MLA Report: Food security at top of agenda

Food security is an issue that is moving to the top of the agenda, and in communities tremendous amount of good work done on this issue

Food security is an issue that is moving to the top of the agenda for many people, and in the communities I represent I have seen a tremendous amount of good work done on this issue. Whether it is establishing community gardens, developing ways to share local knowledge on food production and preservation, or the considerable increase in opportunities for local food producers to connect directly with local consumers, exciting things are happening in this area.

Revelstoke has been a great example of the work that must be done to improve food security. Revelstoke was an early adopter of a food charter — a document that lays out a specific plan to improve food security in the community — and the plan was recently endorsed by the City of Revelstoke’s mayor and council.

Invermere has always had a strong agricultural community of ranchers, farmers and small-scale growers. The Windermere District Farmers’ Institute and Livestock Association just celebrated its 100th anniversary of incorporation. Invermere is also the home of Groundswell Network Society, which operates the community greenhouse situated alongside David Thompson Secondary School, an incredible project that is a must-see for anyone interested in food production or sustainability.

Golden is seeing its own burgeoning local food culture with the development of a Food Security Co-ordinator, the creation of the Golden Apple Festival, and the soon-to-be annual Edible Garden Tour.

Kimberley has now developed the Open Gate Garden, a community garden right in the heart of the town, and a Share a Tree/Share a Garden program that ensures all food produced is shared and fruit is removed from trees before it becomes an attractant to wildlife.

Food producers from across the East Kootenay region are listed in the East Kootenay Local Food Guide; the fourth of edition of this publication was released last spring. My office was proud to participate in developing the list of Golden food producers, a new addition to this guide.

But as important as these local food activities are, we cannot succeed in our quest for food security without overarching governmental support. Unfortunately, the BC Liberal government does not take this issue seriously. That is why the Opposition, led by Agriculture Critic Lana Popham, convened an Opposition Standing Committee on Agriculture and Food, co-chaired by Independent MLA Vicki Huntington.

I support the work being done by food producers across the province and I believe we must put food security at the very top of the political agenda. And it is clear from your actions that this is an issue that clearly matters to you.

Norm Macdonald is the NDP MLA for Columbia River Revelstoke. He can be reached by phone at 1-866-870-4188 and by email at norm.macdonald.mla@leg.bc.ca.

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