2011 Lillooet Food Forum Report


held March 19th, 2011, Lillooet, BC

Released March 31st, 2011

Lillooet Food Matters, in partnership with the Ucwalmicw Centre Society, received funding in February of 2011 from the Community Food Action Initiative in partnership with Interior Health, to put on a free public forum that would address Lillooet’s food security issues.  The forum, held at Julianne Hall, T’it’q’et, on March 19, 2011, served as an educational and awareness raising event, as well as a community planning process in the form of a brainstorming session.  It was an extremely successful, inspiring and well-attended event for Lillooet, with over 100 people registered as participants.  Many people afterwards, spoke of the incredibly positive energy that was generated by the event, with the intricate displays, the guest speakers, and the discussions that followed.  It also ended up being a good venue for networking, with people who came from as far away as 100 Mile House, Vancouver, and Salmon Arm. 

The Julianne Hall’s walls were decorated with inspiring quotes, and beautiful collages of food images, made and donated by Jan Wilson.  Display tables filled the back walls:  Lillooet Food Matters’ Eleanor Wright, Kim Chute and Judy Bodaly with help from others, created the Sustainable Kitchen, with 2 tables covered with food processing equipment, from pressure canners to dehydrators to pickling crocks; canned, dried, fermented foods and herbs, as well as How To books, completed the picture.  Ida Peter of Shalalth and Candice Jack of Xwisten created a fantastic Indigenous Traditional Foods table, filled with all sorts of preserved wild foods and photos, as well as traditional harvesting and processing tools; samples of dried wild salmon were there, as well as berries, roots and other wild foods.  Kim North of the Lillooet Naturalists and Split Rock Wild Plant Nursery created a colourful and interactive display of local, native wild food plants using pictures, books, and wonderful samples, showing how naturally abundant and rich this area is for wild food.  Darwin John of the Invasive Plant Council brought their dynamic display showing how non-native, invasive plants can harm the environment, wildlife, and food growing in general, challenging any gardener or farmer.  A resource table with a plethora of books on food topics ranging from the practical to the political, as well as handouts and information, put together by the organizers, completed the displays.

Chief Kevin Whitney started the day by welcoming us all to the T’it’q’et community and land, followed by Elder Ceda Scotchman who gave a beautiful prayer in the Statimc language about giving and receiving.  Lillooet Mayor Dennis Bontron spoke briefly about the importance of individual citizens getting involved in policy and decision-making, and introduced our facilitator Trevor Chandler, Ph.D.  A life-time resident and farmer among other things, Trevor gave a wonderful sketch of the colourful history of food growing and wild harvesting in Lillooet, which of course predates contact. It was made very clear that Lillooet was, and can still be, with care and diligence, “naturally abundant”.  Trevor then introduced local biologist Sue Senger, Ph.D. of Lillooet (Biologist and Master seed saver) who gave a powerful presentation explaining the relationship between seed saving, food security, and the global crisis.

It is important to define food security here by listing a few of Sue’s key points:
  • if you eat, you are involved in agriculture!
  • food security is defined as the ability to provide food  when and where it is required, in sufficient amounts for health.
  •  we need to be concerned about food security because of Climate Change, Peak Oil, Global Populations, and Food shortages.
Sue’s complete presentation is available by contacting her by email: ssenger@telus.net,

The rest of the morning session consisted of three guest speakers: 

Ø    Cheryl Thomas of Clearwater (North Thompson Food Coalition) spoke about her involvement in food security issues locally in the North Thompson, stressing the importance of getting involved by both growing even just a little food, and participating in policy making.
Ø    Sarah Bradshaw of Enderby (Shuswap Heritage Seed Bank) also spoke of her work on food security issues throughout the years, echoing Cheryl’s message to people to get involved at any level, and highlighting the importance of saving, sharing and taking back ownership of heritage seed varieties: “all food starts with a seed!”
Ø    Dawn Morrison of Adams Lake (Indigenous Food Sovereignty Network) talked about her work with the BC Food Systems Network and how the Indigenous Food Sovereignty issue and now Network arose, and the importance of people taking back the culture of food, ie.: having pride in the food they grow, harvest from the wild, and eat.

With Sue Senger joining these three on the panel, a question and answer period followed, and a stirring and inspiring discussion unfolded.

Lunch was something to behold:  4 delicious soups made by volunteers with 95% organic and over 90% locally produced and provided ingredients; bread baked locally and made with wheat grown by a local biodynamic farmer; desserts included locally and organically grown, hand milled corn meal, and local, organic fruit.  Artisan cheeses made in the Shuswap, our neighbouring territory, were also available, as well as wild, locally sourced and made salmon pate, salmon being a major staple food for the Statimc people.  The food was provided without fee to the participants, and there was plenty of it, bringing home a key tenet of food security: healthy, locally sourced, affordable food for all.

