From apples picked fresh a few kilometres up the road to carrots pulled from lovingly-toiled soil a few kilometres down, UBCO Food Services is dishing up home-grown ingredients through a pilot project to bring more locally-procured food to the campus community.
This project is a partnership with the Land to Table Food System Network (L2T), a growing network of people and organizations from across the Okanagan, who are working together to develop a food system that is economically prosperous, environmentally sustainable and socially accessible.
Why Land to Table?
Driven by the belief that small-scale and organic farmers play a crucial role in our communities, the project’s goal is to bring more seasonal, organic and Okanagan-grown food to plates at UBCO.
“At Food Services, it’s important that we support the local community,” says Brad Vigue, Executive Chef of UBCO Food Services. “Partnering with local farmers helps grow this circular support system where we can interact with our environment in a much more micro way.”
A big challenge for small-scale organic farmers is that they are struggling to compete with the cheaper prices and greater convenience of transnational corporations, which control most aspects of the global food system. Because of this issue, local farmers need more institutional champions, such as UBCO, to incentivize and support the building of a local food value chain—connecting farmers, distributors, restaurants and food service operations, and ultimately customers.
Quantity of fresh, seasonal ingredients from local growers and suppliers in 2022
By supporting local growers who practice sustainable and climate-conscious agriculture, Food Services is also able to support UBCO’s Climate Action Plan (UBCO CAP 2030). Launched in the spring of 2022, UBCO CAP 2030 will identify new ways to reduce emissions in areas that university community members have influence over, including commuting, waste and food.
“If we can break our reliance on foods that are transported from far away, we can support our local farmers and the environment, and our community becomes more resilient.” — Brad Vigue, Executive Chef, UBCO Food Services
Our community partners
Land to Table (L2T) has been instrumental in connecting UBCO Food services with these valued community partners, working congruently to build a thriving local food system throughout the Okanagan.
Patrick Ling-Allen, Curlew Orchard
One partner, Curlew Orchard, supplies UBCO Food Services with apples, juice and cider. The certified-organic North Okanagan farm is run by Vernon local, Patrick Ling-Allen.
“It’s our goal to sell locally, (and) we’re happy to be making that happen,” says Patrick. “Putting environmental stewardship into action … (is) the reason we wanted to get into this. To do something hands-on, and implement sustainability practices with action.”
“That’s what’s exciting about working with L2T,” he adds. “To be part of our food (value) chain, knowing food is being grown in a healthy way, that we’re balancing wildlife needs and also building the communities around us, too.”
Another partner, Shuswap Organics, provides local, organic, sustainably-grown ingredients and preserves from the Shuswap region. UBCO Food Services purchases more than one thousand pounds of seasonal produce—such as salad greens, squash, beets, and more—weekly from Shuswap Organics.
“My personal joy in my work comes from knowing how close to our consumers we are, and how the food we provided to them travelled such a short distance,” says Owen Madden, who launched Shuswap Organics with his wife, Emily Jubenvill.
“What this project (L2T) does is put in a baseline safety net (for farmers), a guarantee of a reliable customer, and UBCO Food Services is one of those relationships that holds down what we do so we can handle the volatility in other areas of the food industry.”
Owen Madden and Emily Jubenvill, Shuswap Organics. Photo: Maylies Lang.
“As a Chef, I treasure these experiences because it reminds me how lucky I am to live in the Okanagan valley, which produces some of the best fruits and vegetables out there. I want to share that experience with others: the success of the farmers and the quality of their ingredients. I want share these amazing food experiences with our campus community.” — Brad Vigue, Executive Chef, UBCO Food Services