COMOX VALLEY – For those wanting to partake in a “100 Mile Diet”, there is perhaps no better location to do that than in the Comox Valley.

A larger than average number of agriculture and aquaculture companies dots the area’s map, as well as numerous wineries and distilleries. All of which add significantly to the local economy, creating hundreds of well paying jobs.

“It’s not just our geography that makes the Comox Valley an attractive place for agrifood and aquaculture operations,” notes Comox Valley Economic Development Society CEO John Watson.

“It’s the people behind these operations, the ones that have chosen to live and invest here. It’s no coincidence that the reason they have come is because the Comox Valley is not only open for business, but it’s an easier place to open a business and get operations up and running quickly.”

Strategic plans unveiled years ago recognized opportunities in the agrifood, seafood and beverage industries, and CVEDS members and directors made the decision to target potential operators to explore the Comox Valley as home to their operations.

The strategy has worked, as the number and variety of companies in these sectors testifies to its success.

It was CVEDS/Invest Comox Valley that created the immensely popular BC Seafood Festival, scheduled this year for June 7-16 throughout the Comox Valley.

Designed to showcase the area’s wide variety of seafood producers and eateries, it attracts hundreds of buyers, as well as many more visitors.

Invest Comox Valley held a special promotional Media, VIP and Chef Event March 12 at Pacific Yacht Charters in Vancouver, moored in front of the Westin Bayshore Hotel. Hundreds of people showed up to taste food and beverage prepared by chefs from Locals and Blackfin Pub, and other famous chefs from the lower mainland, including Mardy Ra and celebrity TV chef Nathan Fong.

Invest Comox Valley has hosted these events in years past, and they’ve proven to be a key to enticing buyers to the Festival, where they make connections to purchase products and sign supplier contracts.

Through successful companies like Fanny Bay Oysters, Mac’s Oysters and Pentlatch Seafoods Ltd. – which has worldwide sales of over two million oysters per year – the Comox Valley produces the most oysters in Canada, and the most shellfish in B.C.

It is also home to the head office of the BC Shellfish Growers Association, and the primary products produced are clams and oysters.Investor opportunities in the local shellfish industry include purchases of smaller scale operating farms, and capital investment in growing corporations, as well as developing seed nurseries, producing new species and processing.

Over 50% of B.C.’s cultured shellfish is already produced in Baynes Sound, and demand for shellfish from the clean waters of B.C. is increasing rapidly. The primary products, at this point, are clams and oysters although there are emerging opportunities to produce other species such as geoducks, sea cucumbers and urchins, amongst others.

The variety of agrifood products grown, harvested and made in the Comox Valley is extensive.

Beaver Meadow Farms/Natural Pastures Cheese & Beef

They produce a number of bries and camemberts, including Amsterdammer and Boerenkaas, and their ever expanding variety of cheese made from Water Buffalo milk includes mozzarellas, bries, cream cheeses and feta.

Big D’s Bees

This is a family owned and operated honey farm at the popular Coastal Black Estate Winery in Black Creek. They are bee keepers throughout the year, and sell berries and pumpkins.

Daniel Ludwig explains that al honey does not taste the same, and they produce a variety – Fireweed, Wildflower (good for seasonal allergies), Creamy Honey, Cinnamon Honey and a Creamy Cocoa Honey for chocolate lovers.

They sell their wares at grocery stores throughout Vancouver Island and at farm markets, and they also sell bee hives and equipment.

Blue Moon Winery

Home of Ravens Moon Craft Cider, this family owned and operated craft winery/cidery and blueberry farm is just five minutes from downtown Courtenay, and offers a Tasting Room for visitors to try their small batch award winning wines and ciders.

Cedar Meadow Ranch

They raise Registered Polled Herefords and have heifers and bulls for sale. The also raise Registered Romney sheep breeding stock, with ewe lambs and ram lambs for sale.

Each September, they sell fresh, hormone and antibiotic-free lamb by the side or whole. First and second cut hay is also available.

Clever Crow Farm

Lia and Brian McCormick produce flaked finishing sea salts, as well as herbs and spices, along with vegetables and organic eggs.

Estevan Tuna Corp.

Bruce and Dianne Devereux of the MV Estevan offer a full range of Pacific Albacore Tuna products, including vacuum packed raw and cold smoked loins, tuna tataki, packed in natural olive oil and smoked pop-top tins.

Gunter Bros. Meat Co. Ltd.

A third generation Comox Valley run by Harry and Dennis Gunter, this company specializes in custom meat processing. They can process beef, pork, lamb, bison and fallow deer.

They also make homemade sausages, bacon, hams and other cured meats.

Gya Glyn Farm

Located in Black Creek, this family farm and greenhouse produces naturally grown vegetables, fruit, eggs and meat, including grassfed, pasture-raised beef, lamb and pork. Produce includes asparagus, garlic, rhubarb, raspberries and apples.

Eatmore Sprouts & Greens Ltd.

This certified organic operation grows 9,000 pounds of organic sprouts each week.

Sprouts include: alfalfa, deli blend, garlic blend, clover, broccoli, mixed bean sprouts, pea shoots, sunflower greens and micro greens. They also produce a selection of salad greens and vegetables.

Beaufort Vineyard and Estate Winery

General Manager Mark Timmermans notes Beaufort is dedicated to environmentally sustainable practices in their organically certified vineyard, where they grow eight different grape varieties, and they craft small batch wines in the cellar. They also have a tasting room.

Tree Island Gourmet Yogurt

Scott DiGuistini and Merissa Myles oversee the making of artisan yogurt, made with non-homogenized milk from grass-fed cows and traditional kettle cooking, as they make old fashioned cream-top and greek yogurt.

Their products are available through the Comox Valley grocery stores and beyond.

Victorian Acres Farm

This family farm in the heart of Dove Creek has been producing farm products for residents and businesses for over 30 years, all of which are naturally raised with no added hormones, antiobiotics or medicated feeds. They offer grass-fed beef, chickens, eggs and turkey, as well as they sell hay.

Sleeping Dog & Mermaid Farm

Specializing in heirloom tomatoes, peppers and pumpkins, they also grow seasonal vegetables, greenhouse starts, succulents and flowers. Besides that, they make beeswax lotion bars and create planters, tins and bouquets for customers.