Following lunch and a giveaway of door prizes which included donations of moose meat, dried salmon, canning, salves made with local, organically grown herbs, farm fresh eggs, garlic, etc., we reconvened for the afternoon brainstorming and visioning session.  The following pages outline in more detail, the thoughts, vision, and ideas that came out of the smaller group brainstorming session and discussions that followed.  This is by far, the “meat” of the forum.  Please note that this is not a complete list of what is possible for Lillooet to manifest “food security”, or in Cheryl Thomas’ words, “food certainty”.  The ideas listed herein are also not the opinion of everyone attending; we were not interested in obtaining consensus at this time, focussing rather on being open to any ideas at this point.  The writer attempted as best she could to also leave out any excess interpretations or preferences, sticking to the ideas of the participants: the people have spoken!  Lastly, these ideas do not necessarily reflect the mandate or vision of Lillooet Food Matters or the Ucwalmicw Centre Society. 


The group of participants were randomly divided into 4 smaller groups, each with a facilitator and note taker, and each person was in turn given the task of answering the following questions, as a small group brainstorming session:

Ø    What does Food Security mean to you?
Ø    What do we already have in place in Lillooet in terms of Food Security?
Ø    What more can we be doing?
Ø    What are the top 5 priorities you see for Food Security?
Ø    Who are the potential partners for these priorities?

The “findings” were then presented to each other as a larger group, and these priorities for Food Security for Lillooet were highlighted from that discussion:

·  education for all, from schools to the general public, on a wide variety of food security related topics
·  farmer’s market improvements
·  policy changes that support local agriculture and food security initiatives
·  networking, to work together towards a common vision of a food secure community
·  gleaning – aka picking, using and distributing unwanted or extra fruit or vegetables

The following pages outline in more detail, the thoughts, vision, and ideas that came out of the smaller group brainstorming session and discussions.


Most or All Groups stated that Food Security means:

·   EDUCATION: sharing information and skills about growing, preserving and preparing food through schools, public workshops, mentoring, volunteering and encouraging others by being an example
·   FOOD SUPPLY: access to local, dependable, healthy/nutritious, sustainably produced, culturally appropriate, affordable, year-round, wild, diverse, robust food for all without anyone going hungry, while reducing/eliminating our dependence on multinationals for food; have an adequate supply of food within reach that would last a year
·   COMMUNITY NETWORKING: work together, not wait for governments to make it happen, network the networks, working towards community sufficiency and survival, non-natives working with native people and vice versa
·   GROWING and PRESERVING: people including children and families, should have access to food growing spaces and the knowledge of how to grow and preserve food
·   HEALTH: knowledge of what our bodies need food/nutrition wise, how foods are grown, what healthy eating means
·   RESOURCE PROTECTION:  protecting land for growing, and wild lands from development; protect air, water, soil health and wildlife

Additional ideas mentioned about what Food Security means to them:
·   strong sense of urgency
·   permaculture – inputs should equal outputs, without reliance on outside sources for food or means to grow food (eg.: fertilizers, pesticides, seeds)
·   trade food surpluses, avoid wasting food
·   seed independence
·   relationship with the Earth
·   peace and security
·   equity


Most or All Groups stated that we already have in place, in terms of Food Security:

