Rossland residents had the chance to give feedback on a proposed Food Charter for the city on Wednesday.
Rachael Roussin and Caley Mulholland are part of the Rossland Sustainability Commission’s Food Security Task Force, which hosted a dinner and movie night at the Old Fire Hall, and facilitated a conversation about food security in Rossland.
Those who attended the event were treated to hot apple cider, nettle lemonade, and fresh borscht and bread prepared by local chef John Premier. While they ate, they were encouraged to discuss and write down their concerns about food security in Rossland and what could be done to make Rossland more food secure. Following the meal, each table shared its ideas with the rest of the group.
Those assembled expressed concerns regarding pollinators, the variety of food available, destroying established ecosystems to plant new, non-indigenous crops, not using enough regional and local resources, the effects of climate change on food production both locally and globally, the cost, availability and quality of food, Rossland’s food resilience, the effects of culture on expectations regarding food, the capacity of existing agricultural lands and use that is being made of agricultural lands, not having control over the source of the majority of our food, and the carbon footprint of our food, among other things.
Participants also had a number of suggestions for how Rossland could become more food secure, including by growing more food locally, improving capacity for storage (i.e. root cellars), making sure the general public is knowledgeable about producing and storing food, developing a regional agricultural food strategy, developing regional resources for agriculture, supporting more backyard gardening, building a community value-added processing facility, and launching more buy local campaigns.
After the group discussion, ideas generated by participants were collected for possible inclusion in the Food Charter.
“The whole idea with asking you these questions over dinner was so that we could compare what you talked about with some of the ideas that we’ve put in the Food Charter already,” explained Mulholland. “And we’re going to amalgamate them all, and see how we can take some of this feedback and incorporate it into the Food Charter.”
Mulholland and Roussin then presented the draft Food Charter to those in attendance.
“What is a Food Charter? It is an aspirational document. It captures the values, the ideas people in our community have around food security,” Mulholland told the crowd.
The Food Charter is essentially a guiding document that will need to be adopted by Rossland’s city council. Council would then refer to the Food Charter when making decisions, much as it does the Official Community Plan (OCP).
“Why do we want a charter? For one, it would be great to have some kind of guiding document that would help planners of the city and council think about how decisions can support food security in Rossland,” said Mulholland. “Also it’s really useful for community groups, such as ourselves, when we’re applying for funding for projects to say, ‘Look, our town has said that we support the concept of food security,’ and so it’s really a signal to people in Rossland that food security is something that matters.”
Mulholland and Roussin will continue to collect feedback on the Food Charter for the next month or so, and will then incorporate recommendations into the charter. It will then be presented to city council for adoption.
“We envision that would probably happen in late winter, early spring,” said Roussin. “So when we put our seeds in the ground, we’ll have a Food Charter.”
Attendees at the dinner were given a copy of the Food Charter to read and provide feedback on. Those who were unable to attend can get a copy of the charter and feedback form at visionstoaction.ca/sites/default/files/food_charter_with_survey_nov_25_2016.pdf.
They can also checkout the short documentaries about growing local food that were shown at the dinner by visiting growinglocalfilms.org.