Kato de Graaf, left, Odin Steif and Hayden Steif with Maizy share some smiles during one of the Bella Coola Foodshed Alliance events. (Sarah Stroh photo)

Renamed Bella Coola Foodshed Alliance looks to a bright future

Board decided to pick a name best reflecting society’s mission

Elizabeth Howard

Special to Coast Mountain News

After 18 years as the Bella Coola Valley Sustainable Agricultural Society, the current board of directors has decided to take on a name that is in better alignment with the society’s mission which is to support community connections, local capacity, and innovation to grow, harvest, process and store food resources, including agricultural products, fish and wild foods. The society is now known as the Bella Coola Foodshed Alliance.

A “foodshed” is defined as the geographic location that produces the food for a particular population. The term describes a region where food flows from the area that it is produced to the place where it is consumed, including the land it grows on, the route it travels, the markets it passes through, and the tables it ends up on. The Bella Coola Foodshed, then, is the flow of local food from our gardens and fields, ocean and forest, to our plates, and beyond to our food waste management.

The past two years of the pandemic and extreme weather events have raised awareness of the vulnerability of the global food system. It is becoming increasingly clear that local food systems are key in building resilience to minimize disruptions in the food supply chain.

The BCFA has received federal, provincial and local funding this past year to increase food security infrastructure. The funding has been put toward Community Harvest, our gleaning program and the Farmers’ Market. A grant from the BC Farmers’ Market Association was used to brighten up the market venue for vendors and customers alike. The funds were also used to increase the market’s capacity to safely store food products for sale with the addition of a freezer and a refrigerator.

This is the BCFA’s second year managing the Bella Coola Farmers’ Market. The market was started and managed by the Farmers’ Institute for many years. The Institute knew the importance of not only supporting farmers and local food production but also of providing a place for the community to gather.

The 2022 market season started slowly due to the cold and wet Spring. But summer brought the tourists and locals in droves to buy coffee and a cinnamon bun, bread and muffins, candles and soap, quilts and jewelry, honey and crafts of all sorts. Most importantly for a farmers’ market, there were four new produce vendors this year who offered fresh, local vegetables and fruit for sale.

Special farmers’ market events were added this year, including an opening day Pancake Breakfast, Kids’ Day and Apple Day, which celebrated the native and heritage varieties of apples available in the valley.

We ended a tremendous season with a Fall Harvest event. Borscht soup, prepared with local vegetables, was dished out and Maizy, our beautiful scarecrow greeted everyone at the door. And our littlest busker, Isis Ford, filled the Quonset hut with beautiful music, as she did all season.

There are so many people who make the Bella Coola Farmers’ Market a success. The Foodshed Alliance sends out thanks to all the volunteers, vendors and customers who helped make this year so much fun. See you all in 2023!

Elizabeth Howard is a member of the Bella Coola Foodshed Alliance

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Ted Campbell and Neil McLachlan serving up borscht during the Fall Harvest Event. (Elizabeth Howard photo)

Ted Campbell and Neil McLachlan serving up borscht during the Fall Harvest Event. (Elizabeth Howard photo)

Isis Ford fills the hall with beautiful music during the Fall Harvest event. (Elizabeth Howard photo)

Isis Ford fills the hall with beautiful music during the Fall Harvest event. (Elizabeth Howard photo)

Gwyneth Anderson, Wildway Farm Co. with her items at the market. (Elizabeth Howard photo)

Gwyneth Anderson, Wildway Farm Co. with her items at the market. (Elizabeth Howard photo)