·   PEOPLE INVOLVED: organizations such as Lillooet Food Matters/Seedy Saturday and Salmon Talks; critical mass of people and doers, youth groups, people organizing food forums such as this one and the Roots Gathering, as well as Salmon in the Canyon; seed savers and seed saving workshops
·   PEOPLE WITH KNOWLEDGE and EQUIPMENT: local farmers and gardeners, elders, traditional /cultural / ecological / ethnobotany / homesteading / grain growing / seed saving / organic growing / worm composting / food preservation / permaculture / bee keeping knowledge and equipment
·   COMMUNITY GARDENS (eg.: existing: Ucwalmicw Community Garden (T’it’q’et), Xaxlip (Fountain), Tsal’alh/Skeil (Shalalth/Seton), GM School in Lillooet (dormant?); and in planning stages: Xwisten (Bridge River), and Anglican Church in Lillooet)
·   CLIMATE and GOOD SOIL: Lillooet’s climate is ideal to grow a wide variety of food, with many microclimates enabling greater diversity and a long growing season; the soil type is generally good to excellent for growing food
·   WILD FOODS:  Lillooet and area has “natural abundance”, containing Indigenous wild foods such Saskatoon berries, Hooshum berries, Black Caps, Salmon Berries, edible mushrooms, medicinal herbs, as well as game.
·   LOCAL CROPS: Airport Gardens, Fountainview Farms, Golden Cariboo Honey, Bitterbine Hops, Fort Berens, Sheep Pasture Golf and hay fields were listed as existing projects involving the growing or production of food/grapes for wine on a large scale; many small, family type farms were also mentioned, which exist throughout the area, including those with chickens, turkeys, pigs, goats, dairy cows and beef cattle, etc as well as a wide variety of vegetable and fruit crops
·   MERCHANT WILLINGNESS: for eg.:, one restaurant purchases local produce when available (others may also but not confirmed at this time) and has tentatively offered the use of their kitchen for people to use during closed hours as a Community Kitchen; one Restaurant/Pub produces culinary sauces for sale locally; the Feed and Garden Store sells gardening tools, equipment, seeds, soil, fertilizers, is a merchant for a poultry hatchery, etc. and is willing to order things as desired including organic options; one grocery store sells locally grown carrots and apples, and locally produced honey; some merchants sell farm fresh eggs

Additional ideas from participants about what we already have in place in terms of Food Security:
·   cob oven and apple press
·   commercial kitchens where large amounts of food can be prepared that satisfy Interior Health regulations
·   school involvement including a cooking class that provides catered food to large groups
·   Split Rock Nursery, Fred Creek Farms raise seedlings for sale
·   local certified Butcher  - Texas Creek Meats
·   Soup Kitchen and Elder’s lunch where large amounts of healthy food is shared
·   Food Bank where excess food is brought for distribution to those in need
·   GNS Contracting delivers top soil and mushroom manure and possibly has the potential to have a local composting facility
·   community planning processes such as Council and SLRD
·   Horse and other animal manure is widely available and usually very affordable if not free
·   Hay farms are widely distributed and often have spent or rotten hay which is great for building garden beds and for compost – also potential places to grow food for humans
·   Pine Beetle Bark Composted Soil Mix vs. Peat Moss Pilot Project, by the Lillooet Naturalists and the Cayoosh Creek Indian Band (funding approved, project to begin Spring 2011)
·   Lillooet is a hub for surrounding smaller communities to use as their closest shopping centre and so the market includes a large area and larger population


Most or All Groups stated: 

·   MORE EDUCATION: workshops, mentoring, skill sharing “meetings” or clubs, for both new growers, experienced growers who want to learn more and the general public:
            ~ fruit tree management / orchard (see above);
            ~ growing food and raising livestock, small and large scale (including organic growing, permaculture, biodynamic methods, etc)
            ~ processing / preserving / preparing healthy food, including workshops and                 mentoring on root cellaring (including building root cellars), dehydrating (including solar drying), pickling/fermenting, canning, freezing, butchering, cooking
            ~ seed saving
            ~ the origin of our food, ie.: where is our food coming from and how is it grown; aka grocery store tours
            ~ composting including vermiculture (worm composting)
            ~ healthy eating / eating with the Seasons
            ~ corporate team building workshops eg.:  team building exercises could take place   on a farm working and leaning about growing and processing food
            ~ create a calendar with photos of local farms and gardens growing food that would include seasonal charts, dates for planting, harvesting, wild food harvesting and use, etc, as well as growing, preserving and cooking tips
            ~ encourage and develop educational / demonstration gardens throughout community, eg.: at the Anglican Church and Lillooet Wellness Centre (proposals)

·   FARMER’S MARKET IMPROVEMENTS: ie.: need more involvement on both sides of the table (vendors and customers); suggestions for change included:
~ change the day of the current market, ie.: many stated they can’t attend on Friday
~ add a day, ie.: have 2 market days like Kamloops
~ organize a separate market for just produce or farm produced products
~ change the location to a less dusty, grassy, more shady place, suggestions included the Miyazaki House; Museum park with side street for vendors who need their vehicles; REC Centre lawn; lot between Post Office and Town Hall
~ obtain support from Town Council in the way of a break on the required business license for example, or loosening up regulations to have the Market on Town land

