What is the food corridor and incubator kitchen?

Word is on the street and the groundwork has begun for the Columbia Valley Food Corridor Association.

Word is on the street and the groundwork has begun for the Columbia Valley Food Corridor Association. What’s all the buzz about and what exactly is this?

A group of food producers and volunteers from the Columbia Valley area have come together to form a group called the Columbia Valley Food Corridor Association. They are interested in economic development of the local food sector in our region and are currently looking into the feasibility of establishing a food business incubator, including a shared-use commercial kitchen and business development support for food entrepreneurs.

Between changes happening to the local economy, Interior Health regulations and what appears to be an emergence of culinary tourism in our area, the Food Corridor concept would provide support to food-related developments by providing a shared-use commercial kitchen where anyone can rent to cook food for large public gatherings (like the Spilli Chilli Cook-off, local festivals, farmers markets) and assist new and upcoming local food business. This concept has been proven successful under excellent management to a point where some incubators within North America have a two-year wait list.

Currently there is no such undertaking in the Kootenays allowing for potential use of this facility by users from our valley and other nearby communities. There is potential for a spin-off of employment opportunities, a food business think tank, a stronger focus on local producers who put food on our tables and a creative twist on local tourism. We already have a fantastic food experience here and now that is ready to be promoted and shared. You can visit a coffee roaster, brewery, honey producer, organic farm, take a cooking class, visit a greenhouse, bake a pizza in a wood fired oven, buy your meal at a fabulous farmers market that has been grown or made here in Columbia Valley.

Another side of this concept is for aspiring food entrepreneurs who have a great food idea but have no idea how to do it. An incubator kitchen could provide staff on-hand to provide all the information to make dreams come true with low start-up costs.

As part of the feasibility research the Columbia Valley Food Corridor Association has created a short survey for Food Businesses in the East Kootenay region. To participate on this survey, please go to www.surveymonkey.com/s/EKFoodBusiness .

The project is also seeking aspiring and current food business entrepreneurs to participate in focus groups. Interested businesses may contact brightwell.gerri@gmail.com .

The Columbia Valley Food Corridor Association appreciates the positive enthusiasm and support for the project, and gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the Regional District of East Kootenay and Columbia Basin Trust which supports efforts to deliver social, economic and environmental benefits to the residents of the Columbia Basin.

Watch out for future updates from this association in the coming months.

— Submitted by members of the Columbia Valley Food Corridor Association