The B.C. Ministry of Agriculture reprised last year’s Every Chef Needs a Farmer, Every Farmer Needs a Chef marketing event earlier this month.
This year’s event was 50 per cent larger, with more than 425 registrants, but the question of where to put all the food everyone was talking about remained.
While farmers want chefs to put their money where their mouths are, buying the local food they champion, there are challenges putting that food where the chefs are.
“A lot of them are struggling with space to store product,” grower Kevin Klippenstein told last year’s conference, noting he travels from Cawston to Vancouver twice a week during the summer to deliver produce.
This year’s conference sought to answer the question, assembling a panel to discuss how to give small-scale producers access to distribution across the province.
The province’s vision for a network of food hubs, which sometimes serve as aggregation and distribution facilities, is seen as a potential solution in regions such as the Cariboo and the Kootenays.
A hub is being funded for Quesnel, and a network of hubs is being studied in the Kootenays.
“There’s not any sort of centralized distribution or centralized cold storage or those types of things for farmers … so they really need to have their own,” Amy Quarry, owner of Long Table Grocery in Quesnel, said.
She acknowledged that the food hub announced for Quesnel could help, but the need is great.
“In our region, it’s a huge challenge,” she said.