Regional Food Systems Expo 2011


The Regional Food Systems Expo, held October 17, 2011 in Prince George, was our first attempt at bringing all the players in the region’s food system together under one roof, and it was a resounding success! More than 80 participants packed into the Civic Centre facilities to learn about new opportunities, discuss challenges, and most importantly, to meet each other.

In the new year, we hope to continue the success of the Food Systems Expo by hosting the event in other communities. We hope you will join us when we come to your town in spring 2012. If you would like to get involved in the planning of an event in your local community, please contact us.


Session Information


Aimee Watson, Kaslo Food Secure

Download Aimee’s Presentation (8.7 MB)

Aimee’s roots are deep in the organic muck of several cooperative farms in the Lower Mainland of B.C and were cultivated further with time spent in organizations such as Organic Friends of the Future, GE Free BC and Farm Folk City Folk. In 2006, Aimee discovered paradise and true potential for a sustainable food system in the rural community of Kaslo, BC. There she has conducted a food assessment of the North Kootenay Lake Region, helped to initiate the Kaslo Food Security Project, completed her first year of Food Security studies at Ryerson University, been a member of the Climate Change Adaptation Steering Committee, the Regional District Central Kootenay Agricultural Plan, the Regional Food Council for the West Kootenay, and a director for the Kootenay Local Agricultural Society. In her spare time, Aimee is mom to two year old Fynnigan, grows her own organic produce and eggs on her Village Farm, and just recently purchased a small acreage she is preparing for production.

Presentation Summary: In 2006, the Kaslo Food Security Project was born out of the demand from local consumers to assess the viability of increasing the amount and availability of local food. Over the past 5 years we have developed various educational events and the Kaslo Food Charter, established farmland and food databases, and most recently we opened the doors to the Kaslo Food Hub: a community food center that offers a variety of programs aimed at increasing our local food capacity. The Kaslo Food Hub is home to: a non-barrier food cupboard; a farm direct bulk buying club; a  community root cellar; a  tool library; a food resource library; a community kitchen program; the Feeding Families Not Bears program.

From early on, we were aware of how important our farmers are to achieve food security. The Kaslo Food Hub is inspired and modeled after our regions historical Farmers Institutes, but with a modern twist to accommodate the impacts of the global food system that dominates our plates.

With our presentation, we will walk participants through how the Kaslo Food Hub was created and share our lessons learned in creating a more sustainable, viable, egalitarian local food system.


Food & You Information Series

Download Neelam and Paula’s Presentation (4.9 MB)

Presented by Neelam Parmar and Paula Tait, Environmental Health, Northern Health

Are you interested in small-scale distribution and good agricultural practices?

Do you want to increase your food safety knowledge of the products you sell?

Would you like to learn about ensuring safe drinking water quality?

Attend the Food & You Information Session to learn more about these topic areas available through Northern Health and how they can benefit you as a food producer or processor.

Good Agricultural Practices Workshop –get information on this workshop that will be offered in early spring of next year in Prince George.  Learn how the Good Agricultural Practices Self-Assessment can help you increase your small scale distribution.

Learn more about the following courses offered through Northern Health and register for upcoming courses:

MarketSafe -For market managers, vendors and future vendors who plan to make, bake, or grow products to sell at farmers’ markets, farm gates, or other types of temporary food markets.

SlaughterSafe –a mandatory requirement for all Class D and E applicants and all individuals providing slaughter services to license holders under a Class D or E license.  SlaughterSafe is part of a larger provincial government initiative to promote food safety and food security regarding livestock and meat production in remote communities.

Drinking Water Course for Small Water Systems –For those who would like to know more about water systems and how to know when drinking water is safe to use.


Selling at BC Farmers’ Markets

Download David and Chris’s Presentation (1.1MB)

Presented by Dr. David Connell and Chris Hergesheimer

Farmers markets have proven to be a successful marketing channel that directly links farmers and customers who are keen to buy food grown in BC. However, the reality is that farmers’ markets are not for every farmer.  What works for one farmer may not work for another.  The “Selling at BC’s Farmers’ Markets” series provides details about who is selling at farmers’ markets and what farmers’ markets have to offer them.  The series includes profiles of BC’s farmers’ markets, its market customers, and its vendors.  The market vendors are also profiled for each of the following product groups:  vegetable, fruit, fruit & vegetables, and meat.

