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Posted: February 20, 2021

New food hub to strengthen food security in Creston

Food and beverage producers will soon have more opportunities to grow their businesses while increasing food security with the development of a new food hub in Creston.

“B.C. food hubs create new opportunities for small- and medium-sized businesses and strengthen food security, so British Columbians can rely on locally grown and processed food now and for generations to come,” said Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries. “Our BC Food Hub network is a wonderful example of innovation at a local level, creating jobs and supporting farming, skills training and community building in the regions they operate.”

The B.C. government is investing up to $500,000 to purchase food-processing equipment and cover other start-up costs in partnership with the Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK) and Fields Forward. The hub will help small- and medium-scaled businesses access shared food and beverage processing space and equipment to increase their production and sales.

Creston is home to a variety of farmers and food processors who work hard to bring safe, reliable and delicious food to families throughout the province,” said Brittny Anderson, MLA for Nelson-Creston. “From meat and cheese to crops like grains, cherries and an abundance of other fruits and vegetables, farmers in the Kootenays contribute to a stronger food supply for British Columbia. I am thrilled to see funding for the food hub coming to the Creston Valley. This community-driven project is a decade in the making and will help farmers build their businesses and create value-added products, bringing the best of the Kootenays to kitchens here and across the province.”

One of the local Creston businesses looking forward to using the new food hub is Wloka Farms, owned and operated by Barb and Frank Wloka for more than 40 years. The farm produces a number of fresh fruits, including peaches, plums, apples, pears and apricots. The Wlokas hope to use the shared kitchen and support resources from the new Creston Food Hub to create more value-added products that will help continue to grow their business and create opportunities for more young farmers.

“The continuous development of a value-added food supply in Creston will strengthen food diversity and the long-term agricultural health of our community through innovation and collaboration,” said Barb Wloka. “We’re excited to see the opportunities the new food hub will bring to the community and surrounding areas, and we know this will help more young farmers have a bright future.”

“Food security requires a viable farming sector, and with increasing global complexities, locally resilient sources of food will be more important than ever throughout our region. Joining the BC Food Hub Network will help support our regional farmers to innovate and capitalize on shared assets, which will be of great benefit to all residents within the Kootenay region,” stated RDCK board chair Aimee Watson.

“The Creston Valley farmers, food processors and groups addressing food security have wanted a food processing facility for over a decade. The food hub will bring farmers and food processors together, and will provide opportunities to collaborate, share marketing strategies and innovate. Providing a shared-use facility with food processing equipment will support micro processors with scaling up their businesses,” said Elizabeth Quinn, executive director, Fields Forward.

Lead image: A lonely unpicked apple passes winter in one of Creston’s many orchards. e-KNOW file photo

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