Food Businesses

Starting a new business can be overwhelming at times, but there is support to help you bring your food product to the public. There are a lot of supports for businesses within the East Kootenays to make sure your food business grows and thrives. Some of them are mentioned below, or download this resource sheet to find a more detailed list of supports. 

Nyree Marsh (nmarsh@futures.bc.ca) is the Agriculture Business Advisor with Community Futures Central Kootenay and provides free, confidential, one-to-one business advice to food and agriculture businesses in the Columbia Basin region. She is a wealth of information and can offer you tailored advice and support for your food business.

The BC Association of Farmers’ Markets has a great list of resources, including a database of funding opportunities for BC food producers.

 

If you are based in the Columbia Valley, Columbia Valley Food & Farm is there to support the region’s growers and makers. Be a part of their annual local food guide to promote your business. Email Chelsea Girimonte for more information: foodandfarm@cvchamber.ca

 

Are you a farmer or primary producer?
The Kootenay & Boundary Farm Advisors help with practical information for producers with regards to science and agriculture. If you need support on the “science of farming” then get in touch.

 

Young Agrarians are a farmer-to-farmer educational resource network for new and young ecological, organic and regenerative farmers in Canada. They provide a wealth of information and support for new farmers.

 

Columbia Basin Trust have the Basin Food Producer Wage Subsidy Program that provides support to primary food producers in the Columbia Basin to hire employees as needed throughout the 2022 growing and harvesting season.

Photo credit: BC Farmers Market Trail & Bruno Long

Farmers’ Markets

Starting as a vendor at a Farmers’ Market is a great way to begin your business journey as they are a low-risk entry point into the marketplace.

A photo of a sign that reads Farmers Market placed in front of a farmers market
Photo Credit: BC Farmers Market Trail & Bruno Long

    Farmers’ Markets are a safe space to:
  • Explore and test ideas with real customers – You can gauge product marketability and get valuable feedback on your products directly from consumers. This real-time feedback allows you to experiment with what works… and what doesn’t!
  • Network and share knowledge – Connect with your peers and ask for or offer support. Have questions about packaging? Pricing? A new pest you’re seeing in your field? Other vendors at the market are a great resource for sharing knowledge and processes.
  • Build business relationships – Aside from connecting with other vendors and individual customers, farmers’ markets are an opportunity to connect with wholesale buyers and restaurants. Other businesses often come to markets to test products and seek opportunities to source directly for their own retail or distribution.
  • Scale up – After you have built some relationships and dialed in your product and offerings, farmers’ markets can then be a springboard for scaling up. This could mean increasing production, hiring employees, accessing financing, or launching other revenue streams, such as an online or brick and mortar shop.

There are a wide range of farmers’ markets across the East Kootenay region. Check out those that are part of the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets (BCAFM) or contact your local Chamber of Commerce to find other markets that operate in your community.

The Hatch + Hype program from BCAFM is running at five Farmers Markets across the East Kootenay and it aims to bring focus to new BC farm and food products from both existing and new vendors. Contact your market manager at Golden, Agri-Park Windermere, Kimberley, Cranbrook or Fernie to find out how to take advantage of this program.

A photo of a few people walking through the Farmers Market in Kimberley BC
Photo Credit: BC Farmers Market Trail & Anice Wong