The BC Food Systems Network’s annual Gathering was from July 5 through July 8, 2012, at Camp Fircom on Gambier Island.

The theme of the Gathering was Reclaiming our Food Systems: Policy and Practice. A food system is defined as the resources and processes that are required to feed a population. It includes producing, processing, shipping, storing, selling and consuming food, as well as the management of waste associated with all of these processes. Most of our current food policy supports the industrial food system. One of the goals of the Network is to develop and advocate policies to redesign food systems to alleviate hunger and promote sustainability – food policy that places community food security as the highest priority.

The Gathering was a blend of scheduled workshops, presentations and activities with unstructured time and space to encourage informal sharing, socializing or quiet contemplation. During the Gathering there were opportunities to explore exciting initiatives that reclaim elements of the food system as well as discussions about the network’s policy priorities, including water rights and access, food labelling and GMOs, agricultural land use and urban agriculture, to name a few.

The purpose of the Annual Gatherings is to bring the Network together to share their experiences and initiatives, to build new relationships and to strengthen existing ones. The Gathering is about connecting people and drawing on the wisdom and expertise that exists within the Network. The Gathering Committee encourages all of you to share your knowledge and ideas on how to create a valuable experience for everyone.

Gambier Island is in the Howe Sound, in the traditional territory of the Coast Salish people. The camp is on the south west side of the island and is only accessible by water taxi from Horseshoe Bay, about 30 minutes from downtown Vancouver or a 90 minute ferry ride from Nanaimo. The camp was recently renovated and offers many recreational opportunities, including beach access and hiking trails.

Every year since 1999 the Network has gathered together somewhere in BC to share knowledge, experience, and wisdom from the grassroots. This annual Gathering was a celebration of our food systems and a coming-together of traditional and indigenous food skills with research and new developments on the ground.

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