150 Fig Trees

Mario Ruffalo is kindly donating 150 Fig trees to the Good Food Network to distribute to organizations and individuals across the capital region.


If you would like one, or multiple fig trees, contact jscott@crfair.ca as soon as possible. Trees will be distributed on a first come, first served basis.*

* please note: you must be able to pick up the tree yourself

Mario’s act of generosity is rooted in events that occurred 50 years ago, when he first came to Canada. Missing the figs that had grown abundantly back home, he and his brother began planting them around Victoria in 1993. Mario’s brother has since passed, and now he wants to fulfill the dream of bringing figs to our region. The Good Food Network is helping him find people to accept his gift.

Things to consider:

-          Fig trees can grow in most Victoria soils – they do not need fertilizer

-          Fig trees can grow quite large

-          Fig trees are easy to grow and do not require much maintenance!

Again, contact jscott@crfair.ca if you are interested.

Change Canada's Food Guide: Petition

Have you heard that there is a petition (http://www.changethefoodguide.ca/) going to Health Canada asking that Canada’s Food Guide be changed? The local Victoria chapter of the Weston A. Price Foundation is actively helping to promote this petition. In fact, Dr. Price’s 1930’s nutritional research and book, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration is listed as a reference on the petition’s open letter which will be going to Health Canada. WAPF is dedicated to restoring nutrient-dense foods to the human diet through education,research and activism.

We advocate the Wise Traditional way of eating that Canadian-born Dr. Price documented in his remarkable worldwide studies in the 1930/40’s. He warned us then, nearly 80 years ago, of the serious health consequences of eating the processed ‘foods of commerce’ as he called them. His research has been validated to such an alarming degree with soaring rates of diet-related illnesses that it’s finally come to this – a very large group (over 500 and counting) of concerned Canadian physicians and allied healthcare professionals are petitioning for drastic change to the Canadian diet.

To spread the word about this important petition, WAPF head office has contacted every member and chapter leader across Canada. This petition is welcome news in the Canadian real food movement and to WAPF’ers who would like to see nutrition policy be evidence-based, rather than subject to the influence of the corporate food industry, as it has been for decades. Getting back to real food can only help local small farmers and regional economies.
We really want the guidelines fixed!

As leader of the Victoria Chapter of WAPF, I’ve created a personal blog (Alternative Boomer Legacy) in order to promote the petition, a Wise Traditions lifestyle and to advocate for the health of children. Check out this article that expands on some of the many reasons that our official dietary recommendations need to be fixed (hint – there is lots of butter involved!): http://www.alternativeboomerlegacy.com/blog/

The Healing City Soils Project

With growing concerns over food security and food access, many people are turning to their own backyards and boulevards to grow food for their families and to establish a thriving and productive urban food garden, there is a need to ‘grow your soil’ before you ‘grow your food.’

The Healing City Soils Project was developed as a partnership between the Victoria Compost Education Centre and Royal Roads University’s BSc in Environmental Science program to address soil health concerns in urban areas.

The project offers free soil testing for heavy metals and follow up gardening best practices workshops for participants. In 2016, soil tests for heavy metals such as lead, arsenic and cadmium were completed at garden sites across the communities of Victoria and Esquimalt to support people already growing, or interested in growing food in their backyards, front yards, boulevards and community gardens. Soil test results are uploaded onto the Victoria Soil Quality interactive online map, hosted on the Victoria Compost Education Centre’s website. This open-access map provides community members with a picture of soil health throughout the city. While no sites in the study last year were found to contain levels of heavy metals that would indicate any significant health risks for residents, it is important to assess your soil before creating an edible garden in the city. Food can still be grown safely at sites containing heavy metals by following best practices for creating healthy gardens.

In 2016, the project uncovered some fascinating information about historical land use in Greater Victoria leading to some interesting results. Participating residents raised a number of possible concerns including a history of backyard garbage burning, historic use of lead paint on house exteriors, and small businesses of appliance repair, sign painting, and automotive repair.Though largely residential now, Victoria archives showed that a number of breweries existed in the late 19th century and early 20th century in historic Fernwood including the Lion/Empire Brewery in Spring Ridge that burned down in 1887. Other industries on more specific locations included a metal-works near Gladstone Street and a lumber-works near Vining Street.
Building on the success of the first year of the project, student teams at Royal Roads are busy completing soil tests this spring at residential gardens and boulevards in the municipalities of Saanich and Oak Bay to expand the data on the Soil Quality map, with a goal to eventually map the entire Capital Regional District (CRD) and highlighting areas where heavy metals may need to be addressed before growing food. This map is paired with factsheets and workshops to empower people with the knowledge and skills to grow food safely or to heal the soil with compost, plants and mushrooms.

