Meet our 10 finalists
Ty James is the President and CEO of West Coast Micro Green Inc. He is an entrepreneur and farmer who is motivated by his passion and creativity in the agri-food sector.
How is your project "smart" and aligned to the themes of Smart South Island?
Our project creates a modern agriculture development zone that acts as a bridge between regional farmers, distributors and consumers, bolstering regional food security by developing infrastructure and services to support agricultural processing activities.
How was the final concept determined?
Our final concept was determined by witnessing the amount of product wasted each season on our farm. We began talking to other farms and quickly realized that this problem was prevalent. We saw opportunity in creating capacity for businesses that want to develop their companies and ideas, as well as innovate and network within the food and agriculture industry.
How does your concept name explain itself?
The proposed South Island Fruit and Vegetable Processing Facility would act as an Agricultural Business Park and Food Innovation Centre, offering yearly growth potential for farmers and businesses that work with us, while creating the capacity to be scaled and improved upon with each generation.
Where else in Canada or the world could you see your project being effective?
We see our project being effectively reproduced in areas where there is a high concentration of farming activity with minimal processing support services.
What was the biggest challenge in creating your concept?
The biggest challenge for us in creating our concept is finding appropriate space for a regional facility. Not only is land very expensive in Victoria but finding land in Saanich with proper zoning that is close to farming activity is our biggest hurdle.
What has been the most enjoyable part of creating your concept?
Working with farmers to understand what is missing from their production, supply and distribution system. Learning this has allowed us to gain a unique insight into farmers’ specific needs and requirements.
If you could select any well-known person to endorse your project, who would it be and why?
Justin Trudeau, because we believe that through a public/private partnership, our concept could help Canadian farmers and agribusinesses increase economic growth through product diversification, increasing exports of Canadian commodities.
If you could include any partner(s) within your concept who would they be and why?
Jeff Bezos, because we see this as a concept that aligns directly with the future of food systems that we believe are being developed under Amazon’s FBA fulfillment centers as they continue to develop their business model into the food sector.
What long-term impact do you envision about your project?
We envision greater Island food security, regional economic growth and improved human health as the three pillars of our project’s implementation.
Why is Smart South Island important to our Region?
Today, Vancouver Island produces only 10% of the food that is consumed here on an annual basis and imports 90%, whereas, 50 years ago Vancouver Island produced 90% and imported 10%. To increase Vancouver Island food security and achieve a healthy, sustainable and prosperous future we must invest in infrastructure that will lead to economic growth and allow for greater production, processing, storage and distribution capacity, resulting in a smarter, healthier, and more resilient Island food system.