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Greater Victoria fruit rescue, distribution program prunes school work

The LifeCycles Project targets $50,000 core funding to save school programs

A longstanding Greater Victoria food saving and education program is pruning its budget while it looks for longevity with a funding boost.

The non-profit LifeCycles Project isn’t in peril just yet, but the board is cutting back programs as funding challenges persist. The 30-year-old organization relies on volunteers, grants and private donations as helps build a resilient food system in the region, growing, harvesting and sharing food.

“We have a runway into 2024 and we’re excited for that and at the same time it’s still quite a hard funding landscape,” board chair Jess Gunnarson told the Saanich News.

There were notable dips during the pandemic, and an online fundraising blitz last summer raised just shy of $10,000 created a buffer heading into this year. That, and making some tough cuts.

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A cornerstone of the organization is the fruit tree program that celebrated 25 years in 2023. Volunteers pick fruit from urban orchards, then transport, sort and redistribute it throughout the community

“In 2023 despite our challenges financially and our need to scale back, we were able to harvest about 30,000 pounds of fruit and 10,000 pounds of vegetables,” Gunnarson said.

Redistributing that much fresh food in a time when people are struggling with rising inflation, grocery costs and housing, “that’s a pretty huge impact.”

“I suspect there’s more out there and unless we can staff up with some more supports organizationally we’re likely going to always have to leave a degree of that fruit behind and it’s just such a lost opportunity,” Gunnarson said.

LifeCyclcles also maintains Welland Orchard in View Royal and in the past decade started working with schools.

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“That’s where we’ve had to pull back and curb our programming for the time being,” Gunnarson said. “I don’t want to close that door because it’s something we all see value in and we’ve seen meaningful impact in the past.”

Forced to take a look at scarce resources and limited time, he said the board “came to some really hard decisions.”

It’s a position the board hopes to avoid in the future, if it can raise funds to establish core funding to build annual grants around.

“We’re incredibly grateful for (annual grants) but at the same time it’s hard to plan from a year-to-year perspective,” Gunnarson said. The goal is to find, or build, donations to a pocket of $50,000 of core funding to develop more long term planning.

Learn more about the organization at

Christine van Reeuwyk

About the Author: Christine van Reeuwyk

Longtime journalist with the Greater Victoria news team.
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