Soon, the development of the Kootenay Farms Food Hub will offer a new way for local farmers and growers to expand their offerings of delicious, healthy food products.
This fall, a food processing facility will be built in Creston as part of a project led by the Fields Forward Society.
The Columbia Basin Trust has provided $150,000 and funding, and the British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries will also contribute up to $500,000 to purchase food-processing equipment, renovate the facility, and cover staffing for two years.
“People in the Columbia Basin have always been aware of the importance of local food security, and the pandemic has brought this issue even more to the forefront,” said Katie Kendall, senior manager of special initiatives at Columbia Basin Trust.
“This facility will help increase the locally-made food and beverage options available in the region, benefiting the people who live here, helping the region’s producers expand, and creating local employment.”
There is already an abundant food supply available in the Kootenays, with local products including cheese, meat, grains, and fruits.
The processing facility, which has been talked about for over a decade, will provide an opportunity to diversify and create value-added foods with a longer shelf life, such as fruit juices, jams, jerky, and salsas.
The hope is the regional food hub will also encourage collaboration and communication on certain aspects like marketing, packaging, transportation, and distribution.
These innovations should help producers to cut costs and scale up their businesses, while still being able to provide foods that are all grown, produced, and processed locally.
The new facility will provide space and equipment for processing at an affordable price. There will be dehydrators, blenders, and mills for dry foods as well as kettles and pasteurizers for wet foods.
A full launch of the facility is expected in winter 2022.
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