Strengthening Access to Local Food
New community-led projects in the Columbia Basin will support access to affordable, quality, local food for residents, with an emphasis on assisting those in need. Community kitchens, lawns-to-food initiatives and seed-saving libraries are just a few of the projects included in Columbia Basin Trust’s Local Food Access and Recovery Grants.
“We continue to see increasing interest in enhancing community growing spaces, recovering and redistributing food and using improved technology in food production,” said Hannah Holden, Delivery of Benefits Senior Manager with Columbia Basin Trust. “These projects will help more Basin residents—especially those in need—access locally grown, nutritious foods from communal growing and processing spaces, and benefit from knowledge sharing opportunities.”
Food access and recovery grants are part of the Trust’s work in local food production and access, a strategic priority as directed by Basin residents. Over $850,000 will support 24 projects across the region that focus on expanding opportunities for residents to create healthy meals, enhance social and cultural community connections through food and reduce food waste.
Growing a Greener Future
The Village of Warfield will increase food production and sharing by placing garden boxes and pollinator plots throughout municipal greenspaces. The Warfield Food Advisory Committee will also offer food-related workshops, organize plant exchanges and seed swaps. Volunteers and committee members will engage the community, and grow and redistribute unused food to residents.
“Food is a fundamental part of our human experience. We hope this project will not only build food resilience, but also increase community connections,” said Cyra Yunkws, Village of Warfield Councillor and Chair of the Warfield Food Advisory Committee. “We are grateful for Columbia Basin Trust for funding this initiative and look forward to seeing the food and flowers throughout Warfield.”
New Garden Beds and a Kitchen Renovation
The Golden Food Bank will construct eight new garden beds at the College of the Rockies House to increase local food production and shared educational opportunities in a community setting. The new gardens will make nutritious food available for clients on a weekly basis, bolstering the 285 kilograms of vegetables grown in 2020 for the Food Hamper Program. Basement kitchen renovations at the Food Bank will also increase capacity to redirect more food to the community from local grocery stores that would otherwise go unused.
“The new Food Bank gardens will be used to grow vegetables for its weekly Food Hamper Program, which makes food accessible to members of the community,” said Rachel Gamble, Special Projects Manager with Golden Food Bank. “Furthermore, educational programs and workshops will run through the gardens, providing Golden residents the opportunity to learn about different vegetation and food literacy."
Building a Tool Library at Johnsons Landing
A low-barrier culinary tool lending library will be created for community use to facilitate processing and preserving of locally grown and raised foods through the Johnsons Landing Community Association. The library of resources and skill-sharing will enable greater access to local food on a year-round basis, while reducing food waste. Tools include canners, juicers, mixers, dehydrators, grinders, smokers and more. Shared use will support sustainability and building community connections as many tools are not required for daily use.
“We appreciate this support for increasing our capacity for local food production and processing. Having access to these tools will make preparation and preservation of locally grown food more efficient and easier, particularly for younger people who are just starting out,” said Karen Newmoon, Chair of the Johnsons Landing Community Association. “Sharing these tools will foster a sense of community cohesion and contribute to reducing our ecological footprints, while increasing the use of seasonally abundant, locally grown foods."
Ecogarden Expands, Offers More Functionality
The Wildsight Elk Valley Branch will support Fernie residents with their connection to local food and gardening education with an expansion to the current EcoGarden site. Larger in‐ground growing spaces for plot holders, wildlife fencing and an outdoor covered learning area will increase activity at the community gardening space that currently has a waitlist for beds. The expansion will also include new tools and a toolshed for users.
“We are excited to take the next step in offering our community more opportunities to grow the food they eat. Now more than ever, people are looking to strengthen their connection with locally grown food,” said Dawn Deydey, EcoGarden Advisory Committee Member with Wildsight Elk Valley. “We are so excited to take this next step that wouldn't have been possible without these funds.”
Columbia Basin Trust supports the ideas and efforts of the people in the Columbia Basin. To learn more about the Trust’s programs and initiatives, and how it helps deliver social, economic and environmental benefits to the Basin, visit ourtrust.org or call 1.800.505.8998.