John Abernante from Earthly Organics in Fruitvale is a Kootenay and Boundary Food Producers Co-op member participating in a pilot project.

New pilot project helps local farmers and regional food security

“The goal of this pilot,” Warren says, “is to allow farmers to remain on their farms growing food and raising animals..."

A new regional co-op has begun operations with a pilot project helping local farmers get their goods to a broader range of markets.

The Kootenay and Boundary Food Producers Co-op began its market brokerage and distribution pilot in July with their new coordinator, Susan Warren.

They are working with farmers in the Salmo and Fruitvale areas to help find markets and distribute their products to those markets over the course of the summer.

Warren determines what products are available from which farmers on a weekly basis, and coordinates with local retailers and a local shipper to get sustainably grown veggies into more hands. Kootenay Market, Ferraro Foods and Kootenay Bakery Co-op are just some of the retailers now ordering from the producers co-op.

“The goal of this pilot,” Warren says, “is to allow farmers to remain on their farms growing food and raising animals, while reducing their costs by working cooperatively.”

The producers co-op plans to offer other much-needed services to its members, just at a time when food prices and uncertainty of supply are becoming national issues.

Kim Charlesworth, a founding member, says “our research shows long term winter storage, a labour pool, and a value added processing facility are all critically needed in the area.”

The pilot program will give them the opportunity to learn what works well and what doesn’t, after which they will expand operations to other areas where members farm or reside, says Charlesworth.

Mark your calendars to celebrate: the Kootenay and Boundary Food Producers Co-op is hosting a local producers fall event with an open house, followed by a good old fashioned barn dance Oct. 17 at the Taghum Hall.

The event is to celebrate their official launch and provide information to anyone interested in membership.

Co-ops are member driven, meaning members are the people who decide where and when services will be offered.

The Kootenay and Boundary Food Producers Co-op is actively recruiting new members from Grand Forks to Creston and north to Nakusp and Argenta.

Interested food producers can contact  regionalproducerscoop@gmail.com for information, or visit our website at kbfpc.ca.

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