The provincial government announced on Friday, Feb. 19, it will be investing around $750,000 toward a food hub across the Boundary.
Friday’s announcement follows two years of planning between a host of regional stakeholders the Ministry of Agriculture, according to interim food hub manager, Sandy Mark, who shepherded much of the initiative.
The object of the hub is to restore area “food sovereignty,” which Mark stressed was especially vital amid disruptions to national supply chains amid the COVID-19 pandemic. To that end, the hub envisions a new meat-processing facility at Rock Creek’s Riverside Centre, plus a commercial bakery and food-testing lab to be run out of Greenwood’s Barbara Diane Colin Memorial Ball Park. The operations will be open to small and medium-sized food growers and vendors across the entire Kootenay-Boundary region, she said.
Mark said the Rock Creek facility could come online as early as this fall, adding that it will boast “value-added” amenities like meat-smoking, brining and sausage-making to be managed by Magnum Meats. The Greenwood bakery and testing lab will be set up and monitored by its corporate sponsor, Food Metrics Laboratories, which Mark said runs a community food lab in Courtenay, B.C.
The bakery will feature a special oven funded by the province which Mark said will be able to bake 500 pies (fruit or meat) per hour. The neighbouring food lab will test meat and dairy products and other high-risk food stuffs according to international safety standards, allowing local producers to sell their wares in commercial markets, Mark said.
The food hub will meanwhile offer business advice to small and medium-scale food producers under the auspices of the Boundary Community Ventures Association, a non-profit initiative headed by RDKB board member for Area ‘C’, Grace McGregor.