Home Sweet Home, a local foods grocery store turned economic development project, is travelling the province this month, teaching rural communities how to build their local food economies. Between now and July 27, the Home Sweet Home Field School will be visiting Revelstoke, Burns Lake, Terrace, Hazelton and Telkwa, delivering free workshops on a range of food-business related topics, from business development to local policy.
Home Sweet Home was started by Diandra Oliver and Laura Sapergia in Prince George 3 years ago as a small grocery store, specializing in local food products at an accessible price. As they grew into a successful business, they found their customers wanted more than locally-produced groceries, they were also looking for advice.
“We were surprised by how many people would ask us questions about how they could start their own local food business,” says Oliver. “Some people wanted to know what grew well in our community and what they could sell. Others were interested in how they could develop value-added food products into a market ready item. Our storefront quickly evolved into a community space where people could support a local economic initiative and gain skills and knowledge to be more active in that economy themselves.”
In response, the Home Sweet Home duo began to expand their vision from one successful grocery store to an economic development project supporting local food businesses and their communities, to strengthen the local food sector.
“Home Sweet Home is an incredibly successful example of the potential of the local food economy in rural British Columbia,” says Sapergia. “What communities lack is knowledge. People want to know what works or what is legal and food safe or how to connect with customers. Communities want to know how they can encourage more local food producers. We want to help find solutions.”
Sapergia and Oliver launched the Home Sweet Home Field School and with some seed funding from SFU’s Community Economic Development Program’s annual Social Innovation Challenge, are touring the Interior and Northern B.C.
“Diandra pitched the Home Sweet Home Field School for our annual Social Innovation Challenge,” says SFU CED Program Director, Nicole Chaland. “Her passion is infectious, her vision for how to create sustainable and strong economies in the North is well reasoned and she has proven her capability with Home Sweet Home. We are thrilled to support her and her business partner to do this work.”
All Home Sweet Home Field School workshops are FREE and everyone is welcome to register online at www.beawesomeitseasy.com
Wednesday, July 20th at Burns Lake
Thursday, July 21st at Terrace
Monday, July 25th at Hazelton
Tuesday, July 26th at Hazelton
Wednesday, July 27th at Telkwa
ohsweetie at gmail.com