The province is shelling out green to encourage ‘green-thumbs’. Grow Local is pilot program that is providing $250,000 in funding to 10 communities for projects that promote local food production.
“The program wants to accomplish both goals of improving awareness of where food comes from by doing workshops and seminars,” says the Minister of Agriculture, Norm Letnick, “but also through the process of growing their own food it will increase food security.”
The Prince George Public Interest Research Group Society (PGPIRG) is receiving $25,000 dollars for it’s Grow North project. PGPIRG will be partnering with the UNBC Green Centre, the David Douglas Botanical Society, the Prince George Good Food Box Program, as well as the Growing Community Garden.
An open house will be held at UNBC at the end of February to launch the project. “Then right in March we are going to get going,” says the Executive Director of the PGPIRG, Serena Black. “We are going to teach them [Prince George residents] how to build cold frames, how to get transplants started…and as we go further into summer we will talk about solid nutrition and some crash-courses on how to grow garlic.”
Black says there is an increasing number of young people interested in growing their own food. She is hoping the 2-year project will help break down perceived barriers of growing at home. “We are limited by our climate, but there is actually huge potential and the north is full of really innovative entrepreneurs— or ‘agri-preneurs’.”
According to Minister Letnick, 2016 was a record year for agriculture. “We had a record year last year in agri-food recipts; over $13 billion. A record year in profits, with profits of over $440 million in gross proceeds, and we also had a record year in exports; $13.5 billion. We had a record year in employment. Almost 6000 more people were employed directly in agri-foods than the year before.”
“If you eat you are involved in agriculture, that’s what it comes down to,” says Black. ” I always like to tell people if you have eaten today you should really thank a farmer. They are kind of the unsung hero. They are the backbone to our culture.”