Mayor excited about fresh start with Pan Cape Breton Food Hub

PORT HAWKESBURY: The mayor says she’s excited about the possibilities for the town within the Pan Cape Breton Food Hub.

Port Hawkesbury officials heard a presentation from the Food Hub during their regular council meeting last Tuesday night, in which the group explained they hadn’t been as present in the town as they’d like, but moving forward, they’d be more hands-on in the area.

The Food Hub is asking their partnering municipalities for $15,000 to assist in their funding.

Alicia Lake, the group’s executive director, advised council they had service in the town for two years but weren’t getting the traction they wanted, so in 2018, they worked on a new strategy that lays out the foundation for their future.

“Our mistake was not being able to reach out to people properly, but one of the biggest mistakes we’ve made in the past is we’ve started too early in the season,” she explained. “Starting in the beginning of June and we don’t have vegetables, and coming into communities, people are disappointed by what the offerings are.”

Lake explained she thinks they need to have a staggering start and come into Port Hawkesbury in August during the bountiful season to get people excited that there is a lot of product.

“I think that it’s really great that the Food Hub is looking to re-establish and increase a presence here in Port Hawkesbury,” Brenda Chisholm-Beaton, the town’s mayor, said following the meeting. “We’re a major service hub, we’re a transportation hub, we’re an education hub, and a culture and recreation hub.”

She said the town services anywhere between 30,000 and 50,000 people on any given day and would be an ideal spot for the Food Hub to branch out, and take advantage of the fact that they are so well positioned.

The Food Hub also indicated they secured much-needed infrastructure in the terms of a production facility, something that will assist producers in planting their crops because they know they can bring it to the facility and it will do all the work they can’t do in the offseason, like peel, cut-up, portion, or prepare their products.

Lake indicated there are 25,000 subscription-based prepared box meals like Hello Fresh coming onto Cape Breton Island each week, something they find as a bit of a challenge, as their goal has always been to make it easy to get products of local producers into the hands of local consumers and chefs.

The Food Hub provides a distribution linkage between local food producers and consumers, creating a more sustainable food system by increasing the viability of local producers while improving access to high quality local food.