A Comox Valley organization that aims to increase local food system skills, knowledge and access was recognized last month as a partner of the year by the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets.
LUSH Valley Food Action Society received the award as part of the association’s inaugural virtual conference in February. The awards celebrate the best of B.C. and the individuals and organizations that made exceptional contributions to the B.C. farmers’ market sector in 2020.
“It’s fair to say we are pleasantly surprised,” said James McKerricher, food access manager for LUSH. “This has been a year of great opportunity on the food security front. The work we have been doing for years has been thrust into the spotlight, and while we’ve had challenges, (the award) is a great marker of the excellent relationship we’ve had with the (Comox Valley Farmers’ Market).
Last year, LUSH was able to use the Comox Valley Curling Club for its Good Food Box program, which began in 2019 as a pilot program, serving 50 people for 10 weeks. There have been more than 10,000 deliveries of boxes so far every other week, with nearly 60 households on the waitlist.
The boxes are “healthy hampers” that contain fresh food and some staple foods. McKerricher explained LUSH works with the market – particularly volunteers in their farm gleaning program.
Following every market, volunteers approach vendors who haven’t sold their product and collect items to be included in the Good Food Boxes. Vendors and farmers are happy to see the food go to a good home, noted McKerricher.
As the organization received some COVID-19 relief funding, they are able to provide some funds to the farmers as they collect the goods.
“We have a budget and we’re able to put some money back into farmers’ pockets.”
For a list of all of the award winners within the province, visit bcfarmersmarket.org.