The Regional District of Bulkley Nechako (RDBN) has launched a survey to determine how the regional food economy currently is and to assess the need for a possible food hub in the region.
The survey is also being conducted in a bid to find ways to shift towards more food sales and investment back into the region and to launch initial phases of a food hub in 2021 to potentially forming a regional food hub network.
“What would it be if we increased local food access is our main thought behind having this feasibility study. Since Covid more people are wanting to eat local and our region has over 100 producers so bringing the producers and the consumers together is how the idea for food hub comes to mind,” said Debbie Evans, the agriculture coordinator with RDBN.
Evans said that while food hubs are available in different parts of the country, it is not yet available in this region. According to her, a food hub would allow multiple food producers, processors, and distributors to share facilities, equipment and services so they can reduce costs and better market their products to wholesale and retail buyers locally.
“We still want people to visit farmers’ markets. Such hubs are not a competition but would work in conjunction with the existing services and models to enhance access to locally grown and produced food,” she said.
The survey, according to Evans, is targeted to producers. “We have heard from consumers that they want to buy local and now we really want to talk to producers and understand their needs,” she said.
The survey which launched on Oct. 16, will go on until Nov. 20 and upon completion of the survey, participants will be entered in a raffle. At the end of the survey, the RDBN will draw names of three survey respondents for the first prize of an Ipad, the second prize of a $200 Workwear Gift Certificate and third prize of a $100 Visa card.
If the survey prompts for the need for food hubs, it would mean more economic opportunities for local food producers, raisers, harvesters, and makers.
The RDBN Food Hub Survey for Producers can be accessed on its website under the ‘Agriculture’ tab.
Evans said she hoped that all the regional producers would participate in this survey or feasibility study, “and if feasible, let’s give it the best possible chance for succeeding.”