Connecting urban agriculture, composting, food literacy, ecological restoration and bioremediation, this project brings together local government and post-secondary institutions, food security organizations and people who are interested in growing food and conserving the soil beneath their feet. For more information and to view the interactive soil quality map and fact sheets, visit https://www.compost.bc.ca/healing-city- soils/

Life Cycles' Tree Care Apprenticeship Program Launched

The Welland Legacy Park & Community Orchard has launched a volunteer training program to enhance community capacity in backyard & urban orchard fruit production. The orchard, located in pocket park in View Royal, is home to over 150 fruit trees & vines, offering an incredible opportunity for public education on fruit growing in the region. LifeCycles manages the volunteers and provides educational programming in partnership with the Town of View Royal

The Tree Care Apprenticeship program launched in February 2017, and is off to a fun and successful start. Interest in the program has been solid, and several community members have signed on to deepen their practical knowledge of how to produce abundant, healthy fruit using practices that enhance the local ecology. Alongside the Welland Orchard Coordinator, Julia Ford, apprentices are learning the principles of holistic orchard care and integrated pest management approaches through hands-on work with the trees - that they will then be able to take out into their communities to further support our region's fruitful abundance! For more information, or to join the Tree Care Apprentice program, click here.

A Thriving Food Hub in Gordon Head

The Greater Victoria Food Hub Strategy has been working on a pilot project in the Gordon Head area to look at the ‘what, who, when, where, how’ food access and food literacy can be bolstered in this underserved neighbourhood. The Food Hub Strategy set out to discover that there is substantial energy within a collaborative group creating lots of momentum in the Gordon Head/University Heights neighbourhood entitled the Food Skills Connection. We are excited to shine the spotlight on this amazing crew of food security champions!

The Food Skills Connection - a community collaboration between the UVSS Food Bank & Free Store, Shelbourne Community Kitchen, Community Living Victoria, and Community Cabbage - works together to develop and implement inclusive, respectful, consent-based, and accessible food skills workshops. They utilize food literacy themes including growing food, cooking food, preparing food, how to use specific kitchen tools (such as knife skills), accessing food, and more!

At each step of their workshop ideation process, from information gathering, to development, to implementation and evaluation, the team works to embody values of inclusivity, respect, consent, and accessibility into all that they do. While the Food Skills Connection members and organizations hold knowledge about particular areas of food in/security, they recognize that each of us has learning to do. There is no one experience of food in/security, and we understand it is felt differently depending on the intersections of class, ethnicity, gender, age, ability, etc. There are so many factors that go into how we feel food in/security, how we experience it, and how we deal with it. Because of this, they encourage group sharing and learning during the workshop planning and facilitating, because they know that everyone has valuable knowledge and experiences to bring to the table, regardless of level of food skills and food literacy. “Food nourishes us physically and culturally; sharing food is the basis of community”  says Kaia Bryce, Food Skills Connection member and Community Cabbage Coordinator. We couldn’t agree more!

“All workshops must use as many easy, healthy, cheap ingredients as possible” says Courtney Striker, UVSS Food Bank and Free Store Coordinator. “The point of the workshops is to have participants be able to feasibly find and use ingredients and food items in their communities and home. Therefore, we try to make sure we only use ingredients that would be easy to find and cheap to purchase. With the health focus, we make sure that all recipes use ingredients that promote healthy options.” For example, Snack attack substituted a bit of honey and applesauce, rather than sugar or flavoring. The team strives to strike a balance between promoting healthier options, but also making sure the healthier options are accessible and feasible to everyone.  All of the workshops are held at locations within the Shelbourne/Uvic/Tolmie region that are easy to get to by bus, have bike racks, and have adequate parking for cars. Most workshops are hosted at community kitchens at nearby churches and the Shelbourne Community Kitchen.

