What does the Kootenay and Boundary Food Producer Co-op do when a locally-based food production pilot comes to completion at harvest time? Hold a pot luck celebration to share the abundance of food and co-operative opportunity.
The event drew 55 people to Taghum Hall on Saturday. It was organized by Kim Charlesworth, one of the group’s founding steering committee members. She shared some information she presented that night with the Star.
The summer pilot project began in July with aims to connect local farmers with local buyers. Although small to start, they successfully connected three local farmers with Ferraro’s (Trail and Rossland), Kootenay Market (Castlegar) and Kootenay Bakery (Nelson). Charlesworth explained that they liaised between the two groups, matching produce in season with what the buyers were looking for.
Since then the cooperative has also linked farmers to places such as Nelson restaurant Bibo’s, and Ariah’s Edibles, a secondary food processor in Glade.
The group size is modest with five farmer members, and two supporter members, of which Charlesworth is one.
“Being a steering committee member allows me to participate,” she said, explaining that one doesn’t have to be a farmer to join.
They have one member who is certified organic and another who meets Kootenay Mountain Grown standards but the qualifying characteristics for local growers to become a member is that they use ecologically sustainable growing methods.
And they are looking for more.
“We are trying hard to reach out,” said Charlesworth. “We want to have members from Creston and north to Nakusp. We want to show the farmers that we can provide them with this great service.”
Charlesworth pointed out it’s co-op week which ties into the theme of what working together can produce.
Future plans include expansion of the distribution model with increasing farmers and customers, and storage facility for members, which Charlesworth said is critical.
She used the example of the abundance of squash right now. With a storage facility, farmers can continue to supply buyers further into the season. Looking down the road a year or two, their vision is for a value-added processing facility like a commercial kitchen.
Event sponsors were the Nelson Star, Kootenay Country Craft Distillery and Otter Books.