Food foraging in the Ladysmith area just got a little easier with the release of the third annual Buy Local! Buy Fresh! map.
The free map, a product of the Cowichan Green Community (CGC), is a comprehensive directory for sourcing farms, restaurants and farmers’ markets where fresh, locally-grown food can be purchased.
This year’s map includes 68 farms — 14 of those new — from Cedar to Shawnigan Lake. There, you’ll find everything from asparagus and octopus to blackberry port and fresh stinging nettle, says CGC mapping co-ordinator Raelynn Gibson.
“It makes it easy for people to connect to local food,” she said. “There’s constantly new farmers that are coming into the market, and we want to provide a way for the farmer to have direct marketing.”
There are approximately 11 farms on the map in the Cedar to Chemainus area, including Isabelle’s Garden, the Farm at Cedarwood, Steld Farm, Island Hazlenut Farm and Cedar Valley Poultry.
“The Ladysmith, Chemainus, Cedar area is really well represented with fruits, vegetables, nuts, herbs, meat and poultry,” Gibson said.
Gibson said because the map is annual, it gives farmers a chance to look at highlighting other products to offer consumers as they diversify or try to find their niche.
“I’ve farmed before, and you’re so busy farming during the season that to also market your produce and get your name out there is difficult,” she said.
Fortunately for farmers, however, there has been a real shift towards healthy, local eating in the past few years.
“I think we’re very lucky in the Cowichan region; people are very supportive of the local food movement,” Gibson said. “We get such positive feedback from the map; people are calling us all the time looking for the latest edition.”
The map includes all of the same useful tips as in previous years, such as a list of events and the top 10 reasons to eat local.
CGC is working on a more interactive map for next year, where users will be able to scan a farm on the map with a smartphone, and it will take them directly to an online map for directions.
The Buy Local! Buy Fresh! map is now available for pick up from the Cowichan Green Community’s office at 181 Station St. in downtown Duncan, and it will become available at various businesses, farms and tourist destinations throughout the region. The CGC office is open Tuesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
For more information, contact Raelynn Gibson at 250-748-8506.