Growing Connections Handbook

Growing Connections


With an increasing number of farms in the Cowichan Region, and an increasing priority to shop locally, strategies are needed to help connect farmers and purchasers to capitalize on market opportunities. Growing Connections: a handbook for purchasers & farmers in the Cowichan Region is designed to help farmers and purchasers navigate the local food supply chain and strengthen the local food economy.

Growing Connections is a resource for farmers, chefs and retails purchasers, including vegetable agencies, distributors, wholesalers, grocery stores and harvest box programs.

The handbook encompasses 5 sections

  • Understanding the purchaser – Designed for farmers, this section details the requirements and preferences of different types of purchasers and provides information to help farmers build business relationships with purchasers. This section includes directories of retail purchasers, agencies, and chef organizations.
  • Understanding the farmer – Designed for purchasers, this section details how to best form business relationships with farmers, and discusses ways to profit from switching to local purchasing. This section includes a seasonality chart of Cowichan Region products.
  • Understanding the policy – Provides a comprehensive review of food safety policy for all farm products, and regulations affecting supply managed products. This section includes a directory of abattoirs in the region.
  • Understanding the potential – Details stories of farmers and purchasers working together to transform traditional supply chains into value chains. An inspiration to both farms and purchasers!
  • In the field – These sections are interspersed throughout the handbook and are a collection of exemplary farmers and purchasers in the region, who are creating and capitalizing on niche opportunities.

View the Growing Connections document online, click the download button below!

Growing Connections was created as part of the Cowichan Agriculture Market Research Project, a six month research project funded by the Government of Canada and the Province of British Columbia [link to CGC funders page] in 2013. A team of three researchers from the Cowichan Green Community, under the guidance of an advisory committee of local farmers, chefs, a wholesale purchaser, a processor, an agrologist and an academic, responded to the expressed need for agriculture market research through the development of this project. Research was conducted through on-line surveys, focus groups, and interviews with farmers and purchasers. The qualitative and quantitative data was analyzed, and formed the basis for producing Growing Connections. To learn more about the background and research methodology of the project, see pages 2-11 of the handbook. The research also identified a need for a farmer and purchaser networking event, as a result, the handbook was launched at a very successful networking evening held at Alderlea farm and café.