Local food entrepreneurs on the high seas: Vancity Seafoods

In the Comox Valley, aka the “land of plenty,” food entrepreneurs are an important force in shaping the future of the economy. One of the most important “incubators” for local food businesses is the Comox Valley Farmers’ Market. That’s why we regularly feature food entrepreneurs from the Market who are making shift happen – like Vancity Seafoods.

Joel Nagge and Aaron Newson are the principals at Vancity Seafoods. At the Comox Valley Farmers’ Market, however, it’s Aaron’s mom, Kella-Lee Newson and Joel’s wife Tatiana Baron, who are selling their specialty product: fresh frozen spot prawns, caught at a secretive location off the Vancouver Island coastline.

While Joel and Aaron grew up around fishing, it was a new venture for Tatiana. “I was complaining about my office job in Vancouver,” Tatiana recalls. “Joel said, quit. Join us on the boat.” The decision to leave a desk job, and ultimately to leave Vancouver and settle in the Comox Valley, has been a life-changer for Tatiana.

A passion for sustainable seafood

“I love being out on the ocean,” she says. “But more than that, it’s being in a place that’s surrounded with life. Whales, dolphins. So much to see!” And yes, there are spot prawns.

Tatiana is passionate about the fishery. Not only is it providing a livelihood for her family, it’s also a sustainable fishery. There’s little or no by-catch (unwanted and unmarketable fish caught by mistake), and the fishery is highly regulated.

She also likes that there’s lots of room for growth in local markets. Tatiana says that until recently 90% of the spot prawn catch went overseas. That’s changing, and she sees Vancity Seafoods as having a role in building a local market for this international delicacy.

How important is the Comox Valley Farmers’ Market?

The Market is very important, for several reasons. One, it gives Tatiana and Kella-Lee first hand access to new customers. They want to educate people about this relatively new seafood option.

They also like respondIng to people’s questions. There are a lot of them. “People want to know how to prepare spot prawns, where we catch our prawns,” but most of the questions are about the business and about the sustainability of the fishery.

“If we’re going to grow our share of this fishery the Market is one of the best places we can do that.”

More opportunities for local food: the summer Sunday Cumberland Market  

Vancity Seafoods is one of the vendors that is participating in the new Sunday  market in Cumberland (11am-2pm) in 2016. Stop by and ask Kella-Lee or Tatiana about BC’s famous spot prawns. They have lots of information, as well as ideas about how to prepare these tasty ocean morsels.


For more information about Vancity Seafoods, please see:

  • Instagram: http://instagram.com/oceantotable

For more information about the Comox Valley Farmers’ Market, please see:

  • Website: http://cvfm.ca
  • Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cvfarmersmarket
  • Instagram: instagram.com/cvfarmersmarket
  • Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/CVFarmersMarket

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