While many northern residents and commercial purchasers are interested in buying locally grown and produced food a frequent complaint is how difficult it can be to find local food. To help solve this problem Beyond the Market: Growing the North has launched a new interactive website to connect consumers with local food options in their community. www.beyondthemarket.ca
features a number of tools and information resources that will assist local chefs, caterers and individual consumers alike in offering fresh healthy choices on their menu and at home. Resources include a searchable directory of local farms offering direct sales, a calendar of food and agriculture events in the region and beyond, a list of all northern BC farmers’ markets, information on the different kinds of northern food products and their seasonal availability, monthly farm profiles, and much more.
The website is part of the larger Beyond the Market project that links farmers, ranchers, purchasers and consumers in BC’s Highway 16 region from Valemount to Terrace in an effort to identify the barriers to the local food industry and encourage collaboration and entrepreneurial development to overcome them.
Project Coordinators, Jillian Merrick and Chuck Holyk explain: “in connecting with purchasers across the north, we’ve discovered that that many chefs and suppliers are eager to purchase fresh food products directly from local farms and farmers’ markets, but the barriers to local purchasing have been difficult to overcome on an individual basis. At the same time, the rise of the local food movement has allowed many small-scale farmers to grow their business, but their access to commercial, institutional and even home consumer markets is limited. We intend to make it easier for these supply and demand markets to connect and for agriculture to become a real economic opportunity in the region.”
Beyond the Market is designed to expand market opportunities for northern food producers, support new opportunities for the local agri-food industry, and provide more northern residents with access to fresh, healthy and affordable food products. The project hopes to address the many barriers to agricultural growth by working together with project partners, communities and regional districts to build and strengthen the local economy.
Beyond the Market: Growing the North has been made possible by the financial support of the Community Futures of Fraser-Fort George, Community Futures Nadina, Community Futures 16 37, the Omineca Beetle Action Coalition, the Regional District of Fraser-Fort George, and the Community Futures Rural Economic Diversification Initiative.