Last year, the Province of B.C. announced the expansion of the their Feed BC program to include 11 more institutes to their initial nine established ones back in 2021. Feed BC is a program by the province committed to growing B.C.’s local food industry. Among the slew of institutes that were registered to the program was Nicola Valley Institute of Technology (NVIT).
NVIT’s current culinary program offering sources local food ingredients for their student work. The Herald had the chance to speak with Executive Chef Kim Wallace of NVIT to learn more about how they incorporate local suppliers to their culinary education program.
“It’s a program that we’ve just implemented,” said Wallace. “It started with the Chef that I took over for. We support local products, and by that I mean we try our best to serve from ‘farm to fork’.”
Wallace took hold of NVIT’s culinary program at the beginning of the fall semester in 2021. Since then he has been employing the service of different farmers and butchers from the Nicola Valley.
“I’m 100 percent satisfied with everything, especially the relationships that we at NVIT are making,” said Wallace. “It’s great to get into the community. When it comes to B.C., we have such a broad range of resources, products, and local farmers that it is really fantastic to have so much sources to choose from.”
For greenery NVIT sources their needs from Lower Nicola’s Shulus Gardens. The culinary program acquires vegetables, herbs, and even honey from the garden. Culinary students not only get a chance to utilize produce from the garden but even grow it themselves.
“The solarium adjacent to our PC1 lab kitchen is used for us to grow herbs, micro greens, and vegetables,” he said. “Shulus Gardens brings in plants that we maintain through the winter months.”
When it comes to meats, the program collaborates with Kuiper Ranch. NVIT works with Paul Belt and the ranch to ‘meat’ all of their needs.
“We work with them to source local meat products,” said Wallace. “Three weeks ago, before the students’ break, we purchased a side of beef and we went to a local butcher, utilizing their services as well.”
Wallace explained that local butcher Greg Gould, has been a person that NVIT has collaborated with as he has machinery for meat cutting not presently available on campus.
“We outsource locally to his place and got our meat divided into primary cuts and secondary cuts.”
Wallace also notes that he gets products from Gordon Food Service, which also provides products that are local to B.C.
Feed B.C. works retroactively and Wallace explains that based on the figure he sends in, B.C. will decide on the amount of funding they will award NVIT with. NVIT’s purchases from March of last year, all the way to April of this year will be calculated.
“We’re still working on the amount and will be taking the cafeteria costs into account, so it’s a work in progress.”
As presently constructed, the culinary program only offers Professional Cooking Level 1 (PC1) to students. PC2 program is currently being prepared to launch in April, with the hopes of forming a PC3 course afterwards. The expansion of the program will increase its need for local products, helping the Feed B.C. initiative even further.
“This is a first for NVIT,” said Wallace. “We will have the time in the warmer months to get into Shulus Garden and work directly in the garden in obtaining local produce.”