City strikes up a conversation on food strategy

NANAIMO – Identifying unique products, branding, and distribution on the agenda.

Good food often sparks the best conversations, but a conversation about food is taking place to ensure Nanaimo enjoys food security and strategies for decades to come.

In 2008, the city adopted its official community plan called planNanaimo. Part of that plan includes a section on food security and how the community can develop sustainable local food systems, encourage partnerships in food security and ensure access to nutritious food for all of Nanaimo’s citizens.

People, organizations and businesses involved in the food sector are beginning that discussion today (March 9) during a workshop hosted by the city titled Food for Thought – A Conversation on Food Systems. The workshop takes place from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre.

Deborah Jensen, community development planner for Nanaimo, said the intent of the meeting is to begin building the Nanaimo Food Charter and Food Strategy as directed by planNanaimo.

“What we’re hoping to take away from Saturday’s conversation is what the community is thinking about in terms of food,” said Jensen. “What makes Nanaimo unique in the overall food system? There are so many aspects to a food system and we really want to focus on the ones that are of the most importance to this area.”

Jensen added that subjects like food branding, and products unique to Nanaimo and how it can be distributed will also be discussed. Looking for ways to create more business opportunities and jobs through food will also be explored.

The conversation is getting started at a time when several different forces are converging that will affect food supply, and how food is grown and distributed on Vancouver Island.

Development, zoning, urban agriculture, community gardens, emergency food supply, feeding the hungry, increasing populations, the economy, and municipal policies are all combining factors affecting the conversation on food.

Crystal Dennison, executive director of Nanaimo Food Share, a non-profit organization with a mandate of ensuring people have access to the nutrition they need, said she is excited to begin the process and is keen to see what other people and organizations bring to the table.

“We’ve been looking at other communities for a while that have a food charter in place and it’s good Nanaimo is willing to get on board and actually look at the needs of our community,” she said. “Creating a food strategy will not only develop better food systems, it will provide validity to the work we’re doing.”

Nanaimo Food Share offers programs that encourage cooking and gardening. It also offers programs like Good Food Box, Farm 2 School, gleaning, and Seedy Sunday, an event which drew more than 700 people last week.

A food charter is a municipal vision of what food sustainability looks like down the road. Dennison said all the pieces are potentially in place to develop Nanaimo as a food hub, but communication and a unified strategy are needed to create a sustainable system that will provide food growers with avenues to sell their products, efficient distribution and more options for consumers.

“When there is an actual strategy, we can refer back to it when we’re looking for funders, when we’re looking for outside organizations for support or to partner with other groups, it’s a concerted effort,” said Dennison.

The food strategy policy Nanaimo develops will likely work to complement Nanaimo Regional District’s Agricultural Area Plan, which was adopted in October. That plan centres around eight objectives, including protecting and enhancing the Agricultural Land Base, strengthening the local agricultural economy, and improving training, skills and labour opportunities in the RDN.

Jensen said the first draft of the strategy is expected to be completed by the end of April.

Just Posted

Douglas Holmes, current Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District chief administrative officer, is set to take on that position at the Regional District of Nanaimo come late August. (Submitted photo)
Regional District of Nanaimo’s next CAO keen to work on building partnerships

Douglas Holmes to take over top administrator role with RDN this summer

Neighbours fight a small late-night bush fire with garden hoses and shovels in Cinnabar Valley on June 5. They couldn’t get help from local fire services because the fire was located in an area under B.C. Wildfire Services jurisdiction. (Photo courtesy Muriel Wells)
Nanaimo residents on edge of city limits left to put out bush fire themselves

Cinnabar Valley residents tackle fire with hoses and buckets for two and a half hours

Nanaimo artist Dave Stevens is displaying paintings inspired by arbutus trees and the Millstone River at Nanaimo Harbourfront Library from now until the end of fall. (Josef Jacobson/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo writer and artist’s work goes up at Harbourfront library

Dave Stevens presents work inspired by arbutus trees and the Millstone River

The courthouse in Nanaimo. (News Bulletin file)
Nanaimo man, already in jail, found guilty of sexual abuse of sons

Man previously sentenced for sexual interference involving girl in Nanaimo

Stuffed toys, many with donations pinned to them, are piled in the Lions Pavilion at Maffeo Sutton Park at a vigil May 31 honouring the 215 Indigenous children whose remains were discovered outside a residential school in Kamloops. (News Bulletin file photo)
Thousands donated to child and family service agency following Nanaimo vigil

Toys and money donated to Kw’umut Lelum child and family services

Members of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Marine Mammal Response Program rescued an adult humpback what that was entangled in commercial fishing gear in the waters off of Entrance Island on Thursday, June 10. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Response Program)
Rescuers free humpback ‘anchored’ down by prawn traps near Nanaimo

Department of Fisheries and Oceans responders spend hours untangling whale

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

The Queen Victoria statue at the B.C. legislature was splattered with what looks like red paint on Friday. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Queen Victoria statue at B.C. legislature vandalized Friday

Statue splattered with red paint by old growth forest proponents

Police cars are seen parked outside Vancouver Police Department headquarters on Saturday, January 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver police officer charged with assault during an arrest in 2019

The service has released no other details about the allegations

Denmark’s Christian Eriksen receives medical attention after collapsing during the Euro 2020 soccer championship group B match between Denmark and Finland at Parken stadium in Copenhagen, Saturday, June 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, Pool)
Christian Eriksen in stable condition, Euro 2020 match resumes

Eriksen was given chest compressions after collapsing on the field during a European Championship

As stories of the horrors of residential schools circulate after the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation announced it had located what are believed to be the remains of 215 children, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said he feels a connection with the former students. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
2 sides of the same coin: Ex-foster kids identify with residential school survivors

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip says the child welfare system takes Indigenous children from their families

Nathan Watts, a member of the Tseshaht First Nation near Port Alberni, shares his story of substance use, a perspective he said isn’t seen enough. (Photo courtesy of Nathan Watts)
Public shaming, hate perpetuates further substance use: UVic researcher

Longtime addict Nathan Watts offers a user’s perspective on substance use

57-year-old Kathleen Richardson was discovered deceased in her home Wednesday, June 9, 2021. Her death is considered a homicide and connected to the slain brothers found on a Naramata forest road. (Submitted)
Condolences pour in for Kathy Richardson, Naramata’s 3rd homicide victim in recent weeks

Richardson was well liked in the community, a volunteer firefighter with a home-based salon

Most Read