~ provide financial incentives (eg.: tax breaks on water bills) for people who grow food in their yards
~ create a community, bear-proof composting facility at the Landfill or in neighbourhoods and provide incentives to compost
~ make composting mandatory in all public facilities, restaurants, grocery stores and offices
~ do chipping instead of burning of the wood waste pile at Landfill, to be used in landscaping or composting
~ showcase the agricultural potential of our area in Town Council’s quest for new businesses to open in Lillooet (eg.: a commercial scale greenhouse enterprise that would grow organic produce all read round; organic poultry raising business)
~ highlight the food growing potential of Lillooet in all promotional projects (tourist, real estate info, etc)
~ with Lillooet being Mile “0”, include the concept of the Zero Mile Diet or Mile 0 Diet (referring to the popularized 100 Mile Diet) 
~ create incentives for and promote farm gate sales
~ protect natural resources to ensure that healthy food is being grown locally, as well as for environmental sustainability (eg.: make water quality a top priority; protect agricultural lands from industrial development; create policies that protect air quality)
~ provide funding for local groups to carry out some of these projects (eg.: educational workshop series; pay for lease of land for community gardens; waive business license to Farmer’s Market; etc)
~ incorporate agricultural, food growing values into Economic Plan
~ allow for backyard chickens and small livestock
~ create our own Food Charter or Policy
~ stand up for citizens who want to provide for more of their food needs than allowed by Provincial and Federal regulations (eg.: the purchase, trade and consumption of raw milk or raw dairy products; raising and processing farm animals for sale and / or trade)

~ support all of the above, provide incentives and change laws that would allow local governments and communities to provide for their food needs, including relaxing regulations on things such as raw milk, livestock raising and butchering, etc
~ establish a moratorium on GM food and seed
~ open regulations on hunting and fishing
~ educate the public more about the value of locally grown food, organically raised food, etc.

~ self-sustaining, non-profit (can mean that people are paid to run it)
~ bulk buying group storage and distribution centre
~ community / neighbourhood root cellar(s)
~ storefront for selling local food and local value-added food products
~ common processing facility with commercial, certified, insured kitchen and equipment ranging from dehydrators to pressure canners to juicers to freezers
~ workshop space to teach, mentor, skill share
~ storage facility and/or tool bank (tools for growing food as well as processing)
~ community garden space(s) for growing food – central and / or in neighbourhoods

~ food growing tools and equipment exchange
~ food preservation equipment exchange or a central location to share equipment as well as the activity of putting food by
~ labour / volunteer pool whereby people who need help can find it and exchange food for labour
~ mentoring: connect farmers/food growers with those that want to learn by apprenticeship
~ farm meet farmer:  connect farmers who need land with those that own land available for food growing
~ food sharing / bartering system eg.: have a bulletin board at the Farmer’s Market,  post online on FreeCycle/Craiglist/Shared Harvest or other existing free networks, create a telephone tree
~ local trade fair; bring back the Fall Fair and expand it to include trade and bartering of preserved foods
~ Farmers / Growers Directory for public including tourists, advertise locally
~ mapping of fruit orchards available for gleaning, farm locations who have farm gate sales, community gardens (existing and potential sites)
~ growers / producers create a coop whereby they educate each other, share resources, and share marketing strategies as well as shipping
~ increase trade with communities north of us such as 100 Mile, Williams Lake who can’t grow hot climate loving crops such as tomatoes, squash, etc

·   FRUIT TREE MANAGEMENT: have workshops that address pruning, grafting, growing, and protection of fruit trees against disease, insects, birds, bears, etc; organize workbees to prune trees, build fences, harvest and process fruit, etc, especially for seniors or abandoned/under valued trees (also known as a Gleaning Project); excess fruit can go to the Food Bank, cooking class at the high school, Soup Kitchens, Elder’s Lunches, etc.

Additional ideas from participants about what we could be doing:
·   support Community Supported Agriculture
·   encourage local restaurants and food sellers (grocery stores, health food store, bakery) to sell, use locally produced food and value-added food products
·   agricultural auction
·   have more grains, beans, staple foods, dairy produced locally and widely available
·   a steering committee of dedicated, committed volunteers should be formed to ensure that these ideas are put into practice on a practical, hands on level


~ workshop series
~ speaker series
~ farm tours
~ demonstration gardens throughout community including schools, health centres & hospital, senior centre, etc.
~ teaching / resource centre including a commercial kitchen, equipment bank, etc
~ TOPICS: traditional foods and wild harvesting, preserving, growing, composting, cooking, healthy eating / eating seasonally, storage methods including root cellaring and how to build one, orchard management, marketing, where does our food come from, organic growing and other non-conventional methods, seed saving, Zero Mile Diet / 100 Mile Diet

