Last weekend, I had the pleasure of attending the BC Seed Gathering at Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) in Richmond, BC. This bi-annual gathering brings together members of the BC EcoSeed Co-op, Seedy Saturday/Sunday and community seed library organizers, as well as  students from KPU’s Sustainable Agriculture Program to network, learn more about growing and saving seed, and get inspired from each other’s work.

 

And inspiring it was! From the opening address by our Minister of Agriculture, Lana Popham, to the carrot-tasting and judging, there was plenty of passion and cause for celebration. Ms. Popham told us she would like to rename her Ministry the “Ministry of Agriculture, Fish, and Food Systems” – which sends a clear message that she understands and values the interconnectedness of ecosystems. It is also reassuring to learn that she co-founded the first certified organic vineyard on Vancouver Island and has been a longtime advocate for vineyard workers and food producers.

Other sources of inspiration were the many organic growers who can talk for hours about different kinds of beans or squash, and the energetic instructors from KPU’s Sustainable Ag program, who gave us a tour of their teaching farm near the KPU campus, including moveable “high tunnel” greenhouses, a geodesic dome, and their mobile seed-cleaning trailer, which just happened to be getting prepared for a trip to the Shuswap to help clean a massive amount of industrial hemp seed for Green Future Industries in Chase.

 

 

 

 

As the organizer of the Kamloops Community Seed Library, I was excited to meet other seed library organizers and chat about how they operate. The Kwantlen Seed Library is housed in several “antique” card catalogue boxes, which the organizer was lucky enough to find at an estate sale. They are ideal for storing and displaying seed collections and we at the KFPC would love to get our hands on something similar. If anyone ever comes across old card catalogue boxes or cabinets, please let us know!

 

The vision of the Kamloops Food Policy Council is a food system that is regenerative, sovereign, and just, and it is reassuring to know that so many knowledgeable, committed people in our province are working towards that same goal. I look forward to the next gathering in 2021, to reconnect, and see what new innovations have developed in the world of seed.

 

Kwantlen Polytechnic’s Geodesic Dome

 

 

 

 

Call it providence, karma, serendipity, or what you will, but sometimes just what you need shows up just when you need it . . .

The Kamloops Food Policy Council has a couple of projects on the go at the Public Produce garden and  the Community Garden in McDonald Park. We had an RBC “Day of Service” scheduled at the park, and I was on the lookout for some plants so the team could fill some empty spaces in the Public Produce beds. While I was at the park the day before thinking about where I should go to find some good, inexpensive veggie plants, a guy drives up in a van and shouts out the window, “Hey, do you want some tomato, eggplant, and pepper plants?” “Seriously?”, I replied?

He opens up the back of his van, and there are several flats of beautiful, healthy-looking, vegetable transplants. Neto, and his daughter, Giovanna, help me carry them over to a shady spot where they can sit until the next day. “You made my day”, he says. “I didn’t know what I was gonna do with all these plants and I couldn’t bear to just throw them out”. Then they drove off, smiling and waving.

I made HIS day? I was just left standing there in amazement at what just happened. There were enough plants to fill the spaces in the beds as well as some extras to pass on to our friend Barb Lundstrom who grows a garden for the SHOP kitchen at ASK Wellness.

The RBC team showed up the next day as planned, and as well as planting all those veggies, they prepared and planted two “Three Sisters” beds with corn, beans, and squash, and cleaned up and weeded a couple of vacant Community Garden plots. All this in the 30 degree plus heat of the afternoon! On top of all that, they donated $1000 to the KFPC!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank-you so much RBC for an amazing program and an amazing team! You have made a real difference – none of that work would have gotten done without your efforts!

And thank-you Neto, for your kind gesture and your community spirit!

Network Meeting Summary
May 1, 2019
~ Much gratitude to Addie de Candole for the beautiful photos ~

Celebrating Laura
What a crowded hall it was on this special evening, a true testament to how many people Laura Kalina has impacted over her 30+ year career with Interior Health. Glenn Hilke kept the energy light and speeches were shared from Sheila Nelson (who helped found the Kamloops Food Policy Council with Laura), Tatjana Bates (an Interior Health Dietician who shared memories and also graced Laura with a whimsical handcrafted garden vest — see photo at the top of the post), Carole Hebden (KFPC President shared a note from Paula and Mendel Rubinson who also helped to form KFPC), and a message from Kendra Besanger who shared her gratitude all the way from Montreal.

The potluck was epic, including intricately decorated ‘pollinator’ cupcakes from Shirley Culver. Cheryl and Sheryl (who mentioned that Laura appreciates it when colleagues share the same name; it sure keeps things simple!) shared a hilarious slide show spanning topics such as: Laura, ‘The Promoter – Alert the Media!”, Learning About Food!, She is now ready to teach! and a Typical Work Day (which involved a whole lot of mountain biking and nordic skiing 😉 — looked incredible).

When the floor was opened up for Open Mic, many people spoke to how Laura inspired them to get involved in food security, focus their graduate studies on various aspects of the food system, and move to the city because of how many food-related initiatives there are here (most of which were started through Laura’s efforts). Without a doubt, Laura has accomplished so much in her career. Throughout, however, she held family as being of utmost importance.

 

 

Left: Laura receiving Secwepemc People, Land, and Laws by Ron and Marianne Ignace.

 

Laura’s daughter and husband spoke to the amazing balance Laura was able to hold between an abundant career and being a very present and loving mother (Laura’s son also called in to offer congratulations).  What was palpable in the room was the deep appreciation to Laura for welcoming so many to the community through food (action), helping people to feel at home here, being a person so rich in gratitude (and encouragement), and for generously sharing her bountiful gift of knowledge.