Workshop themes to date have included:

·       Snack Attack! Learning How to Make Healthy, Inexpensive, Easy Snacks to Get You Through Your Day! This workshop is all about learning how to make easy, healthy, and cheap snacks to take to school/work/knitting club/the bar/wherever really. Snacks made include: energy bars, salad-in-a-jar and muffins.

·       One Pot All Ya Got! Learning How To Make Healthy, Easy, Hearty Meals Only Using One Pot! Learn how to make easy and delicious meals with just one pot. Recipes include a savory curry chicken lentil soup, a delicious vegetarian pasta, and a sweet fruit crisp to tie the evening together!

·       Mystery Food Box: What Can You Make With What You Have? This workshop looks at how to make good tasting, healthy meals out of food items that can be hard to pair together or need-to-be-used asap!

The next workshop is the “Garden Party Workshop - Put a Plant In It!”, a hands on workshop to learn how to plant and care for container gardens. This workshop is happening Wednesday, May 31st at 3:30pm at Community Living Victoria. Please register by emailing foodskillsconnection@gmail.com

For further information or how to get involved, please see: https://foodskillsconnection.wordpress.com/

By Alex Harned, Food Hub Strategy Coordinator

Kicking off Pollinator Week and The Pollinator Round Table Report

Kick off Pollinator Week 2017 (http://pollinator.org/pollinatorweek/) with a workshop on plants and pollinators 17-18 Jun at beautiful Haliburton Community Farm in Victoria, BC! 
Preserving Pollinators: Issues, Identification, and Planting
Topics include the unique ecology of Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands, bee and butterfly biology and identification, monitoring for pollinators, and restoring habitat for pollinators with native plants. The workshop is for naturalists, farmers, gardeners, students, and land managers; anyone that would like to better understand our diverse pollinator communities and how you can help them. Classroom and outdoor activities included.

Space is limited so sign up soon. To register email Lora lm@pollinator.org
Presented by Saanich Native Plants and Pollinator Partnership Canada

The Pollinator Round Table Report

Lora Morandin, Pollinator Partnership Canada and Bob Maxwell of Peninsula and Area Agricultural Commissionenvisioned the Island Pollinators Initiative and wanted to reach out to the local CRD community to gage interest.  CRFAIR co-ordinated the meeting that took place May 18 in the CRD Common Room.   Twenty people including master gardens, bee keepers, farmers , entomologists and non profits already educating about pollination attended. The Island Pollinators Initiative would co-ordinate information about strategies and events in our region.

Three key indicators emerged:
1. Public Education
2. Neonic (and other pesticide) knowledge and advocacy for ban on horticultural products.
3. Build the IPI: a recognized brand (logo for review, signage, certification).
A steering committee forIsland Pollinators was formed to guide the initiative.

Lora Morandin, Ph.D.
Western Canada Program Manager
Pollinator Partnership Canada


Trees and Berry Bushes to First Nations

The CRD purchased over 50 more fruit trees and berry bushes to enable the 150 Trees project to fill the request from all 5 First Nations communities who applied.  This report shares what was received and the food and agricultural initiatives of the First Nations.

SȾÁUTW̱ (Tsawout)

Elmer receivedapple cherry and plum trees and the tay berry, logan berry and blue berry bushes and which were planted in a few spots around the community including next to the Tsawout administration building. Tsawout has a large greenhouse with lots of potential that once operated as a native plant nursery.*

* Tsawout has a number of other apples trees in its community including some heritage varieties. TIXEN, the sand spit by the ocean is still used for gathering plants and other food sources.


Received 2 pear, 2 apples, 2 plums and 5 blueberries. The Native plant nursery is blooming with yarrow, KEXMIN, salmon berries, Garry oaks and much more. The nursery is an education centre for children and the community and also provides plants to the restoration sites in the region.

W̱JOȽEȽP (Tsartlip)

Tsartlip had an amazing planting day with their after school group. they planted 15 blueberries and 4 apples trees inside fenced off area for a vegetable garden with plans to start growing native plants near the health centre. Tsartlip also has a backyard growing program with a number of gardens in the community. They have also been leading Native plant workshops such as tea harvesting and food preparation for the community members.


