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Summerland wants to be food innovation, processing hub for Okanagan

Image Credit: PEXELS

Summerland has aspirations of becoming the food innovation and processing hub for the Okanagan.

A report due to come before the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen’s board of directors today, May 20, also seeks a letter of support from the regional district for the idea.

Summerland's director of development Services Brad Dollevoet says they have been working on the concept for a number of years as a regional project designed to help all agricultural producers in the Okanagan and Similkameen.

"An Okanagan Food Innovation and Processing hub in Summerland would provide access to equipment that would allow farmers to test different types of value-added products. We’re seeking support at the regional level from the RDOS for the idea, and to help us with further grant applications at the provincial and federal levels,” Dollevoet says.

The B.C. government has a food hub network they are building throughout the province and he says Summerland would like to be a part of that in time for the next round of funding.

Dollevoet says the food hub would come with an industrial-commercial kitchen that farmers could utilize to create new food or beverage products. There would also be ‘wet’ and ‘dry’ lines for pureeing, mixing and drying fruits and vegetables with the goal to creating new food products.

“We’ve heard of interest from other producers for such things as drink mixes, where a professional dryer is used to produce dry mix for performance drinks, something that is currently inaccessible to local producers, because they don’t have access to the equipment,” he says.

“It’s an idea to help our farmers and agricultural producers explore new, unique and innovative markets to enhance their products,” Dollevoet says.

As the Summerland moves ahead the next steps in the project include:

  • continued update of the business plan
  • grant applications for next year
  • find and secure a location for the hub
  • adjust and formalize the organizational structure of the hub

Regional district staff are recommending the board support the initiative through a draft letter provided by Summerland.

The Salmon Arm Economic Development Society recently received $500,000 in funding to create a food hub in that Shuswap community.

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