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Nanaimo food bank signs deal to buy fresh produce

Fresh, locally grown, organic produce will be among food distributed by Loaves and Fishes Community Food Bank to clients this summer.

Executive director Peter Sinclair said the food bank will purchase $30,000 of Nanoose Edibles Organic Farm’s yield between June and September, including garden greens, apples, berries, potatoes, carrots and onions – a real variety of the farm’s offering.

Sinclair said the food bank recognizes the importance of local farmers and providing healthy food.

“The thing for us is, we recognize that we’re part of the broader food security discussion that’s happening here on the Island and we’re also aware that we want to make sure we provide our clients with the very best food that we can…” said Sinclair. “What we found is that by approaching a local farmer, we can encourage local food production, we can make sure we get healthy, nutritious food and by purchasing it in volume, we can have it be very cost effective.

“So we’re able to hit a whole bunch of things all at once and come up with a great plan that benefits everyone.”

The idea came to Sinclair while he was touring the Greater Vancouver Food Bank, whose CEO mentioned partnerships with local farmers. Sinclair cited a good working relationship with Nanoose Edibles’ co-owner Barbara Ebell as well as its good track record as some of the reasons for selecting the certified organic farm. Ebell said she and husband Lorne have been running their farm for more than 20 years and are looking to let their young crew take over and need some capital to assist with that.

“We have been bringing in apprentices and people who we could teach, young folk, who are interested in farming and we now have a good group,” she said. “We’re looking to put them into a farmer co-op on the farm and what we needed, of course, was to have some larger income coming in so that they could be appropriately paid for all their hard work.”

Along with the partnership with Nanoose Edibles, Loaves and Fishes also has a smaller-scale partnership with a Cedar chicken farmer for eggs. Sinclair doesn’t rule out developing relationships with other local farmers.

Sinclair said the $30,000 comes from a provincial gaming grant. For more information, please call 250-754-8347.

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