When discussion comes up about Port Alberni’s struggle with its identity, the topic is always tourism vs. heavy industry, with some waterfront politics thrown into the mix. The subject of agriculture rarely comes up.
After last weekend’s Islands Agriculture Show at Glenwood Centre, that’s going to change.
Agriculture is valued in the City of Port Alberni and the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District. Hosting the IAS last weekend served to strengthen partnerships between local stakeholders behind the scenes; the public part of the show brought awareness to both local residents and stakeholders in neighbouring communities that agriculture has an important role, albeit quiet, in the region.
British Columbia Lieutenant-Governor Judith Guichon, a former rancher from the Nicola Valley with experience in sustainable livestock management, said the agriculture industry is becoming more vibrant. She said there is a growing appetite among British Columbians to eat and buy products from closer to home.
This trend should be enlightening to hear, expecially for Vancouver Island growers.
Nearly a decade ago, experts were saying Vancouver Island only has enough produce to sustain its residents for three days in the face of a disaster cutting off access to the Lower Mainland. That statistic hasn’t really changed despite more attention to sustainability, but awareness of food security has. And that’s the first step.