Executive Director Judy Stafford said Cowichan Green Community is “thrilled” to be able to offer a food innovation hub to support the local agriculture community.
Together with the Cowichan Valley Regional District, CGC has partnered to secure up to $750,000 in funding from the Province of British Columbia’s Stronger BC economic recovery plan for the development of a food and innovation hub.
The Cowichan Food Hub will allow small and medium-scale businesses to access shared food and beverage processing facilities and equipment, which means the expansion of their current production levels and the potential for new innovation The business expansion will create jobs, support local farmers, and increase food security in Cowichan.
“With access to additional value-added processing facilities, warehouse storage and distribution centre, and business support services, we’re confident these amenities will help producers expand their businesses and create additional employment opportunities in this sector,” Stafford explained. “Plans are already well underway and we’re hoping to launch phase one in spring 2021. We’re very grateful for the exceptional funding support from the ministry, North Cowichan, and the Cowichan Valley Regional District.”
The project will not only be based at CGC’s Beverly Street education centre in North Cowichan, but expand to include a commercial kitchen, a warehouse, and aggregation space. The building will also feature food processing and storage areas, training and support spaces, and technology services to facilitate remote teaching and future podcasting.
“Recognizing the significance of agriculture and local food for the region, partnership funding for the Cowichan Food Hub is a dream come true, and years in the making,” said Barry O’Riordan, manager of Economic Development Cowichan. “Bringing together advanced food processing, testing, and entrepreneurship training under one roof, this facility will help catalyze food processing innovation in the region, supporting expanded employment opportunities while enriching our community’s taste buds.”
Similar projects are being developed in six other BC Food Hub Network sites, bringing the provincial total to 12 hubs.
The network is part of the Province’s Feed BC Initiative, which aims to increase the use of B.C. foods and opportunities for B.C.’s food system.