The Islands Agriculture Show is sure to draw a crowd at the Cowichan Exhibition grounds this weekend. (Citizen file)

Islands Agriculture Show explores cannabis and food security

Event runs Feb. 7 and 8 at Cowichan Exhibition Park near Duncan

The 2020 Islands Agriculture show will explore cannabis opportunities, food processing initiatives and other exciting topics as part of this year’s show, Feb. 7 and 8 at the Cowichan Exhibition Park.

The Islands Agriculture Show is the only agricultural trade show serving the farm and food community on Vancouver Island, the Coast and Gulf Islands. It is a venue for farmers, rural landowners, farm organizations, equipment dealers, service providers and the general public to learn, connect and engage.

This year’s theme is Cultivating Connections Spreading Prosperity.

The show features a trade show with more than 70 vendors, opportunities for children to learn about where food comes from and farm machinery, as well as two days of engaging conference sessions.

There are four distinct conference topics at the show, featuring Gerry Friesen, The Recovering Farmer, as a keynote speaker. Friesen’s presentation, titled “Pigs, Politics and Diet Coke: Stories from a Recovering Farmer”, shares tales of farming, relationships and tips on how to survive difficult times.

One topic, sure to turn heads, looks at opportunities for farmers to diversify their income and support their livelihoods through cannabis production.

“Cannabis is a topic that has many people scratching their heads, wondering if it is a threat or an opportunity for farming, and not knowing what the options are,” said show organizer, Shari Paterson.

“With cannabis legal since 2018, now is an opportune moment to investigate this topic together with the island’s farming community.”

A policy overview will be provided by folks at the federal and provincial governments, followed by presentations by two Vancouver Island farmers adding cannabis to their crop selection, with the intention of supporting food security.

A panel session will outline some next steps and challenges for farmers wanting to get into the cannabis industry.

Other topics on the agenda include new farmers, regulatory, and food processing. On food processing, Economic Development Cowichan has been working closely with the Small Scale Food Processors Association on a study to quantify the demand and potential for local food in the Cowichan region, as well as to examine what is needed to create a food processing hub.

The food processing topic at the show will explore the implications of this study for the region, and will include such topics as how to go about selling to a food processor, senior care facility or other institutional buyer.

Entry to the show is $5, conference sessions are $20 per day per person (pre-registration) and $25 per day per person (drop in).

For more info and to register, visit www.iashow.ca.

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