The Cowichan Valley Co-Operative Marketplace is getting about $100,000 in provincial funding to set up a contactless delivery service. (Cow-op.ca screenshot)

Cow-op gets $100K to develop contactless fresh food delivery

“The past few months have highlighted the importance of food security”

The Cow-op is getting $100,000 from the provincial government to develop a home delivery system to bring people locally grown farm food — COVID-19 safe.

The Cowichan Valley Co-Operative Marketplace, a non-profit farmer and food processor co-operative, will receive the money to hire two new staff to develop a contactless home delivery system, keeping people safe from COVID-19, while supporting farmers and processors in the region.

The Cow-op is an initiative of the Cowichan Valley Co-operative Marketplace in partnership with Cowichan Green Community. It has been providing an online marketplace for locally grown and harvested food since 2014.

“When the main sales avenues for local farmers disappeared during the pandemic, the Cowichan Valley Co-operative Marketplace and its online farmers market, Cow-op.ca, became a lifeline for them,” said Derrick Pawlowski, executive director, Cow-op.ca. “We are thrilled to provide a wide range of experiences to participants and hopefully will inspire more passionate work in the sectors of food security, natural resources and agriculture, and sales and services.”

The provincial Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction is providing the funding to Cow-op through the Job Creation Partnership stream of WorkBC’s Community and Employer Partnerships.

“The past few months have highlighted the importance of food security, as well as adaptability to deliver food from farm to table during COVID-19,” said Shane Simpson, minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “Looking forward, Cow-op’s innovative contactless home delivery system will provide training and work experience for two local individuals, while developing a safe way to deliver fresh, healthy food to buyers and supporting farmers to grow and sell their products sustainably.”

Cowichan Valley MLA Sonia Furstenau is on board with the project.

“I’m pleased to see that the Cow-op marketplace will continue to build on their model of providing fresh local food from field to front door. This service directly supports the health and well-being of families in the agriculture business and those who enjoy their products, and helps build food security and resiliency in Cowichan.”

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