The Root (formerly known as the Produce Centre) is a planned community facility envisioned to assist farms with the processing and wholesaling/distribution of locally grown produce.
A summary and one pager on the project can be found here:
The Produce Centre was identified in the Local Area Farm Plan as an important component in establishing a stronger local food system. An initial needs assessment was undertaken and a conceptual business plan developed with funding from a 2011 Vancity enviroFund Grant. In late 2012 ownership of a property on Beddis Road was given to the Salt Spring Island Farmland Trust Society (SSIFTS) as part of a rezoning agreement. This property is recognized as a good site for the Farm Centre for its central location, supportive zoning and availability.
In late 2013, a Produce Centre Planning Committee was initiated by the Alliance and the SSIFTS to oversee the development of Conceptual Design Plan. The Draft Conceptual Design Plan for the purpose of amending the Development Permit was completed in August 2014.
You can downland a summary of the Draft Conceptual Design Summary and view the draft conceptual design drawings immediately below.
Discussion groups were held in February, August and September 2014 with potential facility users. The Draft Conceptual Design Plan was displayed at a staffed tent at the September 2014 Fall Fair, followed by a widely advertised community meeting at the Salt Spring Public Library in November with over 50 people in attendance.
The Development Permit Amendment, based on the SSI Farmland Trust’s Master Plan for the site, was approved effective March 31, 2015. Funds for detailed design drawings were provided by The Salt Spring Foundation. Work on the site began in 2016 with the renovation of the existing barn building and utilities installation. The work was partly funded through grants from the Victoria Foundation and Vancity enviroFund. Next steps include refined costing, developing an operations plan and initiating a capital campaign for construction of the new building.
Why do we need a Farm Produce Centre?
Agriculture on Salt Spring Island is comprised of many, very diverse, and often small, farms. Historically, each farm managed the cultivation, processing and marketing of their produce. Many farms sell at the local markets, through farm stands, and directly to individuals, grocery stores and restaurants. Some farms wholesale or sell at off-island markets. While all of these approaches can be effective for generating profit for the farms and providing local food to consumers, many of the large institutions, restaurants and grocery stores on Salt Spring continue to purchase the majority through distributors who source produce from the mainland, California and beyond. The off-island produce is more consistently available in large quantities, and often at cheaper prices than produce grown on-island. Studies have shown that only 6% of produce consumed on Salt Spring is produced locally.
- 2010 Salt Spring Island Local Produce Study (Islands Trust)
- 2005 Salt Spring Island Local Produce Study (island Natural Growers)
The Farm Centre project is intended to create a local wholesale and distribution alternative that better serves the large on-island food purchasers and increases the demand for locally grown food. It is also intended to support small-scale farmers without access to capital for building their own infrastructure, as well as local, enterprising food producers who require commercial processing space and equipment to create value-added products using locally farmed produce.
We’d welcome feedback on these plans. If you have any comments please fill in the form below.