Valley First

Strengthening Community Roots

Valley First and Soil Mate strengthen community roots

April 16, 2015

Penticton, B.C.—Valley First, a division of First West Credit Union, has entered into a partnership with Soil Mate, an online platform that harnesses the power of the web and social media to connect local communities with their local farmers, raisers and producers.

Recently crowned winner in the “Best Concept” category at the 2015 Small Business BC Awards, Soil Mate allows farmers and producers to easily create a profile and integrate it with unique mapping and database search functions to make buying local a convenient choice for consumers. Soil Mate is all about changing the way people source their food and steering them towards making healthy, responsible choices and the available options in their community.

The partnership will increase awareness of Valley First’s signature cause, Feed The Valley, which benefits local food banks, and support Soil Mate’s new community programming aimed at helping families source local food and prepare more nutritious meals.

“Working with an organization like Valley First is a natural fit with our local, sustainable, and healthy food source message and will really help us deepen our local connections,” says Soil Mate founder Matt Gomez.

Both Valley First and Soil Mate share a strong commitment to community and Valley First’s Feed the Valley program has been tackling hunger in the Okanagan, Similkameen and Thompson valleys for more than five years.

“Feed the Valley is aimed squarely at reducing hunger by working with local partners and Food Banks to generate donations of food and funds, raise awareness of the issue of hunger and promote healthy, sustainable food sources,” says Drew Geldart, a marketing expert at Valley First.

With the simple message of “know your farmer, know your food”, Soil Mate is encouraging local communities to be more self-sufficient when sourcing their food by highlighting what is available locally and how it is produced.

“Particularly with younger generations, there is a clear disconnect between the food that magically appears in stores and where it comes from, how it is grown, and by whom,” says Gomez.

The inspiration for the Soil Mate concept came to Gomez when started a family and identified the need to explain where the food we see in the grocery store actually comes from.

Looking ahead, Gomez says: ”I’d like to do some collaborative workshops learn on how to incorporate local products into easy kid’s meals or host more events, such as the August family picnic planned for this summer in Kelowna.”

For more information about Soil Mate please visit

About Valley First

Valley First is a premier provider of banking, investment and insurance services for residents and businesses in the Okanagan, Similkameen and Thompson valleys. As a division of First West Credit Union, B.C.'s third-largest credit union with 54 branches and 38 insurance offices throughout the province, Valley First brings innovative products, an extensive branch network and local decision making to the banking experience. For more information on Valley First, visit

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