Farmers and food processors throughout the Columbia Basin will have access to a new regional food processing facility that is setting up shop in the Creston Valley later this August.
The facility — an initiative of Creston’s Fields Forwards Society — will produce juices from fruits and vegetables, package vegetables for institutions, bottle jams, freeze-dry products into powders and provide other food processing services.
“Producers and processors in the valley and Columbia Basin are ready for a dedicated facility to accelerate innovation and aggregate our food products to the scale required to reach new markets,” said Danny Turner, the chair of Fields Forward and owner of Just-A-Mere Organic farms.
The province’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries is providing a $500,000 grant for the fiscal year to Fields Forward, which will go towards renovating a facility, purchasing equipment and covering staff positions for two years. The full launch of Creston’s facility is scheduled for winter 2022.
In a press release, Fields Forward said that the purpose of the food hub is to help Kootenay food and farm businesses grow by giving them access to community-based processing equipment and facilities at an affordable price.
“It will also offer an aggregation and distribution service, and sales support. Cold, dry and freezer storage is planned. Businesses will rent the equipment or hire Fields Forward’s staff on a fee-for-service basis,” they said.
Fields Forward will also be participating in the BC Food Hub Network, where they will connect and learn from 12 food hubs throughout the province.
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