Victoria-based food producers are set to benefit from the Province’s recent $5.6 million investment to expand the BC Food Hub Network.
Eat Island Grown is among the new participants. The small farm in North Saanich was started by Ty James in April 2020 and produces leafy greens like spinach and arugula, as well as cherry tomatoes and peppers. His goal is to use the food hub in Victoria to produce value-added fruit and vegetable products like pesto and hot sauce to help grow his business.
“The Victoria Food Hub will make it possible for small agricultural producers like myself to develop and grow viable food businesses,” James says. “In partnership with the Victoria Community Food Hub Society, we are excited to expand the Eat Island Grown brand this year, bringing new locally grown and processed products to retailers in our community. The Victoria food hub and the processing capacity it will offer brings an opportunity for new partnerships between farmers, processors and retailers to be established.”
With the Province’s latest investment the BC Food Hub Network expands not only in Victoria but in Bowser, Cowichan Valley, Abbotsford, Kamloops, Creston and the Kootenay-Boundary region.
“COVID-19 has created a number of challenges for small businesses and families wanting to find good, safe, local food,” said Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries. “With each new food hub, we’re giving more small- and medium-sized businesses room to grow, creating jobs and helping communities connect with local food. I’m proud of the work our government and our community partners are doing, and I’m excited to watch the BC Food Hub Network continue to grow.”
Food hubs offer small businesses access to facilities, equipment, research, innovation and business development services without requiring an extensive financial investment.
Each food hub is unique, created in collaboration with the community in which it is built. The food hub in Bowser will focus on seafood innovation, while Victoria, Cowichan Valley, Creston and Kamloops will work with local farmers and food processors to help grow their businesses.
Three food hubs are already operating in Vancouver, Surrey and Port Alberni, with additional hubs in Quesnel and Salmon Arm opening later this year.
Funding for the new food hubs joining the BC Food Hub Network is part of the province’s $10-billion COVID-19 response and of the Province’s Feed BC initiative, increasing the use of B.C. food and bringing more opportunities to all aspects of B.C.’s food system.