Brianna van de Wijngaard, project coordinator for the Central Cariboo Community Food Hub Project spoke to members of the Williams Lake Garden Club on Mar. 3, 2022.
The talk introduced the group to her work with the Williams Lake Social Planning Council (WLSPC) to develop a Food Hub and increase food security in the region for vulnerable people.
The talk van de Wijngaard gave to 27 members of the local garden club outlined three key short-term projects the WLSPC is working on, some of which will require engagement with local farmers and gardeners.
One project will be to set up a system and schedule to recover more of the so-called “write-offs” local producers wouldn’t sell. She has been in touch with farmer’s market organizers to try and make sure vendors know this option is available.
Van de Wijngaard said that even local gardeners or homeowners who find themselves with significant amounts of extra produce or fruit on their trees can contact the organization and they will be working to pick up and distribute this surplus to those in need.
A second goal will include expanded “gleaning” of the extra produce left in fields or on fruit trees by local producers. The group will be looking to work with the Cariboo Chilcotin Conservation Society, which already does work recovering leftover crops and donating them to a variety of groups in the area, including the Women’s Contact Society and Williams Lake First Nation.
This is extra produce which is often left in fields, fed to livestock or composted. The surplus is often simply marked, not suitable for storage or too expensive or time-consuming to recover, but still usable.
The third goal could involve taking over the Williams Lake Garden Club’s seed library. Van de Wijngaard is hoping the library could be expanded and replenished in order to ensure more available local seeds for producers. She has been talking to a group called FarmFolk CityFolk which she hopes could support that work. The FarmFolk CityFolk group works to support local food security and could support workshops around seed harvesting and seed cleaning.
All of these projects are ones the food hub project sees as a good way to start with the limited resources the program has at this point.
While the WLSPC is working on a funding agreement with the United Way, the agreement would be for one year, and the group will have to work towards more long-term funding to accomplish some of the larger goals they have, like finding a facility to house the food hub.
All of the work is aimed at providing increased food security for vulnerable people in the region.
Supply chain issues, climate disruption and inflation can be “scary” for consumers, according to van de Wijngaard.
“Especially for people on the cusp, financially,” she said. “It’s something that definitely is on people’s minds a lot.”
For more information, or to participate in some of these programs, contact: Brianna van de Wijngaard at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 778-961-0600.