Fresh local food goal of new Farms to Friends program

Everyone deserves to be healthy. That’s the starting point for Farms to Friends, a new program this summer bringing local organic produce to low income families and seniors in the West Kootenays.

Food security is one of the pillars of West Kootenay EcoSociety’s work, and the idea and funding for Farms to Friends came together quickly for a project that everyone involved is calling a win-win.

It is a really fulfilling project for everyone. We’re working with three local, organic farms to bring weekly deliveries of their produce to 54 low income families in the region. The farmers are stoked to be part of this, the families who are receiving the food are so appreciative, and the volunteers who are helping us deliver it are enthusiastic about it.

We had an immediate response from organizations in several communities to help us connect with their most vulnerable people who would benefit most from the delivery of healthy, quality produce. That’s the goal of Farms to Friends, connecting the people most in need, especially during Covid-19, with a reliable source of healthy food.

EcoSociety was able to hire back former markets coordinator Craig Mullin to lead Farms to Friends, and his well-established relationship with the farmers and safety protocols were instrumental in getting the program running quickly.

Craig and EcoSociety staff member Matthew Brown pick up the food at the farms, distribute it to volunteers in each community who then deliver it to the families with no contact and social distancing protocols.

Andrew O’Kane is one of the volunteers in Trail who helps deliver the bags of produce each week.

“I like it that we are supporting local organic growers by purchasing their produce for four months straight. It’s been great delivering the bags of vegetables, just getting out there and seeing people, and also because although they all know I’ll be coming, they are all pleasantly surprised when I arrive every Thursday afternoon,” O’Kane says. “It’s a really practical example of supporting food security in the Kootenays from producer to consumer.”

Farms to Friends will run for 16 weeks this year. The project is made possible with support from foundations and local businesses in the West Kootenays and Lower Mainland. See a full list of sponsors is available here. People, businesses and organizations can also sponsor a family if they want to be part of Farms to Friends.