Causing a stir…

Coming soon to the North Shore is Kamloops Food Policy Council’s (KFPC’s) latest venture: The Stir. Located at 185 Royal Avenue, the soon-to-be food hub is finishing construction that started last spring. While The Stir is not only a building but a network of support and resources, the physical space is a significant part of what The Stir is. 

The guiding purpose of The Stir is to help up-and-coming food business owners by providing support in the kitchen and in the office. The rentable, HACCP-eligible commercial kitchen is well-outfitted with a 20-gallon steam kettle, a semi-automatic filling line for packaging, a commercial convection oven, a walk-in cooler and freezer, and a 40-gallon tilting skillet in addition to two large dehydrators. This means that even a single person can dramatically scale up their business by making more product in a time-efficient way. Imagine going from a few dozen of canned jars a day to over a thousand!

Rent of the kitchen is based on a pay-for-what-you-use model, to make it as affordable as possible for users. There is also storage space for specialized equipment belonging to members of The Stir that might not be feasible to buy (yet).

The front of The Stir is mostly a storefront and community gathering space, called The Stirfront, where Stir Makers can sell their goods. There is also a seed library and a community bookshelf which features KFPC’s book club’s book of the month. Between The Stirfront and the kitchen is an open room connected to a small office that will be used for community events and workshops. The small office will be available for the small business owners renting the kitchen to use to work on the business side of things.

In the office, The Stir provides business coaching to members and exposure through selling products in The Stirfront and through social media. Between the business help and making it easier for small businesses to scale up, it will be even simpler for them to start selling their goods in large grocery stores, making it more straightforward for them to access the general public and for the general public to access them.

While the space is nearly finished inside, like everything else, The Stir was affected by the current rise in construction costs and extended shipping times. In the spirit of being green (and cost-efficient), nearly all of the equipment in the commercial kitchen is second-hand. Only the two large dehydrators were bought new. There were hurdles to be overcome during this process, such as doubling the electricity capacity to the kitchen, and making an agreement with the neighbours to cut a hole through their fence so the construction trucks could get to the back of the building. 

While the Royal Ave location has been a large part of The Stir, it is actually the second phase of the entire project. The first phase of The Stir involved helping fund the new Gardengate Training Center’s commercial kitchen that will be shared between their horticultural therapy program and food hub members. The Stir also helped fund Kweseltken Kitchen, a staffed mobile food processing trailer that teaches people in rural indigenous communities food preservation methods. What’s coming next from The Stir remains to be seen but there is hope of having an eating area in the back lot, perhaps even with a food truck a few days a week. It is a beautiful location backed right up onto the Thompson River that would be a shame to not take full advantage of. 

The Stir will be opening its doors soon. There are already prospective Stir Makers but anyone interested in starting a food business or scaling up their existing food business is encouraged to contact them to find out more.

If you would like to further support this initiative to support local food business owners, The Stir, as a part of Kamloops Food Policy Council, gratefully accepts donations towards their efforts and can issue charitable tax receipts. 

Note: The Stir is funded by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Fisheries. 

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