About Chris: Chris Hergesheimer holds a Masters degree in Sociology from SFU and has worked as a consultant, researcher and project manager for a variety of projects over the last three years. He has attended numerous conferences both as a presenter and as a participant including the Canadian Association of Food Studies (2009) Agriculture and Human Values at Penn State University (2009) and an International Panel conference dealing with issues of Food Sovereignty in Canada and abroad (2010). Chris was also an official delegate of Slow Food Vancouver at the 2010 Terra Madre Gathering in Turin, Italy. Chris is currently working as a Research Associate and consultant for the BC Association of Farmers Markets (BCAFM) building business case materials and delivering workshops to assist with the future planning and strong development of farmers markets in the province. He is the co-author of a number of academic papers and reports about farmers markets, alternative food systems models and governance.

About David: Dr. David Connell is an Associate Professor in the School of Environmental Planning.  Self-described as a social philosopher, he draws upon his varied experiences in community, economic, and business development to understand the world we live in.  David’s research focusses on sustainable communities, with a particular interest in building the capacity of local food systems as a foundation for societal change.  Current research includes agricultural planning, agricultural adaptation to climate change, land use planning, and non-timber uses of the inland rainforest.  Recent research includes a provincial study of the social and economic benefits of farmers markets in BC in Canada.


New Farm Start Up

Download Mark and Brent’s Presentation (4MB)

A Guide to Starting and Growing A Small or Medium Sized Farm Business in British Columbia and An Introduction to Business Advisory Services.

Agriculture provides many opportunities to start and grow a farming enterprise that meets your needs and interest. Many of the medium and large scale farming operations, supporting several families today, started small and grew over time as skills developed, markets were refined and demand for their product increased. It is important to recognize that farming is a good small business.  To provide the best opportunity for success in your farm business, it is important plan!  Business planning is important in guiding where you want your farm to be in 5, 10, 15 years from now!

Mark Robbins, P.Ag.

  • BSc Agri, and MA (Econ) SFU
  • Work for Ministry of Agriculture as Regional Agrologist for 22 years
  • Operate medium size free range poultry farm.

Brent Barclay P.Ag

  • BSc AGR from University of Alberta
  • Worked with the Ministry of Agriculture since 2004
  • Prior to working with Ministry of Agriculture he was involved with the family backgrounding feedlot and cow calf operation.


Greener Futures: The Business Case for Sustainable Foodservice.

Download Andre’s Presentation (5.8 MB)

Presented by André LaRivière, Executive Director of the Green Table Network

To fully maximize the value of local products, and mitigate some of costs and risk inherent in localized food sourcing, restaurant operators need to engage in the entire range of sustainable measures available to them, including all costsaving efficiencies; this presentation uses case studies and ‘best practices’ from Green Table Network members to demonstrate the range of solutions readily applicable to all segments of foodservice.

About André: During his first career at CBC Radio, André created, produced and engineered dozens of projects, from experimental late-night series to Juno award-winning albums to weekly digests of mainstream popular culture. He also accumulated extensive management experience as a departmental executive producer in Montreal and in his hometown of Winnipeg (St-Boniface), along with a stint as a strategic planning specialist at the Corporation’s headquarters in Ottawa. For a second career, André traded his ‘passionate amateur cook’ status for that of professional chef with training at New York City’s French Culinary Institute and a year’s internship at a Michelin-starred restaurant on the French Riviera. After cooking stints in New York and Toronto restaurants, he combined his kitchen and media experience as a Toronto-based writer/editor covering all aspects of the Canadian food and restaurant industries for a variety of trade and consumer magazines.

André and his one-person company Culinary Media relocated to Vancouver in 2000. He has since been a restaurant critic, board member of the Vancouver Farmers’ Markets of the City of Vancouver’s Food Policy Council, and a frequent visitor to neighbourhood hangouts and far-flung hamlets across the country in search of interesting things to eat and cook, bringing him face-to-face with growers, fishers and food industry experts, particularly those promoting sustainable production practices. As a result, André developed an active interest in all aspects of sustainable business and corporate social responsibility, with focus on its implementation within the food and foodservice industry. In 2004, he joined a group of North American journalists on a factfinding tour of leading-edge sustainable business practices in Switzerland, followed by on-site restaurant-specific research in the San Francisco Bay Area.

In 2007, André founded the Green Table Network (GTN), a mission-driven enterprise fostering sustainability in the foodservice industry, with more than 150 operator and supply-side members around British Columbia and beyond. He is also a regular columnist on sustainability issues for the CRFA Magazine and frequent ‘green’ contributor to the CRFA’s In 2011, in collaboration with the CRFA and other industry associations, André and GTN will be expanding their sustainable foodservice solutions to operations from coast to coast.


Collaborative Sessions

These sessions are informal group discussions of some of the hottest topics in the Beyond the Market project. We have invited several key participants with experience and perspective to share their knowledge and facilitate the sessions, but we hope you share your knowledge and questions as well!


