The Okanagan Food and Innovation Hub (OFIH) is a project that connects agri-food businesses; post-secondary, innovation and research institutions; local and First Nations governments and other players along the agricultural food chain. This collaborative Hub is dedicated to growing the local agri-food economy by encouraging value-added processes and support services. This project will connect local farmers/entrepreneurs to the right resources for development, successful commercialization, and scaling-up their food products by providing a commercial kitchen with specialized equipment and integrated services.
On March 14, 2022, a Committee of the Whole meeting was held regarding the Okanagan Food and Innovation Hub Business Plan. The link to this meeting recording can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bMKpYUqWo3c.
- A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed by all three project partners: the District of Summerland, Community Futures Okanagan-Similkameen, and Okanagan Crush Pad.
- The District of Summerland is currently looking for grant funding opportunities for the Okanagan Food and Innovation Hub at 26405 Garnet Valley Road
Additional information and the Hub's business plan can be found here: OFIH Business Plan
With the creation of the Okanagan Food and Innovation Hub, there are several goals that are being targeted for the local community. These include:
- Strengthening Regional Food Producers: The Hub will help farmers to develop new value-added products, increase their growing capacity, and access new channels to expand their market reach.
- Improving Regional Food System Security: The security of our local food system is under threat from crops being culled due to weather conditions, and fierce competition from the US and other importers. Food security will be increased by helping producers transition to value-added products and new markets, both local and for export.
- Agri-Tourism: Agri-Tourism in the Thompson-Okanagan region attracts an estimated 3.5 million visitors per year, mostly to wineries. This sector is underdeveloped in other categories, such as culinary tourism and indigenous agri-tourism. The Hub will encourage the development of value-added artisan food products to support the culinary tourism sector.
The Kwantlen Polytechnic University Institute of Sustainable Food Systems (ISFS) has completed a number of studies on the Okanagan Bioregion Food System and how local governments within the Okanagan can support the regional food system through planning, policy, and support for value added production opportunities (such as the Okanagan Food and Innovation Hub). For further information please visit ISFS report webpages and the associated policy briefs for their research below.
Report on Okanagan Bioregion Food System Project
Research Brief - Food Policy Assessment in the Okanagan Bioregion