Good Food Summit nourishes Island connections

Good Food Summit on the menu for Nov. 16 and 17 at Songhees Wellness Centre

By Linda Geggie

For the Saanich News

Local Flavour touches on what is happening around food in Saanich from seed to plate and in between. You might think that having to find something to write about every two weeks would be challenging. Let me assure you that there is no end to interest and initiative around food.

I am always interested in hearing from you about things that you would like to hear about or know about, so please send them my way. This week I want to focus on an annual event that brings it all together, the Big Kahuna gathering of folks of all sorts working on food, health and sustainability, the Good Food Summit.

This summit, Nov. 16 and 17 at the Songhees Wellness Centre, is hosted by the Good Food Network as a way to build skills, connections and scale up our collective impact on the food system.

The big goals are to ensure that not only is food produced and distributed in ways that are good for the planet, but also create viable employment for the producers, from those that grow our food to those that make it, distribute it and sell it. Residents in the CRD should have access to healthy food, and that good food is a fundamental building block to a quality of life.

There is a dense amount of scientific research that confirms that the better we eat, the better our health, and our ability to learn and work. Across cultures food is also an important part of familial, cultural and religious practices that enrich our lives. The Good Food Network is a growing network of groups, community organizations, planners, government decision makers, health promoters, educators, researchers and producers who are paying attention to, and working in a broad range of initiatives towards these goals. The theme this year is Nourishing Island Connections and we are teaming up with co-hosts the Victoria Foundation and Island Health and the eight Island food hubs to infuse the discussion with perspectives from across Vancouver Island.

A sampling of sessions shows the diversity of approaches and what is in store at the conference. On Thursday you can learn about the Island Pollinator Initiative and the important role that pollinators play in relation to food, as well as the actions being taken by individuals, farmers and land managers to promote their health.

Sessions are also offered looking at “Closing the Supply Gap” by increasing local produce in grocery stores and institutions,. Another workshop looks specifically at the role of restaurants and the supply chain. We also explore strategies to promote healthy school food environments, as well as how we increase our skills as organizations to influence policy and provide tools for productive community engagement and how to infuse better science into our health and nutrition programs.

On Friday there is lots more in store with looking at food as medicine and a talk on the revitalization of indigenous foods by a roundtable of elders and community nutritionists,. There will also be a session focused on youth and the role of students in cultivating food literacy. Craig Evans will be on hand to unpack the Five Acre Farm Project, a market garden and commercial seed production initiative in Nanaimo that provides training for people with diverse abilities.

This is just a sampling of what is on offer, there will be much more including a show and share fair as well as lots of eating and celebrating good food.

Jasmine Robertson, the conference co-ordinator, let me know that registration is filling up.

“I am excited to have so many youth and students attending, many of whom were at the first-ever Youth Food Conference in October. The Good Food Summit is unique in that it emphasizes collaboration across sectors and highlights the incredible teamwork that is leading to positive changes in our region.”

Registration closes Nov. 9 at midnight, so don’t hesitate. I can guarantee whatever your interest in food you will find a connection at the Good Food Summit. The full program and registration details can be found at www.crfair.ca.

Linda Geggie is the executive director with the Capital Region Food and Agriculture Initiatives Roundtable.

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