The Langley Environmental Partners Society has just completed its 9th annual Langley Eats Local Challenge in partnership with the Langley Farmers’ Market.
“[The event is] an extra big, special day celebrating all of the bounty of the Fraser Valley” says LEPS Agriculture Program Coordinator Ava Reeve. “The challenge was a week long event where Langley residents committed to sourcing as much of their food as possible from local farmers, local producers, and local businesses.”
To increase community engagement and awareness, activities such as digging up potatoes, a market scavenger hunt, and a visual questionnaire board for market goers to share their opinions and tips on sourcing local food were offered at the event.
“It’s really neat to see what people think about how to define ‘local’ and where [they] find local food,” says Reeve. “The challenge overall has been really great. People are posting photos on social media with their meals and where they can find all these different things. It’s been a lot of fun.”
Vancouver Chef Adrian Beaty, an advocate of fresh farm-to-table food, prepared a series of appetizers for market goers to sample and get a real sense of what can be created using exclusively locally-sourced ingredients. Tickets to sample the appetizers were set at $5.00 each.
“There’s all sorts of cultural reasons why farming is important,” says Paige Dampier, owner and farmer of Close to Home Organics and vendor and board member at the Langley Farmers’ Market. “If there were no farming, all our land would be put into development for industrial or residential [use] and we would have no access to local ingredients, which are fresher and more nutritious in terms of the amount of time it takes for them to go from field to table.”
In addition to being more nutritious, locally sourced purchases help to build up the community economically, environmentally, and socially .
“There’s a huge public education piece I think that is really important in local farming, where people are able to connect with farmers locally and find out what can be grown here and in what kinds of quantities,” says Dampier.
Community-supported agriculture, or the CSA model, is one of the simplest ways a community member can purchase local goods.
“[It’s] basically buying a subscription for the season,” says Reeve. “You have to pay in advance, usually a few hundred dollars, but it ends up being $25.00 worth of produce every week for the whole season, and then you don’t even have to go look for it. You pick it up or it comes to you and you’re set.”
Economic stability is something that everyone can benefit from, and sourcing out local food and goods is one way to create a more stable society.
“One of the amazing features we have in B.C. is the agricultural land reserve, and so some of the importance of farming is actually making use of the agricultural land reserve so that we are using and preserving farmland for future generations,” says Dampier. “As a board member, basically what we create every week is a pretty fantastic, family-oriented event that people can come to and celebrate local food at, but also just meet up and linger and enjoy ice cream and whatever.”
“It’s basically a place you can do your grocery shopping, and so much more,” she adds.