Futures Farmers Unite!

Do you dream of starting a farm? Have you already begun to make plans? What is your motivation? What is the biggest barrier you’ve encountered so far? What is the most important lesson you’ve learned? What do you hope to achieve? What resources do you wish you had more of? How do you define success?

About Aimee: Aimee is mom to two year old Fynnigan, grows her own organic produce and eggs on her Village Farm, and just recently purchased a small acreage she is preparing for production.

About Mark: In addition to running his family free range poultry farm, Mark is Professional Agrologist at the Ministry, responsible for working with new farmers, working with local governments on issues related to agriculture and leading  initiatives on small lot/scale farming.

About Spencer: Spencer is the youngest future farmer we’ve met through the Beyond the Market project. He has recently purchased  several acres in Fort Fraser and visions of stone ovens dance in his head. Spencer joins us today to share his greenhorn perspective and his thoughts on collective approaches to farm operations.


The Certified Organic Experience

What does organic mean to you? Why did you decide to become a certified producer? What challenges did you experience along the way? What has been the biggest reward? What advice would you give to others looking to become certified? What do you think the future holds for organic production?

About Garry & Wendy: Garry & Wendy operate an off-grid family farm and produce certified organic and heirloom varieties of vegetables and grains. They are passionate about sustainable farming practices and strive to encourage and mentor the “Next Generation” farmers, to know they can support themselves on five acres of good land, adequate water and sunshine, with little equipment, a couple teams of good heavy horses, and a honest desire as a family to work honorably in partnership with ones environment.

About Heather: Previously certified under the Cariboo Organic Producers Association (COPA), a former affiliate organization of the COABC, Heather grows a large herb garden for teaching and learning purposes.

About Marlene: When Marlene Thimer and her family started Happy Pig Organic Farm in 2008 some people in the farming community were a little skeptical of the potential of an organic livestock operation in this area. Now, the only certified livestock producer along the highway 16 corridor and one of only three certified pork producers in the province of BC, Happy Pig Organic Farm raises 60 pigs, 1000 roasting chickens, and 100 turkeys annually.


Grassroots Growers Groups

Why is there a need for industry-led organizations? Do farmers in the north have access to the networks they need? Where does competition end and cooperation begin? Do farmers even time have time for meetings? How has your group’s visions and goals changed over the years? What opportunities do you see in the future? What resources did you wish you had more of?

About Mark: Mark began a CSA program from his own farm, but in recent years has worked very hard to help write the business case and establish the Groundbreakers Collective, a  social enterprise with a mission to promote the production and consumption of local food at fair value by linking food consumers, producers and social service agencies together to participate in agricultural activities and education in the Bulkley Valley.

About Pete: Pete is a long time farmer and community organizer and a founding member of the Robson Valley Growers’ Group. Despite being one of the eldest members of the Beyond the Market project, he is also one of the most passionate and energetic supporters for healthy local food systems.

About Heloise: In addition to running Moose Meadows Farm with her family, Heloise is President and a founding member of FARMED (North Cariboo Agricultural Marketing Association). She has also been actively involved with the British Columbia Agritourism Alliance, Quesnel Agricultural & Exhibition Association, Quesnel Pony Club, District H Farmers Institute, the Bouchie Lake Recreation Commission, Baker to Bouchie Network, and many other networks.


Local Procurement in the North

Why are you passionate about food service? What kind of local products do you feature on your menu? What has the customer response been? What local products do you wish were more consistently available? What has been the biggest challenge to buying local? What has been most rewarding? What do you hope for in the future?

About Wayne: Wayne is the head chef at Cimo Mediterranean Grill, the #1 restaurant in Prince George according to He is passionate about local food, featuring many seasonal local items on his menu, catering the annual Razzle Dazzle Do event, and even operating his own greenhouse.

About April: As the owner and head chef at Sassafras Savouries Cafe & Catering, April has grown her small business over the past ten years, based on principles of whole food and healthy diets. Her menu items are made from scratch and feature many seasonal local products. Read more about April in the May edition of the Beyond the Market newsletter.

About Kyle: Kyle McIntosh recently moved back to Prince George after working at several high-end bistros in Montreal and Vancouver. His new roll as the Food Services Director at the Northern Undergraduate Student Society provides him with a the complex challenge of feeding hungry students: his food must be nutritious, his food be be creative, and his food must be affordable. Pairing all these challenges with Kyle’s passion for sustainability has helped to shape the menu of the Thirsty Moose Pub. Reda more about Kyle in the May edition of the Beyond the Market newsletter.

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