The Fields Forward Story
The Fields Forward Society story began in 2016, when more than 80 members of the Creston & District agricultural community met to discuss the industry’s general wellbeing. Participants learned the Creston Valley annually generates $27.5M of the $34.4M food production market in the Central Kootenay region — and on only 50 per cent of its available agricultural land.
We also learned that the diversity of the Creston region (from Yahk to Yaqan Nukiy to Riondel) was its greatest opportunity — and challenge. Fields Forward heard that local producers needed everything from grain milling to cheese aging to meat processing to flash freezing to realize the full value of their crops.
In response, Fields Forward Society was formed to sustainably accelerate Creston’s diverse and enormous agricultural potential. Modelled on the Vermont’s Farm to Plate program, the team developed a targeted, multi-phased action plan to create new systems for:
More food and farm activity in the region.
Greater access to value-added opportunities for food producers.
Supports for existing and emerging farmers.
Applicable education, training, and extension for food producers.
Our team guides an enterprise-driven approach to building food production capacity. That is, instead of building a centralized manufacturing facility for every type of food producer in the region, we focus on strategic food infrastructure additions and local marketing initiatives. Our Kootenay Farms Food Hub Innovation Centre and Kootenay Mobile Fruit & Vegetable Press exemplify this focus.
Today, the Fields Forward Society is a flourishing non-profit organization with a volunteer Board of Directors of regional farmers/food producers and community food leaders. We are committed to developing a vibrant local agri-food system.
Developing a climate adaptation decision-aid toolkit by installing a network of weather stations throughout the valley.
Building the Kootenay Farms Food Hub Innovation Centre.
Piloting Kootenay Farms Marketplace, an online ordering service for local Creston Valley products fall of 2018 to February 2020.
Purchasing the Kootenay Mobile Fruit & Vegetable Press, a mobile unit to process, pasteurize and package juice from culled apples, pears, carrots, beets, cherries, and berries.
Creating a Covid-19 Coordinator training program for orchardists in 2020.
Hosting ‘Press Fests’ in 2017 and 2018 with the Kootenay Mobile Fruit & Vegetable Press at regional elementary schools to teach children about food manufacturing and the advantages of fresh-pressed fruit juice.
As of 2022, we at Fields Forward have fulfilled a number of our goals by:
Fields Forward Initiative
KOOTENAY MOBILE FRUIT & VEGETABLE PRESS
In 2017, Fields Forward purchased a Kootenay Mobile Fruit & Vegetable Press, a movable unit that processes, pasteurizes and packages up to 750 litres of apple, pear, carrot, beet, cherry, and berry juices per hour, or 20,000 pounds of fruit per day. This assembly of industry-scale machines not only creates new products but reduces culled fruit that would otherwise be sent to a landfill.
In 2020, due to COVID-19 restrictions, the service became stationary. In 2021, the mobile press service was moved into the Food Hub.
Our press was initially designed to be transported directly to orchard sites, which minimized transportation costs for orchardists, and allowed fruit to be juiced promptly. Another advantage: waste mash was kept on site for composting or used as feed for animals.
Contact us for more information on booking and using the Kootenay Mobile Fruit & Vegetable Press at the Food Hub.
Meet the Board and Staff behind the Food Hub and Fields Forward, who work hard to serve the Creston & District agricultural community.