City staff offered thanks to Laura on many levels; personally, on behalf of the City of Kamloops, and the broader community. Rob Wright (Gardengate) and Glenn Hilke spoke to how Laura was a catalyst and a connector to bring a food-based social justice to Kamloops, to bring to the forefront the need to alleviate poverty and household food insecurity in our community.

Anyone who meets Laura is aware of her intensity, something which comes from the heart. Through this, as someone so aptly described during the celebration, Laura has helped “make Kamloops shine…for everyone.”

Although Laura has officially retired from Interior Health, she continues to work part-time with Qwemtsin Health and will be Kamloops Food Policy Council’s Honorary Director and Founding Member….forever. We love you, Laura!

Announcements
We Would Love Your Input!
You may have been at one of the three network meetings where discussions have been held about Kamloops Food Policy Council’s vision and new value statements. Here is the latest revision and we’d love to hear your feedback about them. You can click on the word ‘revision’ above and you will be taken to a working document. You can add a comment by highlighting the word or section of interest, then click on the speech bubble that shows up on the right to add a comment.

You can also download the Vision Statements for Kamloops Food System and email comments to lindsayellenharris@gmail.com

BC Food Costing Report Evaluation
Interior Health is collaborating with the BC Centre for Disease Control and to evaluate the BC Food Costing Report 2017 and Dissemination project. Please use the survey link:  https://ext-qiqa.bcchr.ca/redcap/plugins/surveys/?s=AHJP9HH33N to provide feedback on the Report, Infographic and key messages. The anonymous survey should take about 15 minutes to complete. Deadline for your response is May 12th!

The purpose of the Food Costing in BC 2017 report is to provide data to assess food affordability – the amount of income required for individuals and families to eat a nutritionally adequate diet. This report is undertaken every two years, and this year we also released an infographic to help promote the key messages.

Upcoming Events – Save the Dates!
Farm 2 Chef Grazing Event – July 21, 5 – 8 PM
Thistle Farm
Early Bird prices ($50 per ticket) until June 30

KFPC AGM – August 7, 5:30 to 7:30 PM
If you are interested in learning more about what it means to join the Board of Directors, you can read over the expectations and terms of reference on the KFPC website. There is also information about how to submit your expression of interest by 4 PM on June 18.

Next Network Meeting: June 5, 2019, 5:30 – 7:30
A report back from Nourish: A dialogue on the root causes of household food insecurity

** Would you like to help out at our June Network meeting? If so, email info@kamloopsfoodpolicycouncil.com. We need someone to chair and two sets of two people to help with set up and clean up. **
Chair:
Set Up:
Clean Up:

Check out this press release from the Ministry of Agriculture. It’s great to see our governments investing in our food security and supporting local farmers with equipment, skills training and financial support.

The social enterprise project had its first Food Literacy Workshop with the Boys and Girls Club on July 23rd, and it was a blast. Nine children from the Club tagged along with us for the day. In the morning, they helped harvest apricots, and afterwards we joined them in the kitchen. The kids pitted and cut the fruit and we used it to make a puree for dried fruit leather. While that was being made, we busted out a pedal-powered bike blender, courtesy of TRU. Everyone had a turn at the pedals making apricot and berry fruit smoothies. Once they were done having fun on the bike, the puree was ready and the kids could fill the dehydrator. I hope they liked their fruit leathers the next morning!

 

The project was a hit, and we’ll be returning this week for another round of fruit leather fun. Yay!

Boys&Girls Club                                     

The GAP shares a lot of gleaned fruit with our partners at JUMP.

GAP apricots

JUMP is a volunteer-run Not-For-Profit organization operating a drop in centre on the North Shore that provides free community meals, produce markets, and urban community gardens. JUMP creates opportunities for people of all ages who may be struggling economically, socially and nutritionally to stabilize their lives and meet the challenges of sustaining a healthy lifestyle. It facilitates a network of peer support that helps individuals and families build personal capacity as well as our community by participating together as volunteers to achieve food security, social integration and community development.

A big thank-you to Lawrence for inviting us into his workshop and spending his Saturday afternoon guiding us through the process of taking apart, cleaning, sharpening, and putting back together our shears and clippers! The best thing is that I now feel confident enough to take a tool apart and put it back together on my own. It was super fun and the results were amazing! Check out the before and after pics below.

 

 

The inaugural seed packaging party for our new Community Seed Library was a great success! Thanks to Sam, Haley, Lindsay, Marie, and Michelle for your time and your ideas! They filled and labelled dozens of seed envelopes in preparation for this Saturday’s Green Living Expo. Come and check out the KFPC display at the Expo and become a Seed Library member to take home some of our seeds.

The Kamloops Food Policy Council has been hosting a variety of educational activities related to food. Our most recent offering was a knife-sharpening workshop.

Learn how to sharpen your knives . . . it sounds simple enough – right? A few pointers on getting the angle right – some brushing up on your technique. As I discovered, there’s a bit more to it than that . . .

First of all, I found out the steel rod thing I’ve been using at home isn’t even meant for sharpening – it’s just for removing tiny burrs on the blade between sharpenings. You need a stone for real sharpening (of which there are many choices – diamond stone, water stone, oil stone, ceramic stone), any of which can be called a whetstone because they are used for sharpening, or “whetting” as it was once known. To add to the confusion, a water stone is sometimes called a wet stone, which of course, sounds just like whetstone. Read more