A hub for food initiatives and the development of new value-added products using Salt Spring-grown produce,The Rootwill serve as a centre for education on food security, food safety and value-added processing and will provide access to food-related vocational rehabilitation programs that do not currently exist.
It’s a catalyst for change, designed to support our island’s transition from dependence on unsustainable imported foods to greater reliance on food grown right here at home.
The Root will be a new resource for Salt Spring Island farmers, food producers and the community. TheRoot will be a centrally-located food processing, distribution and storage facility, operated on a break-even basis as an incubator for increased local food production. Our aim is to increase production on Salt Spring by making it easier for local growers to bring their harvest to market, add value to it and connect with consumers on the island and in the surrounding region. A hub for food initiatives and the development of new value-added products using Salt Spring-grown produce, The Root will also serve as a centre for education on food sustainability, food safety and value-added processing and will provide access to food-related vocational rehabilitation programs that do not currently exist.
Although Salt Spring Island is a rural community with a long history of agriculture, only six per cent of the food local residents eat is grown on the Island. As concern over the future availability of cheap imported foods grows, the need to support increased local food production has become obvious.
Innovation & Entrepreneurship
We believe the potential for increased production by Salt Spring Island farmers and small-scale value-added processors is tremendous. A facility designed to transform their great ideas into creative and innovative, high-quality food products will spur increased agricultural production and new opportunities for local entrepreneurs.
Environment and Climate Change
By promoting a shift from almost total dependence on imported food that’s shipped huge distances, we will dramatically reduce the greenhouse gas emissions associated with locally-consumed food while encouraging increased production on Salt Spring’s agricultural land, much of which currently sits unused.
Local Economic Development
Over time, our support of local food production will strengthen Salt Spring Island’s economy, with new farmers and food processors going into business and new collaborations diversifying and enhancing our local economy. While many individual producers will likely be quite small in scale, their combined impact on our local economy could be massive.
What's already been accomplished
In 2012, the Salt Spring Island Farmland Trust Society acquired a 0.6 hectare site at 189 Beddis Road for the The Root. Since then, the FLT has been working with the Salt Spring Island Agricultural Alliance to plan development of the site. All the planning is based on extensive community consultations and collaborations with community organisations that are also working to increase our food security and sovereignty, including Salt Spring Island Community Services Society and Salt Spring Seed Sanctuary. The Farmland Trust owns the land and the facilities that will be built there for the benefit of the community. The site came from a developer – along with a commitment of additional cash and in-kind contributions – as a result of land use decisions by the Agricultural Land Commission and Islands Trust. The Islands Trust approved our development permit amendment in 2015 to match our vision for the project. We have worked with a designer and other professionals to create plans for an efficient, innovative and environmentally responsible 3,000 square foot facility, with a footprint of only 1000 square feet. This new building will house a commercial food processing facility and quality-controlled storage for locally grown farm produce, increasing our local food capacity through 12 months of the year. The facility also contains a caretaker or manager residence. The site plans call for demonstration greenhouses, a honey extraction house, quality controlled seed storage in the existing renovated barn, and permaculture plantings that will assist in reclaiming the site from a brownfield to a productive and sustainable local food hub. Through the use of green building materials, solar panels, water catchment, and electric vehicle charging stations the site adds value to the neighbourhood and to the rural priorities of our community. This food hub is a model for the region and for small to medium-sized communities throughout the province.
What still needs to be done
The need is clear. The support in our community is strong. A plan has been developed. Commitments are in place for land and cash or in-kind contributions valued at approximately 40 per cent of the total project cost. The building permit is in place. A general contractor will be on site this. If you would like make a donation, the Farmland Trust can provide a charitable tax receipt