By Chelsea Matheison

I’ve always known that, on some level, local food sustainability was important, but until recently, it was never a forefront issue in my mind. I guess I just took it for granted. Growing up in Nelson as a child, I had a daily relationship with my garden. I planted seeds, collected bugs, and ate dirt. One year, I ate every last strawberry in the garden before they were ripe. Food was always there.

It wasn’t until years later that I began to realize life is not like that for everyone. I think there is a growing disconnect between people and the origins of our food. This summer, working directly with local farmers at the EcoSociety’s Downtown and Cottonwood Markets as the EcoSociety’s summer student, I’m reminded how important it is to stay connected with the food we eat, and support sustainable farming practices. “Feed the soil, not the plant,” one farmer told me. “Feeding the plant is easy: fertilizers deliver big successful crops at first, but over time your soil becomes depleted, and eventually nothing will grow. Feeding the soil is more complex: it takes years to build, and a lifetime to maintain. If you feed you soil, it will feed you forever.”

Over the past few months, the Kootenays have been a hub for local food sustainability chatter and actions. In June, the MP for Kootenay Columbia, Wayne Stetski, tabled a bill to establish a National Local Food Day, and in July, the Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK), Community Futures Central Kootenay, and the BC Food Systems Network announced the launch of a joint project to create a regional Food Policy Council for the Central Kootenay. While these initiatives have the potential to affect residents throughout the Kootenay region, residents may not have a direct voice in locally food sustainability.

We want to bridge that gap. The summer Foodie Film Festival will feature a series of 12 short films on sustainable food and farming to spark conversation and inspire solutions. After the films, local food community leaders will take part in a panel discussion about their organizations’ work on local food security, and talk about their sustainable vision for the future of agriculture and farmland in the West Kootenays. In the days following the Film Festival, come and join us at public meetings to discuss concerns and solutions around local agriculture, food security, and preserving farmland.

Attend one of our events, and help us form a sustainable food vision for the West Kootenays:

Thursday, August 11
7:00pm – 8:30pm

Rossland Museum and Discovery Centre
Follow-up community meeting will be held at the same time and location on Monday, August 16

Tuesday, August 16
Castlegar United Church
7:00pm – 8:30pm

Follow-up community meeting will be held at the same time and location on Thursday, August 18