Some of the produce grown at Newman Farm, a community farm in the CRD. (Nick Murray/News Staff)

$50,000 feasibility study coming for CRD food–processing hub

Community groups hope hub will lead to jobs, increased revenue, more sustainability

The B.C. Ministry of Agriculture has announced it will give $50,000 to fund a feasibility study for a food–processing hub in the Capital Regional District (CRD).

The study will look at the viability of the Food Security Distribution Centre as a regional food hub. The aim of the food hub is to connect local food producers with specialized equipment, expertise, and space to grow their businesses while securing greater food sustainability for the region. The current 22,000-square-foot centre is in Esquimalt and was acquired in June by The Mustard Seed Street Church and Food Bank. This was made possible thanks to funding from Vancity, the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, and the Victoria Foundation.

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The Capital Region Food and Agriculture Initiatives Roundtable (CRFAIR) also called for the funding, as did the South Island Prosperity Partnership (SIPP), which mobilized their members to support the initiative. SIPP interim CEO Bruce Williams said his group supported the application as it hopes it will help agricultural businesses develop and lead to more jobs and capacity in the sector.

“The Food Security Distribution Centre will now see a broad range of partners come together to determine how to expand its infrastructure and services to support farmers and food producers, as well as promoting social good through food rescue and redistribution,” said Linda Geggie, executive director of CRFAIR. “The addition of a food hub has been a high priority for the region for some time and is a key part of the good food strategy to build more viable and robust local food systems.”

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SIPP is the economic development organization for Greater Victoria and is comprised of 50 members. These include 10 local governments, seven First Nations, three post-secondary institutions, nine industry associations and nonprofits, and nearly 30 major employers. More information can be found at southislandprosperity.ca.

CRFAIR is a regional coordinating body for the Good Food Network – roughly 100 food, farm and health organizations that work together to implement the good food strategy. The organization has been active in the Capital Region for over a decade and has worked on a range of projects including the launch of the Downtown Public Market, the Vision Sandown initiative, the Foodlands Trust, the annual Farmer2Farmer conference and the creation of the Capital Region Food System Outcomes Map. Visit crfair.ca for more information.

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The Victoria Foundation manages charitable gifts from donors, allowing them to create permanent, income-earning funds. The proceeds from these funds are then distributed as grants for charitable or educational purposes. More information can be found at victoriafoundation.ca.

The Mustard Seed Church and Food Bank serves an average of 5,000 individuals each month and works with more than 44 agencies in Greater Victoria to provide fresh, nutritious food to recipients. For more information, go to mustardseed.ca.



nick.murray@peninsulanewsreview.com

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