Kelowna to host sustainable food industry summit

Kelowna will soon host a summit on how the food industry can reduce its climate impact

Kelowna will soon host farmers and other food providers from around the country on how the food industry can reduce its climate impact.

The first Canadian Summit on Climate Action in Food Systems was announced this week by Sustainable Grain, a Canadian company that works to modernize food production.

The summit will bring guest speakers to crowds of farmers and other actors in the food world. One of the main talking points will be regenerative farming — a fast-growing movement that focuses on strengthening the health of the soil.

Brenda Tjaden, founder and CEO of Sustainable Grains, explained that climate action in this context is less about reducing the emissions humans put into the atmosphere and more about letting soil do the work.

“We’re not talking so much about the emissions side of climate change or climate action here, we’re talking about the power of healthy soil to pull atmospheric carbon into the ground and have it do great things down there.”

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Soil that’s free of fertilizers and over-tilling can do wonders for the environment, says Tjaden, who has spent the last three years researching regenerative farming.

“When you mobilize that soil life to grow the plant and to fill the grain in the plant, you’re not just adding more nutrition into the grain – that’s the essence of flavour,” she said.

The conference will feature a talk from a celebrity chef, a locally renowned chef Jeremy Luypen, Gillian Preston, author of forward-looking agriculture book The New Farm, and Emma Weston, CEO and co-founder of AgriDigital, one of Australia’s top emerging agriculture-tech companies.

Tamara McLellan, the co-chair of the conference, echoed Tjaden’s hopes that the world can return to old agricultural practices that have been left behind in the era of pesticides and large-scale farms.

“We as a system have moved away from that in such a huge way and it’s not sustainable,” said McLellan.

She expects that roughly one-third of the conference will be made up of farmers, and the rest will comprise other branches of the food industry that could stand to make improvements.

“We don’t want to cost farmers any more money,” she added. “We’re not interested in wagging our fingers at them.”

The summit will kick off with an opening reception at Summerhill Pyramid Winery followed by two days at Delta Grand Okanagan this coming October. More information is available at www.sustainablegrain.ca/summit.


Brendan Shykora

Reporter, Vernon Morning Star

Email me at Brendan.Shykora@vernonmorningstar.com

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