Supporting our local farmers

The food grown in your and your neighbours’ backyards could soon be for sale at a festival or rec centre near you.
Saanich looks to use municipality’s purchasing power to help local food producers
Kyle Slavin, Saanich News

The Healthy Saanich Advisory Committee is looking to create a food procurement policy that will give priority to local producers when catering is needed for municipal services or events.

“This would give preference to local food producers to use Saanich’s buying power to expand the local food marketplace and hopefully create an example for other municipal agencies, companies and businesses in the region,” said Coun. Dean Murdock, chair of the Healthy Saanich committee.

The short-term goal is to inform vendors interested in selling at festivals like Strawberry Fest or SunFest that preference will be given to local products. Eventually, Murdock hopes to create long-term marketplaces where these local vendors sell their goods at rec centres.

“There are a number of benefits in supporting and purchasing local food,” he said, citing reduced greenhouse gas emissions, fresher, healthier products, and public money spent locally. “This is an opportunity to turn that into a marketplace for local food producers, and keeping our dollars local. Why wouldn’t we invest our dollars in supporting local farmers?”

Buying local produce is a policy the University of Victoria has practised for nearly two decades, and one that the City of Toronto is looking at adopting.

“It’s just what we do. It’s not always realistic or obtainable to shop local. We just try to partner with the community and the Island whenever we can,” said Heather Seymour, manager of production and purchasing for university food services at UVic.

The Healthy Saanich recommendation is expected to come before council in mid-July.