Okanagan Food Hub Co-Op continues to gain steam

Nearly 30 went to a meeting to gauge public interest in the Okanagan Food Hub Co-Operative's plans for a storefront business

Plans are moving ahead for a market in the north end of Kelowna.

Plans for a one-stop food shop in Kelowna’s north end are starting to take shape.

A meeting held late last week to gauge public interest in the Okanagan Food Hub Co-Operative’s plans for a storefront business highlighting local fare attracted roughly 30 people.

Wolf Wesle, of Green Croft Gardens, is one of the driving forces of the co-op and said there was a great deal of interest in the concept, among both consumers and food producers. Now they’re going to do a co-op shareholder drive to solidify community commitment. As that moves forward, Wesle said the approach the co-op will take to managing supply and demand will take shape.

The co-op covers the area from Salmon Arm to the U.S. border in the South Okanagan.

Current members have decided that the centre will be Kelowna, and they have been approached by a developer who has a building and location where they think a co-op would go well.

Wesle is currently staying mum on the address, but says it will be in the north end neighbourhood of Kelowna.

His cautious approach in sharing a potential location is because the last time Kelowna seemed poised to have a food co-op, chaos ensued.

Nearly three years ago a plan for a Granville Island-type market at the old BC Tree Fruit packinghouse was proposed. As some made a push for the Kelowna Farmers and Crafters market to relocate to the North End, relationships fractured and volunteer boards rose and fell. In the end, the developer behind the market plan never followed through and the status quo persevered.

It was upheaval that Wesle was right in the middle of.

“The current co-op has grown out of that disastrous ending,” said Wesle. “The mistake we made was we assumed that everybody wants to grow their business and that just isn’t so … but there are a lot of farmers who find that two markets [days a week] at the [current Farmer’s] market isn’t enough anymore.”

Many of those farmers have already joined the co-op and they will likely continue their relationship with the farmers market at Springfield and Dilworth roads.

Wesle stressed that the storefront is meant to augment what’s already available in terms of getting products to the consumer, and there’s more than enough opportunities for both ventures to exist.  Studies suggest that farmers markets only account for one-and-a-half per cent of all grocery dollars spent in a community.

And on the developer side of the equation, Wesle said the proposal is more realistic.

“It’s smaller. The building at this point is a large building with a large outdoor portion that goes with it,” he said. “We will not be using all of the building and we will be looking for other interested parties to move in.”

Some examples that have been discussed are a fish store, or coffee roaster and bakery.

To get to that point, though, the co-op needs to raise enough support and money to gain access to federal government grant funds.

The co-op board is working with a consultancy group which has done farmers market work with Kamloops and Vancouver farmers markets, and has a plan in place.

Once everything is up and running, the board will hire a manager to run the store.

At a meeting held late last week, 30 people attended and expressed a desire to be shareholder. Another meeting is scheduled for mid-December.

Just Posted

UPDATED: Okanagan Mountain Park fire forces evacuation alert

Properties from 6006 to 8888 Lakeshore Road are being placed on an evacuation alert

Carrot Mountain fire fans smoke over West Kelowna

A cluster of three fires are burning above West Kelowna

Complete list of B.C. Interior wildfire coverage

Up-to-date information on blazes happening the Kamloops Wildfire Centre

UPDATED: Motorists being turned around as wildfire closes Hwy. 97 again

Motorists may use an alternate route via Highway 97C, Highway 5A and Highway 3

Two fires caused by lightning at Big White last night

The fires are currently being contained

Breaking: More evacuation orders for Mount Eneas wildfire, south of Peachland

The BC Wildfire Service is battling a large wildfire alongside Highway 97 in Peachland.

Update: Summerland wildfire forces PIB state of emergency

More than 40 firefighters are on scene of the wildfire near Mount Conkle, just outside of Summerland.

Hockey trip fraudster receives house arrest

Man duped 16 families with Okanagan Elite Hockey Association out of over $100,000

Four wild fires still burning near Keremeos

One fire was extinguished and another reported after lightning came through area

‘Amazing Race Canada’ competitors face B.C. challenge

They drove Corvettes, mastered falconry basics, and ate blueberry pie in the Cowichan Valley

Installers to battle Team B.C.

Exhibition men’s fastball Saturday in Vernon

Grizzly bear jumps in river, chases B.C. kayaker

The bear got a bit too close for comfort along the Elaho River near Squamish

Parks Canada looks to shine light on cloudy future for historic sites

A plan is in place to produce 10-year plans designed to turn around sagging attendance figures

B.C. poet shines a bright light on struggle with homelessness

Book launch for John La Greca’s Homeless Memorial is at Vernon’s Gallery Vertigo July 21.

Most Read