A new Fraser Valley “food hub” has been announced in Abbotsford to provide advice and support for those wanting to set up and operate food-related businesses.
The project will be located at 2570 Cyril St. in the former site of the Abbotsford District Teachers’ Association.
The provincial government is providing up to $750,000 to purchase food-processing equipment and to cover other startup costs in partnership with the City of Mission and the Mission Community Skills Centre (MCSC) Society, which are developing the hub.
Another $999,450 in provincial funding will go towards retrofitting and upgrading the building.
MCSC executive director Stephen Evans said it’s not yet known when the hub will be fully operational, but it’s hoped that the shared kitchen will be up and running by the fall.
He said the project will include a tasting kitchen and links to resources to help with all types of ag-food businesses and skills training. The types of businesses the hub will support include food services, restaurants, retail, catering, manufacturing and processing.
One of the local businesses planning to use the new food hub is Abbotsford’s Field House Brewing, owned and operated since 2016 by Josh Vanderheide.
The brewery includes an eatery that sources many of its ingredients from local farms and businesses, and produces its own grain used in many Field House beers.
Vanderheide hopes to use the shared kitchen and support resources to continue to grow his business.
“As a local entrepreneur involved in our food community, we are very excited to hear about the development of a regional food hub,” Vanderheide said.
“We see a growing need for additional shared kitchen space and resources for value-added processing. This food hub will be a key component of building a more resilient and thriving food ecosystem in the Fraser Valley.”
Abbotsford-Mission MLA Pam Alexis said the project will support small-business owners with the resources they need “to build on their ideas leading to a stronger food supply for all British Columbians.”
“The Fraser Valley is home to a rich agricultural history, thanks to the hard-working people that live here,” she said. “As our agricultural community continues to grow, so do the ideas that people bring to the table to innovate our food.”
Three food hubs are already operating in Vancouver, Surrey and Port Alberni, with additional hubs opening later this year in Quesnel and Salmon Arm.
A total of $5.6 million through StrongerBC: BC’s Economic Recovery Plan has been earmarked for the expansion of the BC Food Hub Network.