When the government of British Columbia decided to invest $1.5 million to help BC producers and processors promote local foods, the Investment Agriculture Foundation took on the challenge to ensure funds were delivered to industry effectively and efficiently.

Within just over a year, IAF staff assisted with applications and approved funding to 38 different projects led by local agriculture and agri-food businesses and organizations to boost their marketing efforts.

The extra funding was a boon for local producers and agri-tourism destinations like Coastal Black Estate Winery on Vancouver Island. The award-winning winery and berry farm received $16,300 in Buy Local funding to expand its marketing approach to achieve greater consumer awareness of their products.

“The funding meant we were able to really focus on our local advertising targets, and extend our reach beyond what we are normally able to do,” says Abel O’Brennan, owner and winemaker. “We saw a huge increase in traffic at the tasting room over the year before. It’s hard to calculate the synergies that develop from that, but there is definitely long-term value from this program for us.”

The BC New Tree Fruit Varieties Development Council invested $50,000 from the BC Buy Local program into expanding markets and promoting one of the BC apple industry’s great homegrown success stories – the Ambrosia apple.

“Trying to find money for promotions when farmers are having such a tough time isn’t always easy,” says Bruce Currie, chair of the New Tree Fruit Varieties Development Council. “The matching funding made possible for us to attend many more venues within BC and interact with a lot more consumers in areas that haven’t had as much exposure to Ambrosia apples like northern BC and Vancouver Island.”

The council used the funds to enhance a consumer awareness campaign for the apple including tastings at public events, and new signage and educational materials. The campaign also has a strong online presence, including the renewal of the ambrosiaapples.com website with videos of growers and chefs, along with a social media campaign.

For Hopcott Farms, $16,883 in Buy Local funding helped the third-generation family farm share their story with consumers and promote their locally-raised beef.

“The video and advertising we produced with the aid of Buy Local funding, along with the special events we hosted at our farm created new opportunities to interface with our community,” says Sarah Hopcott. “Helping the public get to know their local farmers is good for business and good for the agriculture community as a whole.”

Funding: $1.5 million through the BC Government’s Buy Local Program.