The 9th Annual Cheese! It’s a Natural! festival is coming up on March 18th and 19th, and this year these is something for everyone to connect to our local food, including:
- Local Food & Buyers Mixer (Friday March 18, 2022 | 4pm to 6:30pm | Hassen Arena – Armstrong):
New this year, this industry-only event brings together local food growers, processors and buyers. Interested in meeting prospective
retailers? Don’t miss this! Non-exhibiting producers welcome.
- 9th Annual Cheese! It’s a Natural Festival (Saturday, March 19, 2022 | 9am to 3pm | Hassen Arena – Armstrong)
This annual event is open to the public, giving vendors the opportunity to showcase their produce and products and meet those who are interested in increasing the local products in their pantry.
- Experts on Tap and Producer Resources (Tuesday Mar 8, 2022 | 12pm – 2pm | Online): This online event, featuring industry experts, helped producers elevate their businesses and gain new listings and retail opportunities. Plus, the panel offered tips and tricks for exhibiting and preparing for upcoming events. Missed the event? We posted a recap and a recording here.
Local Food & Buyers Mixer
Friday March 18, 2022 | 4pm to 6:30pm | Hassen Arena - Armstrong
New this year, this industry-only event brings together local food growers, processors and buyers. Vendors will have the opportunity to showcase their produce and products and meet our region’s buyers, including restaurants, hotels and retailers, who are interested in increasing the local products they use, stock and sell.
For local producers and processors, this event provides a great opportunity to sell to two audiences over 2 days: to local buyers during this Mixer event, and to the public on Saturday during the 9th annual Cheese…It’s a Natural event.
For regional buyers, this event provides the opportunity to connect with the local food available here. Buyers, register by March 1st to receive a local food tasting package and complimentary beverage at Friday’s event!
Registration is free. To register, email email@example.com and indicate the event(s) you would like to participate in.
9th Annual Cheese! It's a Natural Festival
Saturday, March 19, 2022 | 9am to 3pm | Hassen Arena - Armstrong
Tastings, seminars, displays, grilled cheese and cheeseball competition, and more! This annual event is open to the public and features artisan cheese producers and makers of local products.
Interested in being a vendor? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and indicate the event(s) you would like to participate in. Registration is free.
And to stay on top of the latest event updates, be sure to join our Facebook event.
Below are the webinar and resources from Mandi Lunan, Food Business Coach, that will demystify the world of wholesaling and set you up for success during this event series and beyond. Topics covered include:
- Why wholesale your product?
- What to do before you jump in
- Paperwork and regulations
- Setting professional boundaries
- Packaging and labeling best practices
- Contract terminology
- Growing and maintaining relationships
- And more!
Past Event: Experts on Tap
Tuesday Mar 8, 2022 | 12pm - 2pm | Online
Join industry experts for a live discussion that will help prepare you for growth and set you up for success with new listings and retail opportunities.
Before the discussion, you’ll have access to a webinar and resources from Mandi Lunan, Food Business Coach—a startup guide for wholesaling your products. Mandi’s lighthearted and engaging webinar will familiarize you with all aspects of preparing your business to sell to grocery stores, cafes, local shops, online marketplaces and more. The webinar and resources are below, at the end of page!
Then, bring your questions to our live discussion on March 8th where our panel will help you elevate your business and offer tips and tricks for exhibiting and preparing for the two main events: the Local Food and Buyers Mixer and the 9th annual Cheese! It’s a Natural festival.
Our panel of experts:
- Ari Defrel – Kootenay Co-op General Manager
- Andrea Gunner – Agrologist, and Agricultural Economist & Farmer, North Okanagan
- Coco Seitz – Owner of Mama’s Dumplings & Advanced Logistics (distribution business)
- Mandi Lunan – Food Business Coach
Registration is free. To register, visit:
Ari Derfel - General Manager, Kootenay Coop
Ari Derfel is the General Manager of the Kootenay Co-op, the largest, member-owned cooperative grocery in Canada, located in Nelson, British Columbia. Over the span of his 25-year career, Ari has been an entrepreneur, restaurateur, executive coach, strategic consultant, food systems advocate, mountain guide & public speaker. His academic career spans the University of Wisconsin, Harvard, Georgetown, UCLA & Cambridge University in England.
He is the co-founder of the award-winning Gather restaurant in Berkeley, known for its outstanding cuisine, sustainable food and beverage programs, design, and financing strategies. The NY Times called Gather, “a Michael Pollan book come to life” and Esquire Magazine named Gather one of the Best New Restaurants in the US in 2010. Ari also co-founded Back to Earth in 2001, the first exclusively organic catering and event production company in the world.
Ari currently serves as the President of the Central Kootenay Food Policy Council (CKFPC). The purpose of the Council is to be the formal bridge between local government and the many civil society and industry organizations working on food systems in the region, from hunger and food access to farming and waste management. He also serves on the Board of Community Foods Market, the first full service-grocery in urban West Oakland, California in nearly a quarter century.
He is also the former Executive Director of Slow Money, a national organization, with chapters across the US and abroad, focused on catalyzing investment in Local Food Systems.
Andrea Gunner - Agrologist, and Agricultural Economist & Farmer, North Okanagan
Andrea is both an agricultural economist and an organic farmer. She has been involved in a number of projects connecting agricultural producers with consumers in sustainable and economically viable systems for many years.
As an agricultural economist with a horticultural background, she has worked in farm business management at both primary and value-added processing levels for farm and food processing clients, producer co-operatives, farmers markets, first nations, industry associations and government at many levels. She has worked in sectors as diverse as ginseng, landscape nursery, nutraceuticals and organic grain cleaning and processing.
She and her husband run a certified organic pastured poultry operation raising roasting chickens and turkeys on a small acreage in the North Okanagan, building soil depth on glacial till through intensive rotational grazing, mentoring satellite farms and directly supplying over 700 households in the Thompson Okanagan. As well, Andrea is a managing partner in a provincially licensed poultry processing facility. Off the farm, she is an avid river paddler and enjoys competitive rallying on forest service roads throughout the BC Interior.
Coco Seitz - Owner of Mama’s Dumplings & Advanced Logistics (distribution business), operating in Cranbrook, BC
Mama’s Dumplings has offered authentic Northern Chinese style dumplings since 2014. It was founded by Ningmeng, also known as Coco, who immigrated to Canada from Jilin China in 2009. To fulfill the needs for authentic Chinese food in the community, Coco started making these delicious pockets of joy to share with friends and family using family traditional recipes. From there the business has been expanded to have a mobile food truck that travels around the Kootenays and the dumplings are available in stores and restaurants. The dumplings are handcrafted in Cranbrook BC with quality local meat and organic vegetables. Coco named it “Mama’s Dumplings” to honor her mom and grandma, who inspired her love for good food.
Mandi Lunan - Food Business Coach
Mandi has been advising food based business owners in North America since 2016. As well as being a business coach, she has over a decade of real life distribution and small business ownership under her apron, having owned a speciality baked goods company and incorporates her experiences into her engaging, practical and informative webinars.
Mandi is renowned for her empathy, humor, and real life approach to the culinary business world.
You can read more about her at foodbusinesscoach.com