Having learned that food and agriculture are top priorities for area residents, a local committee is kicking off a Fields Forward program with a forum next week. January 11 and 12 are the dates set to launch the first Community Directed Funds initiative, which has $600,000 to spend, thanks to the Columbia Basin Trust.
Fields Forward, according to the community fund website, is a partnership program designed to boost economic development in the agri-food sector and improve local security.
“The idea is not to replace existing efforts, but to link groups and projects, making it easier for them to do their own work and reach shared goals,” it says.
Fields Forward participants will benefit from the Creston and District Community Directed Funds Committee’s plan to hire a paid co-ordinator to help achieve its goals.
Economic development and agri-foods professionals will work with the coordinator, and annual events are planned to involve the community as the project moves forward.
“We are excited about launching Fields Forward,” said Kootenay Employment Services executive director Hugh Grant, who chairs the committee. “We believe that this will answer a call that we heard from the community for the CDF to support communication and collaboration. We also think the partnership will attract business, government and foundation dollars to our district. With a shared voice, we should be able to better promote our local agri-food potential.”
More information about Fields Forward and the launch forum, which includes training and collaborative planning, can be found at communityfund.ca/fields-forward. Participants will include farmers, regional politicians and representatives from provincial ministries.
“Taking the leap from big dreams to bold steps can sometimes seem impossible,” said Creston Valley Farmers’ Market manager and Town of Creston Coun. Jen Comer. “But I feel like we are ready to make that leap in our community when it comes to food and farming. Over the last few years, we have dreamed big — we want to see everything from more food being grown on our fields to more local meals on our tables. I believe that the Fields Forward partnership can pull us together and use the small successes we have all been seeing as building blocks for bigger wins.”