Farmers and chefs to meet at new event

A new event will bring together Okanagan farmers, food distributors, processors and buyers, so they can meet and do business.

By Judie Steeves

staff reporter

The Okanagan’s food industry—growers, distributors, processors and buyers—are all invited to gather in one room in April to meet each other and make money.

Meet Your Maker Okanagan is a project of the non-profit Farm Folk/City Folk, which has organized similar events in the Vancouver area for the last five years, with growing success, explains Jennifer Vincent, Okanagan events coordinator for FFCF.

On average, she says each participant makes six new connections at these events in Vancouver, and make an average of $30,000, with one participant making $275,000.

Funds to get this off the ground come in part from the annual Feast of Fields held in the Okanagan the past three years, as well as from sponsor Canadian Linen and Uniform Service.

Celebrity chef Michael Lyon of the Hotel Eldorado and Donna Denison of Little Creek Dressings on Westside Road will be guest speakers at the event.

As well, there will be an interactive workshop with the Green Table Network, a potluck lunch which will allow producers to showcase their products, and opportunities for networking.

A moderated panel will discuss ‘from farm to fork: building a sustainable supply chain.’

“The event will walk a fine line between a trade show and a conference,” explained Vincent.

“It’s rare to have these diverse groups in the same room, so this will be an opportunity for growers, buyers and distributors to talk to each other,” she added.

Prior to the event, participants will receive a list of all those who will be attending, so they can decide ahead of time if they want to meet certain people or businesses during the day.

The idea is to attract those in the food industry from all around the valley, and Vincent expects this will become an annual event, as it has elsewhere it’s been held.

Such events can not only reduce our food miles, but also have a significant impact on the local economy, by encouraging the circulation of money within the valley.

She hopes this will build the backbone for a buy-local economy in the Okanagan-Similkameen.

It’s set for Mon., Apr. 16 at the Westbank Community Hall, 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and all small-scale, regional food producers and buyers are invited to attend with the idea of growing both local food production and consumption.

Participants must register by April 9 at 5 p.m., at a cost of $50, by going to www.getlocalbc.org

There’s also more information available at that website.

jsteeves@kelownacapnews.com