The Kamloops Farmland Connections Conference

Tomorrow I’m speaking as part of a panel at the Kamloops Farmland Connections conference. This is organizer Addie Houlberg’s dream conference- the one she wanted last year when she headed into her first year farming.

“You can’t put your head down and plant some rows. That’s not how a healthy, local food system that drives local economies is built.  It’s not just a ‘lifestyle’, where you do it for free or at a loss, it’s a business and that is about making connections and growing new markets through partnerships, policy change and education.”

I know Addie because we both landed in Kamloops a couple years ago and started hanging out at the Kamloops Food Policy Council  one of the main sponsor’s of this event. I’ve been pitching in a bit on the organizing front.

The panel I’m on includes Venture Kamloops and Community Futures on the business supports available to farmers, City of Kamloops on the opportunities opened up by the Agriculture Area Plan and the forthcoming Urban Ag plan (this morning’s meeting), Farm to Chef Collaborative (David from Terra who served a delicious lunch at that meeting) and me for Farm to School.

A few years ago, as part of an evaluation I was conducting for the Edible Garden Project I got to interview a teacher who was spearheading a Spuds in Tubs program. I’ll always remember what she said:

“You know why everyone recycles? Because we started in schools: we taught how in classrooms, we invited in groups to do funny plays on the 3 R’s, because we recycled in every room in the school,  and then the kids went home and taught their families how. That’s what needs to happen with with healthy, local food.”

I’m going to try and channel the vision of Farm to Cafeteria– imagine what this means for food producers (farmers, hunters, fishers, ranchers) and our economy as a whole if we put our collective energies to ensuring “healthy, local and sustainable food in all public institutions”. That’s a market to be reckoned with and an economy that can nourish us all.

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