Doug Gordon, owner and beekeeper of The Okanagan Honey Co., was one of eight agriculture entrepreneurs in the inaugural REACH program that began in October 2020. (Mike Babott/Rhythm Productions)

Doug Gordon, owner and beekeeper of The Okanagan Honey Co., was one of eight agriculture entrepreneurs in the inaugural REACH program that began in October 2020. (Mike Babott/Rhythm Productions)

REACH returns to boost North Okanagan ag industry workers

Program equips entrepreneurs with tools to ‘stay strong and resilient’

A pilot project helping those in the agricultural sector was such a success it’s making a comeback this year.

The REACH program, through Community Futures North Okanagan (CFNO), equips participants with the tools and support needed to scale up and succeed.

“When we introduced the program, we sought to bring the agricultural business community greater support in identifying opportunities that will help them stay strong and resilient,” CFNO business services manager Kazia Mullin said.

“Now that we’ve seen how great the need is and what a difference it makes, we wanted to bring this opportunity to more producers.”

Okanagan Honey Co. owner and beekeeper Doug Gordon said the program helped put real data into what he was doing, “instead of going on intuition.”

“You don’t know,” he said. “You might be spending half of your time on something that only makes you 10 per cent of your profit. It was really nice to get all those numbers, put them all on paper, and figure out what’s actually happening.”

Starting in October, the 22-week program will move participants through five phases of business development to identify gaps and opportunities.

REACH members will participate in workshops, network and gain access to grants on a federal and provincial level throughout the course.

Members will also engage in a one-on-one coaching program with facilitator Andrea Gunner, leading agrologist and agricultural consultant.

“It’s such a delight to very gently guide people and watch them take flight,” says Gunner. “The business growth that has happened through the program is incredibly inspiring.”

Upon completion in March, participants will leave with a plan paving the way to reach both short and long-term business goals.

To learn more and apply for the REACH program, funded by Accelerate Okanagan and the Regional District of North Okanagan, visit www.futuresbc.com/reach. The deadline for applications is Sept. 30.

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