CRFAIR is pursuing opportunities to increase our regional farm sector capacity by connecting smaller scale growers to larger regional markets. Most farms in our region are less than 10 acres with mixed fruit and vegetable production. The majority of these small farms market through farm gate sales or other direct-to-consumer models.
One of the key ways that has been identified to scale up local food growing is to support the development of “grow to order" contracts for local farms. With a stable, predictable market, local farmers have told us they will have the confidence to invest in their operations and grow more. We also know that public institutions have a growing appetite for local, healthy food. In this project, we are bringing together procurement staff, chefs and others to see how local growers can collaborate to build the quality, consistency and quantity of supply that these markets demand.
Fresh and Local
To better understand the supply and demand dynamics for local food, CRFAIR conducted the Fresh and Local study in the spring of 2015. We interviewed retailers, wholesalers, chefs, local market coordinators and farmers. What could they tell us about their businesses and the demand for local food? What types of crops or products were needed to fill demand gaps? The report provides the learnings from our highlevel study as well as provides observations around opportunity and potential for the farm and food sector going forward. We also worked with University of Victoria students to study what the barriers and successes might be for local schools.
Did you know that if every school in our region purchased the same amount of fresh fruits and vegetables as Shoreline Secondary School (they have a salad bar program that runs 8months a year) that we could generate $1.2 million dollars in economic activity in the region?
Institutional Purchasing Pilot
This ongoing project, launched in 2015, will make local produce more accessible to chefs in assisted living facilities in the CRD while increasing production on local farms. The project will help us to better understand the infrastructure and processes that are needed to enable institutions to source more food locally.
- Supply 6 Assisted Living residences with 3 to 6 items of local produce for the 2016 growing season.
- In conjunction with chefs, identify 4 to 6 local produce items that can be grown in the CRD and match the pricing requirements of the chefs and farmers
- Food will be ordered, invoiced and delivered through a local produce wholesaler.
- Chefs agree to purchase, when available, the identified produce item for the negotiated purchase price for the 2016 season
- Based on the purchase agreements, farmers will grow the produce specifically for the chefs
- This "Grow for Market" scenario where a farmer has a crop sold prior to planting makes it much easier for farmers to increase production.
- Farmers can consider wholesale pricing because they do not need to spend time marketing.
- Farmers save on per item delivery/packing costs with larger orders.
- Institutional chefs will receive high quality fresh local produce delivered to their kitchens on a weekly basis.
- Local Assisted Living Residences can support their community and take pride in serving produce grown on Vancouver Island.
For more information on how you can participate, contact Susan Tychie at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 250-514-7999.