Kitselas First Nation is in the process of developing a community–operated market garden along the Skeena River, outside of Terrace.
The two-acre site located on Queensway Drive is phase one of developing a commercial food system for the First Nation.
“The small acreage of the demonstration site will hopefully grow enough food this summer to sell at the farmers market,” said David Hansen, director of employment and training, Kitselas First Nation.
Next year – moving towards phase two – the First Nation is looking at venturing into commercial production.
Gradually the plan is to set up 100 acres of community-operated food production systems in the area, said Hansen.
The overall cost of developing the demonstration site –which included buying the land, materials as well as training costs – was around $1.2 million, said Hansen.
The First Nation’s primary goal is to head towards food security by “taking control of food systems into our hands,” said Hansen.
As part of this initiative, Kitselas membership will also receive hands-on training if they wish to set up home gardens or food boxes.
“The majority of the food we consume comes from outside B.C. and we’re not food secure,” said Hansen and added, that training community members will “empower” them to utilize backyard spaces and grow food.
Kitselas will continue to partner with Kitwanga-based Tea Creek farm which has been helping First Nation communities set up Indigenous-led food systems in northwest B.C.
Kitselas also had 14 youths from their community participate in the Indigenous Youth Works training program conducted by Tea Creek from Feb. and Mar.
In the long term, Kitselas First Nation’s vision is to launch into social enterprise initiatives that focus on food security, health and well being.
“Ultimately all the activities we have going on right now is to support food security for our community,” said Hansen.