Sunshine Coast Food Hub: Cultivating Food Start-up Success

A man stands in the One Tiny Farm garden, working with garden tools, in front of a red barn.
The Sunshine Coast Food Hub Maker Lab will be located at One Tiny Farm in Roberts Creek. Photo Courtesy of One Straw Society.
Cooking up new business opportunities for food start-ups, farmers, and entrepreneurs from a mobile kitchen in Robert’s Creek.

COURTENAY, February 13, 2024 – The Sunshine Coast Food Hub Maker Lab, a commercial mobile kitchen at One Tiny Farm in Roberts Creek, strives to mobilize as many local food businesses as possible across the Sunshine Coast. The initiative aims to boost regional food security and economic development by fostering the growth of local businesses, increasing farm sales, and enhancing food production. The project is moving ahead with an investment by Island Coastal Economic Trust through the Capital and Innovation Program.

This project, which is led by the One Straw Society, is designed as a “Maker Lab” rather than a standard community kitchen. The commercial-grade kitchen will provide access to a licensed facility and essential commercial equipment that is often too expensive to be purchased. It will empower innovative local food producers to grow their businesses from a farmers-market driven retail experience to a broader commercial model.

The Society’s education opportunities will also provide these businesses with vital mentorship and training to help establish themselves in the local food system. As an organization, One Straw strives to build a thriving, resilient and sustainable local food economy. This project helps elevate its work, measured through tangible benefits that strengthen the overall community wellbeing, including:

  • Nurturing new businesses in production, catering, education and pop-up dining experiences.
  • Creating self-employment opportunities for new and existing businesses and their support teams, including prep cooks, food processors, educators, and other support roles.
  • Increasing local product knowledge and sales for local farmers, food artisans, and other food-related businesses.
  • Promoting the local food scene and culinary culture, along with One Straw’s other projects, to grow local and regional tourism.

Long-term planning gained widespread community support for this initiative. First Nations elders, local food producers, members of local farmers’ markets and their 700+ society members, along with the broader community, have all confirmed demand for the project. The Society has also worked with 30 different chefs and food creators, with nearly half expressing keen interest in participating in both the planning and use of the new space.

Although designed to be mobile, the kitchen will be setup at One Tiny Farm. It will open onto garden spaces and a public picnic field. Beyond spurring the local food economy, the kitchen will also open various public engagement opportunities, including pop-up restaurants trialing new menus, a children’s farm-to-plate education program, and host various workshops to facilitate knowledge transfer and mentorships.

The project will begin by March 2024, with a targeted completion date in November 2024.  To learn more about the One Straw Society and the Sunshine Coast Food Hub Maker Lab, visit their website or follow them on Instagram.

Island Coastal Economic Trust is investing $50,000 with the One Straw Society, through the Capital and Innovation Program, towards a total investment of $149,400. This project will create impact focused on Food Security and Agrifood sector development, building both the local economy and strengthening food sovereignty by encouraging local start-ups.

The Trust has previously invested in similar projects, like those with Lush Valley Food Action Society in Courtenay and the Cowichan Green Community in Duncan.

Quotes about the project:

“This kitchen will be the heartbeat of many collaborative projects, providing a space to pull together other initiatives, such as fruit tree picking, food waste projects, mentorships and workshops, and our Tool Library. Collectively, these are empowering a resilient local food system, which is fueled by dynamic, well supported and viable food businesses.” – Casandra Fletcher, Executive Director, One Straw Society

“The Sunshine Coast Food Hub Maker Lab is not just a mobile kitchen; it’s a dynamic new opportunity for local food-businesses along the Sunshine Coast. This project marks a movement towards a more sustainable, vibrant food system, and a secure food future.”– Nicholas Simons, MLA, Powell River.

“Food security and agrifood are an important focus of our Capital and Innovation program. We’ve invested in food hub initiatives across our region, and we are excited to invest in the Sunshine Coast Food Hub Maker Lab. This initiative will offer local food entrepreneurs the opportunity to grow their business, while also positively impacting the tourism sector, and promote education.” – Aaron Stone, Chair, Island Coastal Economic Trust

About Island Coastal Economic Trust

Founded by the Province of British Columbia in 2006, the Island Coastal Economic Trust works to build a sustainable and resilient coastal economy in reciprocal relationships with First Nations, municipalities, and regional districts across Vancouver Island, the Sunshine Coast, and islands and inlets from the Salish Sea to Cape Caution. Serving over half a million residents, we partner with communities in the development and financing of their economic infrastructure and diversification efforts through our unique structure that is led by, and accountable to, communities.

Since our inception, Island Coastal Economic Trust has approved more than $60 million to economic development initiatives that have attracted over $333 million in new investment to our region. These investments have created over 2,750 permanent jobs, and countless positive impacts, across the coast.

Island Coastal Economic Trust acknowledges that we work for communities across the ancestral territories of the Kwak̓wala, Nuučaan̓uɫ, Éy7á7juuthem, Ligwilda’xw, Pəntl’áč, She shashishalhem, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh, Hul’q’umi’num’, diitiidʔaatx̣, SENĆOŦEN, Lekwungen, and T’Sou-ke speaking peoples.

Learn more about Island Coastal Economic Trust.

Media Contacts

Jeff Bartlett
Communications and Impact Manager
Island Coastal Economic Trust

Casandra Fletcher
Executive Director
One Straw Society
604-493-2252 Ext 1