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Conference in Nelson aims to grow the local food economy

   - image submitted
— image credit: image submitted

Two days of food festivities will hit the Heritage City next weekend with a feast for those wanting strength in a local food system.

Farm, Food, Fork is a two-day event organized by the newly formed West Kootenay Permaculture Co-op, a Slocan Valley based not-for-profit group working on food and fuel security measures for the region.

“This festival will be the largest food conference the region has ever seen; a true celebration of local food,” co-op vice chair Shauna Teare said.

Teare is working with Malin Christensson to spearhead this event as part of the new co-op board that also includes young farmers and food business owners who have a vested interest in strengthening the food economy.

“We’re all dedicated to seeing the local food security,” said Teare, a permaculture and graphic designer who also homesteads with her family. “We realized there are missing elements in having a really successful food economy and what we want to was draw attention to those elements and find out more about the needs of the region. And we want to celebrate all of the amazing food things that are happening.”

The first day of the event is called Festival and Feast. Held Saturday, April 5 at Selkirk College’s Mary Hall, this full day conference features speakers from the region and beyond. Take in the Lexicon of Sustainability, a 20-piece info-graphic photography show, food films, workshops, a Kootenay-made food marketplace and “grass-Fed Talks” — a theatre presentation.

Teare said anyone who eats will find this a valuable event despite the phrase “food security” being an inaccessible saying for some people.

“Here in the Kootenays we’re spending $266 million a year on food, and more than 95 per cent is coming from other areas which means we’re shipping it here and we’re also sending that money away from our own pockets and our own communities,” she said.

A midday organic local seasonal feast will be served which isn’t an easy feat at the end of winter.

“The feast is really important to what we’re doing,” said Teare. “And it’s interesting the timing of this event. Here we are in early April. There’s still snow on the ground so eating local and seasonal has been quite a challenge for us. We have accessed from farmers in our area goodies in our root cellar. We’ve got some farmers growing mushrooms for us. We have some farmers who’ve made some kimchis and sauerkrauts for us.”

One of the missing elements in the region is a red meat abattoirs in the region so Farm, Food, Fork purchased their own cow to serve for the event.

On Sunday, April 6, Forum and Feast will continue the theme. Organized for stakeholders, the event brings together the region’s experts on food, planning, education, and logistics.

Open to anyone who works in food or economy, there is space for 150 participants. All funds raised during the first day of Farm, Food, Fork will be used to benefit grassroots initiatives to build the food system.

“Participants will have the opportunity to both pitch a project that needs support and to ‘vote with their fork’ on how the cash bursary will be awarded to projects that address the needs of the community,” said Teare.

Both days of the Farm, Food, Vicki Robin, writer and advocate of “simple living,” will facilitate Fork. Best known for her best-selling book, co-authored with Joe Dominguez, Your Money or Your Life: Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence, her most recent work, Blessing the Hands That Feed Us: What Eating Closer to Home Can Teach Us About Food, Community, and Our Place on Earth was published in January 2014. It is based on her own experience taking the locavore movement to heart, when she ate only food sourced within a 10-mile radius of her home on Whidbey Island in Puget Sound, Washington.

“She’s pretty impassionate and a veteran at all of this and she’s coming here to share techniques and stories of other communities that she’s helped,” said Teare. “She’s super inspired to come to the Kootenays.”

Tickets are $30 for either day and include a feast. For more information or to purchase tickets online check out Farm, Food, Fork online at farmfoodfork.com Tickets are also available at Otter Books.

 

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