Lillooet Food Matters
Lillooet Secondary, Elementary Schools
Community Associations (Elks, Lions)
District of Lillooet
Lillooet Farmer’s Market
Community members
Band councils
Native and non- Native Elders
Farmers, Growers, Homesteaders
Interior Health
Health Care Workers
Infant Development workers
Youth / Youth workers
Lillooet Naturalists Society
~ enliven market eg.: live music, kids activities
~attract new vendors selling fresh produce and value-added food products
~ advertise widely to attract new vendors and customers eg.: email list of what vendors will be attending when and with what they’ll be selling
~ increase participation in Farmer’s Market membership, attend meetings, create change
~ change date?
~ change venue?
~ suggest and implement improvements to current venue

Lillooet Farmer’s Market
Lillooet Food Matters
Farmers and Growers
advertising agents
District of Lillooet
land owner of current venue


~ incorporate food growing and food availability ideas and values into our town’s Economic Plan
~ develop idea of Mile 0 Diet / 0 Mile Diet
~ form a Policy Committee that would give direction to District of Lillooet and SLRD
~ include incentives to grow food on a small scale (backyards) and on a larger, commercial scale eg.:  tax breaks including water bill credits for people / businesses  growing food; waive Farmer’s Market business license fee; provide funding / in kind donations to lease District owned land for community gardens; allow for chickens, rabbits in urban backyards
~ make land available for growing food eg.: tenant farming
~ composting in neighbourhoods, at Landfill, in offices, schools, etc

Lillooet Food Matters
Farmers and Gardeners
Food Bank / Friendship Centre
Lillooet Farmer’s Market
Health Care Workers
Interior Health
Infant Development workers
Youth and Youth workers
District of Lillooet / Economic Development Officer
Statimc Health HUB
SLRD planners
Chamber of Commerce
Bear Aware
Land owners
Concerned Citizens

~ to pick any excess, unused, unwanted fruit to ensure that no fruit is wasted
~ to ensure that fruit trees are not attracting bears or creating problem bears
~ to improve the health and yield of abandoned or underused / undervalued fruit trees
~ to distribute fruit, shared between volunteer pickers, food bank, soup kitchens, high school cooking class, and Elder’s lunch programs
~ create a value-added cottage industry using gleaned fruit

Lillooet Farmer’s Market
Farmers, Growers and Land Owners
Lillooet Secondary
Bear Aware
Food Bank / Friendship Centre
Anglican Church soup kitchen
Statimc Health HUB
Infant Development workers

~ gleaning (picking and distributing excess or unused, under valued food)
~ bartering and trade
~ Bulleting Boards at Farmer’s Market and other key places
~ online, using existing, free networks eg.: Freecycle, Craigslist, Lillooet listserve, etc
~ cooperatives eg.: bulk buying, tool and resource sharing, growers coop
~ establish trading initiatives with communities north of us eg.: 100 Mile, and trade foods that grow well here for __
~ use existing events and venues as catalysts to promote local food, eg.: May Day Parade, Canada Day celebrations, Miyazaki House events, Museum, Lillooet tourist promotions, real estate publications
~ connect farmers with other farmers to learn and exchange ideas as well as equipment, connect volunteers / workers with farmers, etc.
~ adopt of farmer / gardener mentoring
~ attend and participate in Lillooet Food Matters meetings and events
~ work with local First Nations Band Councils / Lillooet Tribal Council to ensure their food certainty goals are being addressed / do same with non-Native neighbourhoods
~ identify and promote commercial crops
~ make sure that we are all working together, Native and non-Native, network the networks
~ farm directory linking people to growers/gate sales

Lillooet Food Matters
District of Lillooet
Farmer’s Market
Community Directories
Lillooet Radio
Community Gardens
Food Bank / Friendship Centre
Farmers and Growers
Band Offices / Councils
Health Care Workers
Statimc Health HUB
100 Mile, Clinton, etc food security groups
Real Estate agencies
Lillooet Chamber of Commerce
Ministry of Agriculture
Concerned Citizens

~ orchards (see also GLEANING PROJECT below)
~ growers
~ skills
~ merchants who sell local food and value-added products
~ existing and potential community garden sites

Farmers & Food Growers
Individual Land Owners
Lillooet Farmer’s Market
District of Lillooet
Youth / Youth workers
existing Community Gardens
mapping consultant


  1. The formatting went funny when I published this - if you would like a copy emailed to you, or dare I say, mailed by snail mail, please send me a note: smithygilly@gmail.com, and I'd be happy to send you a nicer copy!

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. I'm glad I finally found the time to read this thoroughly. Very professional write-up Gillian.

  4. Thank you. Very well done. We appreciate your publishing this!!!