Groups restoring Tod Creek Flats

Tod Creek Flats was originally a peat bog and very productive for the Tsartlip First Nations who gathered food and other materials there

Members of Peninsula Streams and the Tod Creek Watershed Society and their partners work to restore and revitalize Tod Creek Flats.

With the mounting interest in growing local food production, there are many initiatives underway to revitalize agriculture in Saanich.

The Tod Creek Flats project is one such initiative on approximately 60 acres that lies behind the Red Barn Market on West Saanich Road.  It is currently owned by four landowners who are interested in bringing it back into production after many years of sitting fallow.

The Flats was originally a peat bog and very productive for the Tsartlip First Nations who gathered food and other materials there. By 1860 settlers had drained the land in preparation for farming in the European manner.

For over 150 years the land supported livestock and food production with the Sisters of St. Ann growing the vegetables used in St. Joseph’s Hospital and St. Ann’s Academy over 50 of those years.

Mary Haig Brown is one of a team of volunteers who are working to bring this land back into production with the landowners.

“Over the years the level of the peat soil subsided due to oxidation and erosion. The water-free growing season grew shorter and shorter until about a decade ago it was impossible to get 100 water-free growing days and the land became fallow,” she said.

In 2008 they started the long process of finding ways to bring back farming while at the same time considering the ecological values of the Flats. With the help of a grant from the B.C. government, the District of Saanich worked with the landowners to develop a management plan.

The goals of the plan were: to improve the land for agriculture; to maintain the volume of the flood plain; and to enhance the environmental values of the land for the benefit of fish and other wildlife.

Peninsula Streams Society in partnership with the Friends of Tod Creek Watershed secured a grant from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and with this support and much volunteer labour they were able to start work on the land. They have created a berm at the level designated by Saanich in order for flood water to overtop the berm when needed.

They also built a channel parallel to Tod Creek and cleared debris of old beaver dams and overgrown willows. A channel was created with three return passages so fish can easily access the Flats for winter habitat and then return to the creek when water levels drop in the spring.

“We are now at the exciting point where we are ready to start farming the land again” said Brown. “Because it has been fallow for many years and because it is such great fish habitat, we are looking for suitable crops to grow in 100 days without the use of chemicals, most likely grains and vegetables.”

There will be challenges due to the nature of this land, but it’s exciting to think about the many people that it could feed as well as the new farmers who are currently looking for land the Flats could support.

It seems there is good possibility of realizing this opportunity with over 70 farmers in the region currently seeking land, and with the landowners open to getting this land into production. The next steps will be to look at exactly how this might happen.


Linda Geggie is the executive director with the Capital Region Food and Agriculture Initiatives Roundtable and can be reached at



Just Posted

Why are these Saanich lots still sitting vacant?

Mayfair Lanes lot still empty, 12 years later

Washington State Ferries resumes Sidney serivce on April 1

Community planning its annual welcome ceremony

Victoria painter splashes some colour on a dreary situation

Six-week long James Bay construction project gives Teresa Waclawik an impromptu canvas

Tight WHL playoff series expected between Royals and Giants

Regular season record belies the closeness of the games: Royals coach Dan Price

Oak Bay loses longtime volunteer

Bob Carter died March 18 at the age of 90

Student learns the ropes at Oak Bay fire in hands-on experience

Local department crafts four-day work experience program for Reynolds student

Saanich softens stance on police budget

Saanich Monday reversed an earlier decision that would have slowed down the… Continue reading

B.C.-pioneered wood construction on a roll internationally

Washington state considers mandatory engineered wood for public buildings

Cops say gun-toting robbers used fake police lights to pull over victims

Information wanted on North Shuswap robbery, police impersonation, burnt vehicle, motorhome theft.

Braves take Game 1 in triple overtime

Braves lead VIJHL final 1-0 over Storm

B.C. emergency alert system being tested Wednesday

Alarm tone and message will play on TV and radio

Texas bombing suspect blows himself up as SWAT moves in

The suspect in a spate of bombing attacks that have terrorized Austin over the past month blew himself up with an explosive device as authorities closed in

BCHL Today: Surrey Eagles and Powell River Kings close to advancing

BCHL Today is a (near) daily look at what’s going on around the league and the junior A world.

VSO to perform ‘Star Wars’ music while 1977 movie plays on big screen

Three shows for the classic at iconic Orpheum Theatre this summer

Most Read