to roughly 10 percent. Our island economy now imports more fruits and vegetables than we export, and we lean heavily on California and other warmer regions to supply us with our food. (1). Losing this important food chain to industrialization is possible to dial back with community support. This program is a small step in the right direction.
Currently, small to mid-sized farms may not have the capability, education or funds to use and buy much needed equipment. The availability of state-of-the-art processing equipment at Kitchen Connect will enable farmers and processors to leverage their ability to enter the retail market.
The main message was clear; Kitchen Connect and South Island Food Hub have the potential as a game changer in the market, and in conjunction with supporting our local farmers in their pursuits, they can become a viable business.
Thank you to our local media for the support and of course our partners, funders and staff at The Hub! We appreciate your support and look forward to moving onto our next step for construction of the facility in the next several months.
Kitchen Connect Lead Developer Susan Tysh was interviewed by the Times Colonist.
(1) Capital Region Food and Agricultural Initiatives Roundtable (CR-FAIR)