Saturday, December 2, 2023
December 2, 2023

Food industry experts lead Farmland Trust series workshops


Salt Spring Island Farmland Trust kicked off its new Knowledge Series of community seminars and workshops this past Sunday with an almost two-hour Zoom presentation and Q&A with master gardener Linda Gilkeson, which was attended by almost 100 participants.

Next up on the January schedule are two highly anticipated two-day workshops led by industry experts for those interested in how to create a business plan for, operate, brand and understand the health regulations behind launching a commercial food or beverage business.

“These workshops are perfect for farms looking to add value to their agricultural products through processing, farm stands who want to up their game and small-to-medium-sized food entrepreneurs in any stage of development who want to bring their products to the wider marketplace,” said Sheila Dobie, co-chair of Salt Spring Island Farmland Trust.

“Salt Spring is not only renowned for its farming community, but increasingly for its food culture and food products,” adds Kirsten Bolton, who handles communications and community outreach for the trust. “From artisanal cheeses, organic coffee and cookies to packaged preserves, salt and ciders, there have been many successful food brands emerge from the island that now sell provincially, nationally or across North America. There is a definite appetite here to share Salt Spring’s unique taste of place.”

First up on Jan. 17-18 at Lions Hall is the Ag-Food Business Planning workshop led by Greg McLaren, who claims to have “one foot in a dress shoe, and one in a gumboot.”

McLaren is the managing director and chief strategist of the Vancouver-based market research, brand marketing and business consulting firm FARM FOOD DRINK, which specializes in growing local and regional food economies, producers and farm businesses throughout B.C.

Participants will delve into such topics as components of a food and drink business plan, market channels and distribution, pricing, operation and financial plans.

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The second workshop on Jan. 23-24 at the Salt Spring Island Farmers’ Institute meeting room is BC HACCP Planning for Commercial Food Processing, led by food scientist, food consultant and UBC faculty member Nancy Ross, who has assisted the owners of many micro- and small-scale food processors. Ross also helped design the Commissary Connect Laurel Street facility, which is B.C.’s first regional full-scale food innovation and processing hub.

Her workshop will tackle Canadian and B.C. health regulations, handling, commercial kitchens, labelling, allergies, cross-contamination and ensuring your packaged products are safe.

Courses run from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. each day. Fee is by donation, which can start for as little as $10 with the help of the Rural Dividend Fund and the Small Scale Food Processors Association.

The Farmland Trust stewards the farms and community plots at Burgoyne Community Farm and is launching Salt Spring’s first official food hub The Root, with commercial kitchen, cold storage, seed bank, regenerative gardens, equipment rentals, education and events. Its mission is to help create a more viable, secure, sustainable and prosperous local food community.

People can register for the by-donation workshops at


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