Community Comment: Rossland’s growing appetite for local food

"Indeed the desire to grow and consume local food is a trend fast on the rise."

There is an exciting movement happening in Rossland. It’s even visible from space…well, planes and Google Earth at least.

It’s a movement that was critical to Rossland’s survival in the early years, went out of fashion for the better part of a century and is now re-emerging as an important part of our future. A group I’ve had the pleasure of recently bringing together and working with has been working hard to grow a bigger, stronger, and perhaps even more delicious local food movement.

In chatting with our city planner a few months back, she remarked that in the new aerial photography created for the city this year the movement was plainly visible. From the last set of photos taken five or more years ago you can also see many more gardens in backyards where previously there was grass. In that time we’ve also seen the Rossland Community Garden be realized, we’ve seen the Rossland Foodies emerge and grow into the Rossland Real Food Group, we’ve seen the Mountain Market expand into a core piece of Rossland life, and we’ve had chicken crawls, garden tours and much more.

Indeed the desire to grow and consume local food is a trend fast on the rise, and one that is ready to make another concerted leap forward. That leap forward may well look quite similar to a jump back into the past. Around the turn of the century Rossland, at a population near four times that of today, on roughly the same footprint supplied much of its own food locally. Now with a quarter of the people it’s estimated that less than 2 per cent of our diet is grown in our mountain home.

Building off previous plans an efforts including Rossland’s Official Community Plan, Visions to Action exercises, Sustainability Commission, Strategic Sustainability Plan, and 2016-2018 Council Strategic Plan, this week will see the submission of a Letter of Intent to apply for $45,000 in grants over three years to take our local food movement to the next level.

Three weeks ago I put out the call to all of those involved and in love with growing food in Rossland. The result was an energetic group of 11 that showed up to talk food. After discussing what works, what doesn’t, why, why not and how to really take it up several notches, we came up with a plan.

It starts with continued and ramped up engagement of the community through the formation of this group into an official food security task force. That group will then endeavour to undertake further research on all relevant laws, bylaws, rules, regulations, licensing and the like to assist with the rest of the plan. With those two pieces in place it moves on to increasing the food production capacity of Rossland. This can come in a variety of ways including pooling existing privately held land that isn’t in production, it could also mean utilizing some existing city owned, non-utilized land that is ideal for growing, including for example four acres in Happy Valley. It could also include green housing to increase season length, and productive square footage. Education also plays a role with additional workshops, mentorships and learning opportunities to help boost production from existing and want to be farmers will aim to increase skill, knowledge and ultimately yield.

With capacity boosted, a focus on increasing the sales channels for local growers will then help get food from farm to fork. This could look like an expanded farmers market, subscription / crop share services and the like.

With capacity increased and sales channels expanded through to customers, the plan then looks at value added production. Whereas a tomato might make a buck apiece for example, a jar of salsa sauce goes for even more. Helping put co-operative facilities and tools in place to move our growers up the value chain is a natural way to improve the food economy.

Speaking of economy, that is one of the perhaps unexpected aspects of the local food movement. When we think about economic growth and how do we get more money coming into, staying in and moving around our economy? There are any number of ways, but few are as easy and impactful as growing a local food system. Every single person in town eats food, if you take 1,600 households multiplied by the average weekly food bill, you can quickly see the market opportunity is large.

We will find out in January if we get to move on to the next level in this particular grant’s process. Whether we get this grant or not however, the local food movement is on the rise, the talent, energy and passion to produce that food is here, and a willing, and receptive market is ready to buy and eat it. In the end, growing, buying and selling local food, also grows our local economy, grows our food security and grows a happy and healthy population. All it needs is a little helping hand along the way to get us to a brighter future that just happens to look a lot like our past.

Andrew Zwicker is a councillor for the City of Rossland

Community Comment is an opportunity for elected officials from our local municipalities to update citizens in the region on the events, plans and progress in their respective communities. Every Friday, the Trail Times will present, on a rotating basis, a submission from councils, school trustees or regional district directors.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

No clear option to help more Rosslanders access recreation facilities in Trail: Report

Rossland residents have had to pay double the cost to use the facilities in recent years

Nelson’s American sister city faces COVID-19 culture war

In Sandpoint, Idaho, wearing a mask is about Black Lives Matter, gun rights, and COVID-19

B.C. village grants reprieve for those living in RVs

by JOHN BOIVIN Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

RDKB to spend $5,000 to review 2020 freshet response

The province is also kicking in $5,000 for the review of flood protection rollout and communications

Regional fire crews initiate rope rescue for stranded trio

Regional fire rescue recovered couple and their dog from steep cliff

B.C. records 30-50 new COVID-19 cases a day over weekend, no new deaths

Many of those testing positive were identified by contact tracing for being linked to other confirmed infections

Five B.C. First Nations call out Canada for ‘discriminatory’ food fish practices

West Coast nations say government ignoring court-won right to chinook and coho

Rent-relief program becomes new front in fight between Liberals, opposition

Opposition trying to draw parallels between decision to have Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. run program and the WE controversy

Ottawa sets minimum unemployment rate at 13.1% for EI calculation

Statistics Canada says the unemployment rate was 10.9 per cent in July

$45K in donations received after couple’s sudden death in Tulameen

Sarah MacDermid, 31, and Casey Bussiere, 37, died August long weekend

Famous Yukon-based bhangra dancer brings movements of joy to Long Beach

Internet-famous dancer is exploring Vancouver Island, visiting the B.C. Legislature and more

Battle of Fairy Creek: blockade launched to save Vancouver Island old-growth

‘Forest Defenders’ occupy road to prevent logging company from reaching Port Renfrew-area watershed

COVID-19 could mean curtains for film and TV extras

Background performers worry they’re being replaced by mannequins on film and TV sets

Most Read