Port Alberni is known as a logging town but less so as a sea-to-shore, breadbasket of food production. Local farmers, fishers and foragers have joined forces to market and sell the region’s culinary bounty through a new food hub called Dock +.
“We have the possibility of sharing marketing and retail strategies, even labour, with the others,” 39-year-old Ben Patarin, part of the French husband/wife duo who started Forest for Dinner, said in a story reported by Edible Vancouver Island.
Their company is one of a handful of food-based businesses, including Effingham Oysters, Cascadia Seaweed, Flurer Smokery, Forest for Dinner, Nova Harvest Ltd., and Hatch to Harvest, have already taken up residence in the repurposed, 17,000 square foot fish processing plant on the Port Alberni waterfront.
“Being a part of this community will be incredible,” said 36-year-old Amber Putsey, about relocating her Vancouver-based gourmet soup company, Hatch to Harvest, to the town where she grew up. “I’m looking forward to bringing my skills and experience together with new people as we grow alongside each other. I wouldn’t want to be doing this on my own, in my little corner.”
“Every day, we’re discovering more potential,” said Knezevic Zoran, the Port Alberni Port Authority’s CEO and president, about the number of small-scale food processors wanting to sign up.
In addition to the farm production, seaweed, salmon and trout, wild mushrooms, and a host of other forest edibles are regularly foraged and harvested.
Dock+ belongs to a growing BC-wide network of food hubs aimed at fostering culinary collaboration.