A food hub facility proposed for Summerland has been promoted as a way to benefit agriculture in the area. (Black Press file photo)

A food hub facility proposed for Summerland has been promoted as a way to benefit agriculture in the area. (Black Press file photo)

Okanagan ‘food hub’ proposed for Summerland

Municipality of Summerland seeking to create facility to help in agri-food industry

The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen has given its support to the municipality of Summerland in the community’s pursuit of an Okanagan Food Innovation and Processing Hub.

The food hub is a regionally focused initiative in Summerland, dedicated to increasing the local agri-food economy and redefining the food system.

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“The timing couldn’t be better with issues of food security being so important now in light of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Brad Dollevoet, director of development services for Summerland.

The facility would be a testing facility for agri-food businesses and a production facility for those working on small-scale food production.

“It’s about building a stronger, more sustainable and resilient food system for our valley,” said Jane Campardo, one of the people involved with the food hub project.

She said there is consumer demand for this facility. Those involved with the initiative have spoken with more than 100 entrepreneurs and farmers about their needs for a facility of this nature.

Summerland staff have been working with regional partners, including local governments, academia, research and innovation, industry associations, farmers and agri-food businesses.

Work on the project began in 2018, but the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020 stopped further progress.

A memorandum of understanding has been signed by the municipality of Summerland with Community Futures Okanagan Similkameen and Accelerate Okanagan.

If implemented, the food hub would provide a commercial kitchen with specialized processing equipment on a shared-use model.

Location options would require the purchase of land and possibly the construction of a new building.

The municipality is applying for grants this spring and summer and is searching for a location for the hub

The regional district board voted unanimously to support the municipality of Summerland in its pursuit of the food hub.

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