Planning now for a Food Secure Future in the Boundary Region

Press release from the Grand Forks and Boundary Regional Agricultural Society.

Thanksgiving is October 14th.  World Food Day is October 16th.  Both of these important dates are ideal opportunities for all of us, to not only celebrate with food, but to think about what is on our plates, who  produced it, and where it came from.  At this fall harvest time, the Grand Forks and Boundary Regional Agricultural Society in partnership with the Kettle Valley Food Co-op and Boundary Family and Individual Services Society are initiating Our Food: The Next Chapter, a series of events to examine our region’s food security. Funding for this project has been provided by the Community Food Action Initiative, in cooperation with Interior Health and by Regional District Kootenay Boundary Area D.Over the next few months, the project aims to develop a community action plan to ensure that the Boundary has sufficient food that is locally produced and processed, and more readily available to all into the foreseeable future. “Food has become an increasingly hot topic over the past few years.  We can no longer take our easy access to it for granted.  Climate change, loss of farmers, land use challenges and myriad other factors have made us increasingly vulnerable.” states Sheila Dobie, Ag Society President. “We need to have a strategic plan that ensures that Grand Forks, and the entire Boundary Region, is a place where people want to put down deep roots.  Having a vibrant food system is essential to attracting new families, and ensuring that those who live here, or are visiting, spend their grocery dollars on food that is grown in this region.”  An online survey will launch the project in early October.  Farmers, food retailers, institutions, food enthusiasts and food processors will be asked to participate by describing their practices, and sharing their concerns and ideas about the food system. The results will direct phase 2 of the project. The first of two Food Security Forums will be hosted in Grand Forks on Saturday November  16th when panelists, locals, and other guests will discuss the struggles and triumphs within our local, regional and global food systems.  Attendees will have ample time to ask questions, tell their own stories, develop a common understanding of our situation and discuss local solutions to a global problem. This event will lay the ground work for the next stage of public discussion. On Saturday January 11th, 2014 the second forum will be held to focus on the real work of adapting solutions to our own realities.  These forums will be designed to resonate with home gardeners, small to medium scale farmers, food enthusiasts, local institutions that serve food, restaurants, processors, food retailers and, simply, those that eat every day.  Our Food: The Next Chapter is being coordinated by Colleen Ross, long time farmer, policy analyst and food activist.  Ross recently moved to the Kootenay region, and is the vice president of the National Farmers Union of Canada.  She has travelled extensively, learning from farmers, academics and consumer organizations around the world.  Ross says, “There are indeed lessons to be learned from other communities, here in the north and in the global south.  There are common problems and we can use insights from those. But, the ultimate aim of the project is to determine what needs to happen right here in the Boundary Region in order to completely revitalize our food system at home.  If we truly want families to come to the region and “settle down”, we need to ensure we have a secure food supply to nurture them.”  According to Dobie, “Local food systems guarantee a healthier rural environment.  Farmers who are able to thrive by delivering food to their own community will stick around, passing on their knowledge to the next generation, and will entice youth to enter into farming as a career.  We need to turn the tide in our food system in Canada.  Grand Forks is fertile ground to begin that process.  Everyone benefits.”For more information about Our Food: The Next Chapter or to volunteer on the project, call Jan Westlund, project Steering Committee, at 250-442-4809.

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