Agriculture expert talks Northwest food security

Pandemic exposed faults in supply chain, Ken Shaw of Prince Rupert told Terrace city council

Ken Shaw, an agriculture expert in Prince Rupert, expanded his garden during the pandemic and donated the extra produce to food banks. The expanded garden, nicknamed “COVID Gardens,” is seen here in a photo Shaw shared during an Aug. 26 presentation to Terrace city council regarding food security. (Ken Shaw photo)

Terrace city council heard a presentation Aug. 26 about food security in the Northwest.

Ken Shaw, an agriculture expert and co-ordinator for the Applied Coastal Ecology program at Coast Mountain College, traveled from his home in Prince Rupert to share some of his expertise.

He recalled walking through Safeway in Prince Rupert on March 18.

“[I was] looking at the bare shelves, the produce department, the bread department, the meat department,” he said. “The whole COVID thing really … exposed the fragility our supply chains.”

People began asking him around that time what locals could do to support production of food, where they could get seeds and other such questions.

“The answer for Prince Rupert was basically ‘it’s too late.’ Middle of March, we can’t scale up that quickly and produce our food,” he said. “The best we could possibly do is enhance the existing producers in the region and support them with whatever they need, land, inputs, labour, to try and build that supply.”

However, Shaw was able to slightly expand his personal garden to grow some extra food for donation to food banks in Prince Rupert during the pandemic. He nicknamed the expanded operation “COVID Gardens.”

Shaw said municipal government policies can be used to strengthen local food production.

“The decisions and things that you can enable can make huge, huge differences,” he told Terrace council.

Municipalities can make public land available for farming, establish municipal composting services, make room for agriculture in urban land use policies, and prioritize food security and local food production in municipal economic development plans, Shaw said.

Shaw provided council with a 14-page document detailing his policy proposals, a document he created as part of his role advising the City of Prince Rupert in its Sustainable City 2030 initiative. The full docment can be found on the City of Terrace website.

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