In its first season in the area, the Buy Local! Buy Fresh! map for Thompson-Shuswap has been a success, says Shayne Wright, coordinator of the Buy Local BC Initiative, which produced the map.
Almost all the maps printed this past season have been distributed. Wright hopes to improve on the 25 regional farms that were showcased in the first map, noting that the Okanagan map, now in its fourth season, started off with 27 farms and is now up to 48.
“Anyone wanting to be listed has to have at least one offering that is produced and sold locally,” says Wright. And that is not limited to produce: it can also incorporate those who raise meat, make beverages of any sort, produce honey or spices or vinegar, or who grow items which they use in other products. An example would be someone who grows lavender and then uses it to produce lotions or pot-pourri.
The cost of $60 for new vendors, or $50 for returning ones, gives each vendor a detailed listing on the map, detailing what they sell, where they are located, what their hours are, and more.
The map listings are also mirrored on the Buy Local! Buy Fresh! website, giving vendors an online presence as well. “Some small vendors have their only online advertising outlet here,” says Wright. “They don’t have a website apart from the Buy Local one.”
Wright says he’s sad when a small, new producer comes on board, has a great year, and then says they don’t have to advertise anymore. “Some small producers have said people found them because of the map.”
He says that the maps also help locals identify what is in their vicinity, and guide people to them. “If visitors are looking for something, a local person can refer to the map and say ‘That’s my neighbour down the road.’”
It is not just small producers who get on the Buy Local! Buy Fresh! map, adds Wright. “It’s for everyone from small owner-operated businesses to big agri-tourism and commodity-based vendors. We’d like to convince large producers who sell all their food out of town to sell some produce locally.”
Wright says that registration for the 2017 Thompson-Shuswap map will be opening soon.
Anyone looking for information can e-mail Wright at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call him at (250) 869-7248. Copies of this year’s map are available at the Community Futures Sun Country office in Ashcroft.
“The map gets people thinking about where their food comes from. And it’s great that we have alternatives, and can show people what’s available.”