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CONTRIBUTION · 9th October 2011
On Monday, October 17th at the Prince George Civic Centre, farmers, ranchers, chefs, caterers and food service managers from across the province will be gathering together to learn and discuss the opportunities for the growing agri-food industry in the north at the Regional Food Systems Expo.

The Expo has been designed with networking in mind, and will feature a Farmer-Chef Connection Session that pairs up local farm operators one-on-one with restaurant and purchasing representatives in a speed networking format. This type of speed networking has proven to be a very successful way of linking farmers with chefs in other communities across the country.

According the Beyond the Market coordinator, Jillian Merrick, “The appetite for a stronger local food system in the north is there. Since initiating the Beyond the Market project in the beginning of 2011, we have seen overwhelming support from both farm and food service operators and from the public in general. This event will bring all of them together in one room for the first time and hopefully provide a real spark for innovation and forward momentum.”

Many food and agriculture industry experts from both the local region and from across the province will be presenting their experience and leading collaborative discussions on topics including: organic certification; new farm business start-up; sustainable restaurant operations; community root cellars; local purchasing strategies; grassroots farm networks; and more.

Jillian adds, “The opportunities for agriculture in the north are immense. Some of the products grown and raised here are of the highest quality, and our access to land and transportation networks provides the industry with a real competitive advantage. We think that restaurant, catering, and institutional food services within the local region are the best places to start to grow the opportunities for local agriculture.”

The event is free for all farm and food service operators, and the general public is also welcome for a $50 registration fee. Those wishing to attend should go online to to register or contact the Beyond the Market program at (250) 562-9622 ext. 115.

Beyond the Market: Growing the North is hosting the Regional Food Systems Expo as part of an ongoing effort to build, strengthen, and diversify the food and farm industries in BC’s Highway 16 region from Valemount to Terrace. 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.