The Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District (ACRD) has received a $25,000 grant for a Grow Local program from the Investment Agriculture Foundation.
The “What’s on Your Fork?” project will increase horticultural knowledge and food production within the regional district by offering Alberni Valley residents and students garden tours, consultation sessions, and hands-on learning opportunities.
The project will have outreach programs in Tofino, Ucluelet, Bamfield and offshore First Nations communities, as well as region-wide radio and social media-based tips and tools.
The $25,000 will be spent on the programs over a two-year period that Heather Shobe, the regional district’s agricultural support worker, said will begin in the spring.
“There’s a number of events happening…we’re really excited,” Shobe said.
“There’s a garden design workshop, a consultation, right in someone’s yard, we’ll have edible garden tours and educational events at Healthy Harvest Farm [on Beaver Creek Road] for the public.”
Youth education days will also take place for students in School District 70.
The projects are designed to involve residents in growing local fruit and vegetables, increase awareness and appreciation for supporting local food production and strengthen local food supply security.
The 10 projects include the developing resources on how to grow local food, group education and awareness activities, such as workshops, mini-courses, and “how-to” demonstrations, and one-on-one consultation and advice.
Shobe added that during the Alberni District Fall Fair, consultation booths will be set up with community experts to answer garden questions.
A calendar will be made in the next couple weeks to highlight exactly what and when events are happening.
The ACRD’s Agriculture Plan targets 40 per cent food security by the year 2031. While the regional district has been proactive in supporting agricultural programs and projects, the Grow Local program offers an additional opportunity to strengthen food supply security.
“With the help of this initiative, we can support a wider range of residents in contributing to local food security,” said Alex Dyer, ACRD planner, in a Jan. 30 press release. “The program will connect with residents from across the region through a network of educators and specialists to further cultivate our capacity to grow our own food.”
Feedback and suggestions about the Grow Local program can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org
The announcement comes just as the Alberni Valley prepares to host the Island Agriculture Show on Feb. 3 and 4.
“[The Island Agriculture Show] is the second largest agriculture show in the province,” Shobe said. “It will allow us to showcase what our region has to offer. Agriculture is a huge industry here.”
The show brings together farmers, rural landowners, farm organizations equipment dealers, service providers and the general public and will be held at the Alberni Valley Fall Fair Grounds.
The show opens at 8:30 a.m. both days and a full conference schedule can be found at www.iashow.ca.