The Fernie Food Action Strategy, a group dedicated to fostering greater food resiliency in the Elk Valley, hosted a virtual community conversation on Sept. 23 to discuss vulnerabilities in Fernie’s food system.
The organization was created by Dawn Deydey and Gaetane Carignan, who noticed the fragility of the local food system in light of the pandemic.
The Fernie Food Action Strategy hopes to remove barriers to accessing local food by identifying gaps in the Elk Valley’s food web. The organization hopes to engage local governments to revise policies and actions, begin food security initiatives, shorten supply chains, and develop a food strategy that enables enhanced local food production.
At the public engagement meeting, attendees discussed the preliminary results of a public survey that assesses the current challenges and successes of accessing locally grown food.
According to Carignan, survey results are indicating that the majority of respondents purchased extra pantry staples at the onset of the pandemic – including rice, beans and canned foods – pointing to the need for greater food security within the Elk Valley.
In response to the public engagement meeting, organizers are going to be reviewing what other communities are doing to foster greater food resiliency and consider bringing those solutions into the Elk Valley.
Other ideas brought up at the meeting to help strengthen the food system include shared community food infrastructure such as land use or green houses.
Carignan also expressed gratitude towards the Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) for their support in recognizing agriculture as a strategic priority. Specifically, the CBT is currently working with British Columbia’s Ministry of Agriculture to complete studies looking into the needs of the region in terms of agricultural innovation.
The Food Action Strategy’s public survey will remain open until Oct. 31, after which the feedback received at the virtual meeting along with survey results will be compiled into a Food Action Strategy document and presented to council at an upcoming council meeting.
Another online engagement session will also be held in the new year, following the creation of a draft strategy.
For more information or to provide input, visit communityenergy.ca/projects/foodaction/.