The Local Trust Committee (LTC) should develop and distribute a local food guide to support food growers on Gabriola, according to Commissioner Eric Veale of the Agricultural Advisory Commission (AAC).
At their Tuesday meeting at the WI Hall, while discussing a draft Regional District of Nanaimo agricultural plan forwarded to them by the LTC, Veale noted a recommendation to “create and distribute a local food guide or directory… include aquaculture … (and) … ensure that it is available online. This would assist not only the public, but (farmers would also) get to know what types of activities are occurring in their area and potentially create opportunities for collaboration and cooperation”.
The plan says that the brochure would “promote those farms that participate in the Environmental Farm Plan to build consumer awareness of the stewardship efforts by farmers”. The plan also proposes that local governments “work with the tourism industry to develop ‘taste of RDN’ tours, guidebooks, cookbooks and promotions at local and regional restaurants, convention/hotel facilities and other venues”.
Commissioner Sal Dominelli said that Denman Island has a “really nice pamphlet”, with a listing of all the farms on the island and what they produce. Veale said he has much the same sort of information on his website. He said he has collected a lot of information on how many farms there are on Gabriola and where they are, although there are some “big gaps” in the information he has collected on his website, because “some farmers don’t want to be found”.
Dominelli said that Gabriolan Tsiporah Grignon has been hired by the Vancouver Island Health Authority to do an analysis of food security on Gabriola. He said this entails a list of all the farms and what they produce. He thought Grignon would be a good person to develop a farm food-guide pamphlet.
Commissioner John Switzer suggested there should also be a booth, or at least an information list, at the Farmers’ Market, that shows all food-related information on the island “so that if you wanted to know a producer or a processor or where the community gardens were” the information would be available. He said market-goers are the natural audience for such information.
Veale said this information would attract both tourists and local buyers. He said almost every community has a farm pamphlet, but that Gabriola’s is over seven years old.
Veale also suggested that an “edible garden tour” that raises funds for farmers be organised. He said many people have “incredible” backyard vegetable gardens, and that he would want to go on such a tour to see what other farmers and backyard gardeners are doing. He added that there would have to be a “no grazing rule” on such a tour.
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