Fields Forward priorities

Web Lead

Paris Marshall-Smith

Paris Marshall-Smith

Last month, 100 people came to Fields Forward’s first Annual General Gathering at Erickson Elementary.  The theme of the afternoon was pathways in and pathways forward. We learned about what is happening in the region, how to get involved, how to benefit from the collaborative partnerships of Fields Forward. Many people from Yahk to Riondel shared their goals for strengthening food and agriculture opportunities. It was inspiring to learn about all the activity.

A special note of thanks to those who spoke about their pathways: Nicole Schreiber, Laura Francis, Jen Comer, Jesse Willicome, Jessica Birdsall, Brenda Brucker, Maureen Cameron, Melissa Flint, and Dave Mutch. We also appreciate Wayne Stetski and Michelle Mungall for their presence and participation.

As a group we confirmed the Fields Forward priorities for 2017: supporting local procurement, farmers’ market, full season agricultural employment opportunities, agricultural extension and training, food education, food culture, co-marketing and infrastructure investment. With these priorities, people are gathering in working groups to create actionable goals for the year.

Current working groups are exploring the following activities: leading a multi-month initiative to investigate and support our regional institutions, restaurants and schools to increase their procurement of local food; gathering information about the potential of freeze dryer function in our region; and, launching Kootenay Farms – the new brand and co-marketing strategy.

On February 25th, Fields Forward introduced Kootenay Farms, the brand developed for the cherry juice that will be produced through the Mobile Press Project. This summer, it is anticipated that there will be 63,000 litres ready to be branded, marketed and used to launch our regional strategy for shared marketing, distribution and production. To support the branding and marketing of the Kootenay Farms products, relationships have been built with retailers and wholesalers, including Choices Markets of the Lower Mainland and Kelowna. Excited by the potential, they are currently waiting to explore Kootenay Farms’ initiative. We are inviting producers and those supporting producers to share their expertise, interest, and experience on April 3 from 10-12 at Kootenay Employment Services office (119 11th Avenue North).

Extension and Training and Food Education – See below for upcoming workshops this April:

1. April 1 & 2 – Agri-Food Business Training.  Sylvia Chong & Greg Mclaren are coming to Creston to offer this 2-day workshop.

The workshop modules are as follows: 1.The Business Planning Process: Learn about the key elements of a business plan from start to finish.

2.Market Access and Analysis: Learn how to research and assess potential markets.

3.Product Development: Learn strategies for success from concept to commercialization.

4.Financial planning and management: Learn how to budget, plan as well as read and understand your financial statements.

5.Quality Assurance: Understand quality assurance, quality control and food safety systems.

6.Labeling and packaging: Learn the elements of package design and legislated labeling requirements.

7.Production Economics: Learn how to determine the costs of production.

8.Logistics: Learn the basics of procurement, receiving, storage and shipping.

The cost is $105 per participant and includes lunch. Contact Sylvia Chong at (250) 608-3663 with your questions. Register online at: www.foundtree.ca/workshops/

2. April 8th – Michael Becker Community Presentation + Dinner

Come and be inspired by innovative + creative food based actions that bring people together.

Hear about the regeneration of Hood River, Oregon and how we can do the same in our region, families and lives.

This event is open to all interested – community members, teachers, educators, parents. Children are welcome and there will be activities for them. Tickets – Adults $15, Children under 12 $5 and Families (2 adults, 2 kids) $35 – can be purchased at Kingfisher Books, Black Bear Books or at www.eventbrite.ca “Michael Becker”.

3. April 22 & 23 – Soil Workshop with agrologists Bill & Laticia Chapman.  Participants of this 2-day workshop will travel through the region to experience and learn about different soils and crop production environments. This workshop will go to Herbada Farm – a commercial dairy farm on the Creston Flats, Cartwheel Farm – an organic market vegetable farm, Twisted Roots – a four season community greenhouse and Kootenay Honey Berry Farm – an emerging blueberry/buckwheat/honey farm. The 2-days will focus on practical learning:

• Building soil health for optimum crop health

• How to soil sample properly and knowing what to look for in your topography

• Manure/composting management, positives and negatives.

• Looking at full cycle nutrient management

Register for 1 day or 2 days @ www.eventbrite.ca “Bill Chapman”

Contact Paris with your questions – 1 855 660 5432 ext 423 or paris@fieldsforward.ca