Home Sweet Home Field School takes sustainable food on the road

In May, SFU CED  program graduate Diandra Oliver was one of four CED Social Innovation Challenge winners. She was awarded $5000 to travel through Northern B.C. and teach rural communities how to build their local food economies.  Just two months later, Diandra has already packed up her car and hit the road. Between now and July 27, the Home Sweet Home Field School will be visiting Revelstoke, Burns Lake, Terrace, Hazelton and Telkwa, delivering free workshops on a range of food-business related topics, from business development to local policy.

Home Sweet Home was started three years ago by Diandra and her friend Laura Sapergia as a small grocery store in Prince George, specializing in local food products at an accessible price. As they grew the project into a successful business, Oliver and Sapergia found that their customers wanted more than just locally-produced groceries: they were also looking for advice.

“We were surprised by how many people would ask us questions about how they could start their own local food business,” says Diandra. “Some people wanted to know what grew well in our community and what they could sell. Others were interested in how they could develop value-added food products into a market ready item. Our storefront quickly evolved into a community space where people could support a local economic initiative and gain skills and knowledge to be more active in that economy themselves.”

In response, the Home Sweet Home duo began to expand their vision from one successful grocery store to an economic development project supporting local food businesses and their communities.

“Home Sweet Home is an incredibly successful example of the potential of the local food economy in rural British Columbia,” says Laura. “What communities lack is knowledge. People want to know what works or what is legal and food safe or how to connect with customers. Communities want to know how they can encourage more local food producers. We want to help find solutions.”

Diandra and Laura launched the Home Sweet Home Field School, and now with the seed funding from our Social Innovation Challenge, they have set off to tour the Interior and Northern B.C.

“Diandra pitched the Home Sweet Home Field School for our annual Social Innovation Challenge,” says SFU CED Program Director Nicole Chaland. “Her passion is infectious, her vision for how to create sustainable and strong economies in the North is well reasoned and she has proven her capability with Home Sweet Home. We are thrilled to support her and her business partner to do this work.”

Home Sweet Home Field School Schedule

All Home Sweet Home Field School workshops are free, and everyone is welcome to register online

Wednesday, July 20th: Burns Lake

Thursday, July 21st: Terrace

Monday, July 25th: Hazelton

Tuesday, July 26th: Hazelton

Wednesday, July 27th: Telkwa

Home Sweet Home is planning another tour for later in the summer. Contact Diandra Oliver if you are interested in inviting Home Sweet Home to your community. Available workshops include:

  • Food Business Micro-Incubator (4 hours): This workshop invites six current or future food business owners to bring their ideas or challenges to a supportive, feedback-driven environment. Participants will have the opportunity to workshop their ideas with their peers as well as the Home Sweet Home founders. All kinds of food businesses (non-profit, social enterprise, co-op, partnership, sole proprietor) are invited to the table. Let’s get your business off the ground, together!
  • Food Policy + Practice Idea Jam (2 hours): Home Sweet Home will review your community’s food policies and together with local government representatives, planners, and food community stakeholders will identify ways to increase success with local food policies and practices.
  • Settler Responsibility in Local Food Communities (2 hours): Non-Indigenous participants and other settlers in the local food economy are responsible for taking the first step in repairing and building relationships, adapting policies and practices to include provisions for colonial reparations, and supporting Indigenous communities to decolonize their local food economy. This workshop uses a Food Justice framework to create a space for settlers to address systems of power in local food that they may uphold and perpetuate, increasing their skills and strategies for decolonizing local food systems and economies.
  • Conflict Resolution in Local Food Organizing (2 hours): This workshop will support citizens and stakeholders to identify and address strategies for rebuilding relationships or reorienting their work in community with empathy, compassion and forgiveness.
  • Branding Your Food Business (2 hours): Participants will learn about the elements of an attractive brand, what makes an effective strategy, and how to design and implement your brand for your food business.

HSH Field School is funded in part by the Simon Fraser University CED Social Innovation Challenge, Home Sweet Home, and local government and community organizations.

[Top image: Home Sweet Home founders Diandra Oliver (l) and Laura Sapergia (r)]