Local Flavour: Good food news fills 2019

Local Flavour: Good food news fills 2019

Linda Geggie is the executive director with CR FAIR

Good food is good for the planet, good for the provider and good for the health and well being of all. There is a whole network of folks working across the region towards these aims called the Good Food Network. Each year a Good Food Progress Report is created that tries to capture the advances made on a broad range of efforts and is presented at the annual Good Food Summit held at the Songhees Wellness Center in November.

So what is the good news for 2019? A notable highlight is the growth of the Food Rescue initiative, where over this past year we have seen grocers, farmers and community organizations distribute a million and a half pounds of fresh produce to more than 50 agencies across the region. This food helps support people to access healthier food. Nancy, one of the participants says, “More fruits and vegetables for my kids makes me feel like I am doing my job as a parent to help them thrive. Rent is high and sometimes it’s hard to do that on a tight budget.” Significant this year was the continued shift of emergency food agencies like the Mustard Seed, Living Edge, and St. Vincent De Paul towards a model where program participants come and shop for their food in on-site food markets. There is more choice and assistance with taking home food that will feed their families.

READ ALSO: Unlock the power of food

There has also been some great work advancing food literacy efforts in the region, that is helping people to gain the skills and knowledge to make choices and prepare food that is healthier and in line with their values. Food Skills for Families is now offering 25 per cent more programming in the region. In addition, there are over 18 organizations doing programs around food for youth. One of these organizations, LifeCycles supports students to earn course credits in a Seed the City training program. One of the Grade 11 students taking part in the program said that “mental health is a huge issue for teens, this program helps a lot,” Leah Seltzer, program coordinator reports they harvested more than 500 pounds of lettuce from the Reynolds school garden over the summer, equal to 3,000 servings of salad. Another important collaboration was the launch of the Youth Pollinator Squads by Pollinator Partnerships Canada. One in every third bite of our food relies on these busy critters and youth are heading out into their communities and doing education and planting gardens in support of pollinators.

The Good Food Network has set a target for 25 per cent of our food to come from local sources. What is happening in terms of getting more local food available? Closing the Supply Gap launched a demonstration project to assist farmers with Canada Gap Certification, needed in order to sell to retailers and wholesalers. This is very important as currently 97 per cent of our local farms sell at the farm gate and through direct marketing. People want food available at the grocery store. Thrifty Foods, a project partner, was able to buy and sell local watermelon for the first time this fall from newly certified Ocean View Farm. Another key initiative moving forward this year is the work to develop a regional food hub to provide storage and processing infrastructure to local farmers and food producers.

At the Annual Good Food Summit, a ceremony was held to thank a few key Good Food Champions from the network. Alex Harned, the City of Victoria Food Systems Lead, launched the awards. “As I look around the room, it’s hard not to see an ocean of good food champions,” Harned said. “From different sectors, various areas of food systems work, volunteers, teachers, leaders — I’m sure we could each go around the room and share just how much we appreciate the person beside us, for their passion and leadership and support they offer us and our communities. So, thank you to each and everyone one of you for your commitment to our good food ways and to each other.” She went on to announce the annual winners in each category. The first was Elmarie Roberts and the Haliburton Community Organic Farm for their work supporting new farmers in the Local Food Economy Category. Beangka Elliot, of Project Reclaim was honored in her work to address food justice in the Food Literacy Category and Simone Cazabon was recognized in the Food Access and Equity area for her work with Salt Spring Community Services.

This year a special Lifetime Contribution Award was provided to Mary-Alice Johnson for her decades of work to support and grow organic farming. She has mentored countless interns, was a founder of the Moss Street Market and involved in the Sooke Farmlands Trust, Sooke Food CHI, and the Sooke Agricultural Plan. “ALM”, the name of her farm, is Arabic for Alif Lem Mim which stands for the beginning, the middle, and the end. “Just like the seasonal cycles on the farm,” says Johnson.

With such good work in progress, I look forward to talking about more as we roll out 2020! If you have any good food stories to share please pass them along.

Learn more and find the full Good Food Network Progress Report at goodfoodnetwork.info/about-the-network.

Linda Geggie is the executive director with the Capital Region Food and Agriculture Initiatives Roundtable and can be reached at lgeggie@crfair.ca.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Saanich golfer and top B.C. junior and juvenile player Willy Bishop was named to the 2021 Canadian National Junior Golf Squad on Nov. 19. (Photo courtesy Jenny Bishop)
Saanich student to tee-off with national golf team

Willy Bishop, 16, named to Canadian National Junior Golf Squad in 2021

Island Health has reported a COVID-19 outbreak at Saanich Peninsula Hospital. (Arnold Lim/Black Press)
Four new COVID-19 cases added to Saanich Peninsula Hospital outbreak

Inital round of patient testing is complete, staff testing continues

A rendering of Victoria Wonderland, a drive-thru immersive holiday experience that has been cancelled due to COVID-19. (Courtesy of Transcend Victoria)
Victoria Wonderland drive-thru show cancelled due to COVID-19

Organizers hope to host a similar event, if restrictions allow, in the new year

Swiftsure International Yacht Race 2018. (Black Press Media file photo)
Popular Swiftsure yacht race cancelled for second consecutive year

International sailing race hopes to run its 77th event in 2022

Andrew McBride is among those who deck out for Sea of Lights floating ship parade annually. (Black Press Media file photo)
Pandemic sinks Royal Victoria Yacht Club’s Sea of Lights

Oak Bay club encourages donations to the charities event supports

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Another 694 diagnosed with COVID-19 in B.C. Thursday

Three more health care outbreaks, 12 deaths

(AP Photo/Paula Bronstein)
POLL: Has COVID-19 changed your plans for the holidays?

The lights are going up, the stacks of presents under the tree… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Dec. 1

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Watch Messiah at home with the Sooke Philharmonic

Concert available to stream Dec. 12

Emergency crews used a backhoe loader to clear fire debris from the scene of a fire on Wesley Street Thursday as police and firefighters gathered up propane tanks, stoves and fireplaces used by camp residents to heat tents. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
City of Nanaimo dismantles downtown homeless encampment after fire

Four to six tents burned up in Wesley Street fire Thursday, Dec. 3

A demonstrator wears representations of sea lice outside the Fisheries and Oceans Canada offices in downtown Vancouver Sept. 24, demanding more action on the Cohen Commission recommendations to protect wild Fraser River sockeye. (Quinn Bender photo)
First Nations renew call to revoke salmon farm licences

Leadership council implores use of precautionary principle in Discovery Islands

Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps poses for a photo with his parents Amanda Sully and Adam Deschamps in this undated handout photo. Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps was the first baby in Canada to be diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy through Ontario’s newborn screening program. The test was added to the program six days before he was born. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Children’s Hospital Eastern Ontario *MANDATORY CREDIT*
First newborn tested for spinal muscular atrophy in Canada hits new milestones

‘If Aidan had been born any earlier or anywhere else our story would be quite different’

BC Ambulance Services reassures people that the service is well staffed and ready to respond. Photo by Don Bodger
BC Ambulance assures the Island community they’re ‘fully staffed’

‘Paramedics are not limited to a geographical area.’ — BCEHS

(Pixabay)
Canadians’ mental health has deteriorated with the second wave, study finds

Increased substance use one of the ways people are coping

Most Read