March 6, 2012 FAC General Meeting

March 6, 2012 FAC General Meeting

Driven by wisdom, powered by youth

March 6, 2012  General Meeting 

Creston Valley Food Action Coalition

There were 30 people in attendance.  What a great turnout again!

Len opened the meeting at 7pm.  As a board the biggest challenge is to come together to get the work done.  The current board is enthused and inspired by one another. The board’s vision is to have Food Security in the Creston Valley. We can all work towards this by supporting the agriculture industry which includes agri-tourism, buying local and supporting the local restaurants which use local food.

Volunteers are always needed and welcome for the many projects of the FAC.  A  membership benefit package is being developed and should be available by mid-April.  The membership fee is $25/family/year. These funds help with the start-up costs and projects which are done throughout the year.

Farmer’s Market Report  In 2011, the Farmer’s Market brought in $23,000 in stall fees – enough funding to pay for the work of the FM manager, book keeper, facility rental, license and insurance fees. This is a beginning of something great and we would like to be able to build on this. Jen and Joel Comer have just recently attended the BC  of Farmer’s Market conference.  They travelled to Courtenay, BC.  They both found this to be very beneficial  and came back with some great ideas to help with future market development in Creston, read their full report here.

Jen and Rima are continuing to work on the Enterprising Non Profit plan.  They are working on a 5 year plan for the Farmer’s Market.

Farm Fresh Guide is currently being updated by Tamara.  She should be finished this project in 3-4 weeks, and it will be published as a map this year!

Seed Registry – Pat Huet The main reason for a seed registry is to save seeds, if local food is what we want then it makes sense to save the seeds which have adapted well to our growing conditions.  If you are interested in seed saving please contact Pat Huet (patmitchell (at) uniserve (dot) com). She will let you know how and what needs to be done.  The seeds will need to be planted and then regrown for 3 years to be considered official. Pat is writing a series of blog posts which can be viewed on the CVFAC website (http://www.crestonfoodaction.ca).

Dan McMurray was known as the Tomato man of Wynndel. He grew and then saved tomato seeds for many years.  Mr McMurray has recently passed away and now these seeds are left.  Pat Huet and others have begun the task of sorting the seeds but they will need volunteers to sort the seeds and then grow them again.  There are also squash, beans and other seeds available.  Some will be available on Seedy Saturday.  The seeds usually only have a life of about 5 years.

Harvest Share – Alexandra is applying for grants so this program can keep running.  This program is totally reliant on the grants which are received.  So far there is about a $10,000 shortfall.  More grants are being looked into so there isn’t a concern just yet.

A few local producers brought some products for sale. Please see them after the meeting.

Panel Discussion:

Local Food Availability in Local Restaurants-Panel Discussion with several local restaurant owners

Panelists:

The following questions were asked to each panelist:

  1. Firstly, tell us about your business philosophy and where local food fits into your business plan or menu.
  2. Approximately how much of your basic ingredients are local?
  3. What are your biggest challenges with getting local food, especially as the seasons change?
  4. How could the FAC help find producers or encourage producers to get you the product you need?
  5. What has been the reception by your customers to your use of local food ingredients?
  6. Do you think that advertizing a local food focus would assist your business?  Can the FAC help?

All of the panelists believe in the local food movement.  They wanted to be able to serve real food with recognizable ingredients.  Some are able to grow their own produce during the growing season so use that in the restaurant as well.  Some people don’t appreciate the locally grown food which has it ‘s own challenges.  The “foodie” trend has certainly helped to get customers; it promotes culinary tourism.  There is less of an impact on the environment as well when local food is used.

The use of local food in the restaurants varies with the seasons.  In the winter season most use  between 10 & 15 % locally grown food.   The summer season increases this use to approximately 25%.  One of the restaurants would like to increase this to 30% in the winter and 75% in the summer.  Storage of the product is an issue. Some of the producers of food could offer to store some products.  The fresh vegetables  and fruit prove to be more of a challenge.  It was suggested that perhaps some preserving of these products could happen.  This is an idea which most restaurant owners would welcome.

The top 5 foods which could be preserved for future use (as from the restaurant owner’s) are strawberries, asparagus, tomatoes, carrots, peaches.  This could be a value added business for someone else.  The  owners don’t need another job but if someone is able to do the preserving the owners are willing to support their efforts.

The biggest challenges are similar as in other discussions we have had.  The availability and consistency of the product.  Storage, as was said earlier, is always a challenge.  Access to fresh products is sometimes an issue for some of the restaurants since there are usually only two employees (the actual owners of the restaurant).  Can the producers deliver the product or is there someone who would be willing to help with this?

The FAC could help with the connection between restaurant and producer  by continuing with the Farm Fresh Guide.  This is a great resource-now how does the product get delivered.  The restaurants who can have the product delivered will tend to use more local product.  We (FAC) need to encourage the connection between the producer and the restaurant.  The farmer’s market is great but it is not always convenient to attend.  Perhaps the producers could have a pamphlet of their products which are available.  There could be an order sheet which could be filled.  (Another value added opportunity).

The restaurant’s clientele has welcomed locally grown food for the most part.  It is hard to win over everyone. Local food is usually a hit.  In order to reach those who don’t “appreciate” the locally grown  food perhaps the FAC could work on the education of this, pointing out the food value and benefits of eating locally produced food.

The FAC could help with the advertising of local food in local restaurants.  This would be welcome by all involved.  The Farmer’s Market could advertise on Saturdays to those who travel from other destinations.  Someone suggested having business cards for the restaurants to help promote the local food.  The restaurants could also have business cards from the local producers for the same reason.  We could put a link on the FAC website advertising which restaurants use local food on their menus.

There was a lot of good discussion with all of the panelists, ideas from all sides which will need to be considered.  Thank you to all of the restaurant owners for participating.

Next FAC general meeting will be April 2nd-4pm.   Topic of discussion:  Attracting and Keeping Young producers in our valley.

Hope to see all of you then!

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