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Richmond farm group advocates for local food hub

Richmond council is currently updating the city's farming strategy.
farming
File photo

A farming advocacy group is asking Richmond city council to consider creating a food hub where farmers could process their produce to make value-added products.

Council is updating the city’s farming strategy, and Richmond FarmWatch, an agricultural advocacy group, suggested council start exploring creating a facility that could be used by farmers – or other food processors like bakers – to increase the value of their products and allow them to sell them commercially.

Laura Gillanders, speaking on behalf of Richmond Farm Watch, said there’s a “great need” to get facilities where farmers can process the food they grow.

“People love to use those phrases, buy local, eat local, support your local farmer, but without licenced food processing facilities, farmers don’t have a way to get value-added products to the market,” Gillanders told Richmond’s planning committee on Wednesday.

The province launched a pilot project, called B.C. Food Hub Network, about three years ago, creating food processing facilities, for example, in Vancouver and Surrey.

Food hubs have equipment for processing food, shared kitchen and office spaces, storage and distribution facilities and packaging equipment.

In a submission to council, Richmond FarmWatch initially suggested locating a food hub on the Garden City Lands, but Gillanders said parking might be limited at that site.

She suggested, at Wednesday’s planning meeting, that council direct staff to look for a possible food hub location in Richmond.

Coun. Harold Steves said there has been talk of creating a food hub with the Steveston Harbour Authority, in conjunction with the fishing industry.