 Upon delivery of the trees and berry bushes, 6 boxes for the trees were built and filled with soil and compost to provide a mini orchard along the back fence. There is a large garden space with plant starts that are to be sold at a local agriculture fair. Denise and Christine both work in the garden part time and grow flowers, vegetables and native plants. Denise also saves seeds for use in the garden and with the community. T’Sou-ke also have three very large greenhouses to produce Wasabi for commercial use. Aditionally T’Sou-ke have an oyster farm in Sooke basin and are leading workshops in their community to connect back to their traditional food sources.


Every Wednesday, Pacheedaht has a community lunch in their health building. The hazelnut and plumtrees will be planted just outside of their community garden. Deer aren’t a concern at Pacheedaht but Elk can be! Inside their community garden is a Native plant trail with signs that provide information on some of the native plants that would be found in the area and how to identify them. They had two greenhouses that unfortunately were blown over in one windstorm. The next greenhouse will need to have a stronger foundation to resist the frequent strong winds.

150 Fruit Tree Distribution

150 Fruit and Nut Trees and bushes donated by Le Coteau Nursery are being distributed to community groups in the CRD in celebration of Canada's 150 birthday.  The CRD and CRFAIR took on the task of distributing the trees to local organizations.  Local community groups involved in growing food were invited to apply.

The CRD, Le Coteau, CRFAIR and the Good Food Network are very excited and encouraged by the amazing response to the 150 Trees Project.  We were overwhelmed to receive over 50 applications requesting over 500 trees!!

The 150 plus project trees will be distributed over the whole of the CRD to all types of participant organizations serving their diverse communities.  The choices were very hard to make as all applicants were very deserving.

The groups were asked to indicate how they would transport, plant, tend, harvest and distribute the bounty. There were so many wonderful plans it was difficult to choose.  The CRD decided to fill the request from First Nations groups from their own programs and so a total of 200 trees and bushes were distributed.

And then the fun began!  Choosing trees with Rob’s help, organizing planting days, planting and watering in the trees!  We look forward this fall to hear how things are growing! 

A big thanks from the food security community to Rob and Le Coteau Nursery!
Congratulations to all!!

Belmont School

Capital City Allotment Association

City of Colwood

CVL Victoria Association for Community Living

East Sooke Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department

Edward Milne Community School

The Farmlands Trust (Greater Victoria) Society

Gorge Park Community Gardens

 James Bay Neighbourhood Association

Maria Montessori Academy

District of North Saanich

Quadra Cedar Hill Community Association

Saturna Island Parks & Recreation

Sherringham Polint Lighthouse Preservation Society

South Island Distance Education School Teaching Garden

Project Township of Esquimalt

University of Victoria Community Garden

Victoria Native Friendship Centre

Victoria West Community Association

WestShore Centre for Learning Colwood Campus 

Yates Street Community Garden


The project was a collaboration between CRFAIR and the CRD.  Our thanks to Rob at Le Coteau (http://lecoteau.com/) for the inspiration and donations.

Good Food Network Supports Community Orchards

CRFAIR and the Good Food Network are partnering with the Capital Regional District and Le Coteau Nursery to bring 150 new fruit bushes and shrubs to our region. Eligible participants in this initiative include regional schools, local and First Nations governments and community organizations. Choose the fruit/nut tree or shrub from Le Coteau's catalogue that will work best in your location.

To learn more, check out the project page.

CRFAIR & Good Food Summit in the News

Trevor Hancock: Good news on the good-food front


DECEMBER 21, 2016 12:51 A

This seems a good time to be thinking about food, when we are focused on the one hand on feasting, and on the other hand on the hunger that many of our fellowcitizens face.

Last month, I attended the Good Food Summit, organized by the Capital Region Food and Agriculture Initiatives Roundtable. It was a heartening celebration of the hard work and good news about good food in this region.

CRFAIR is small organization, but it plays a big role in bringing together the many players involved in the production and distribution of the food we grow and eat: farmers, gardeners, First Nations, food processors, retailers, restaurants, food banks, community food initiatives, schools, nutritionists and many others.

Founded in the 1990s with a strong focus on food security, and hosted by the Community Social Planning Council, CRFAIR grew to have 30 member organizations and four workgroups focusing on various aspects of food security. Island Health funded CRFAIR to work as the food-security hub for the capital region, and research partnerships were established with the University of Victoria and others.

Then in 2013, CRFAIR became an independent entity, funded by a combination of foundations, local governments and Island Health, with a mission to “mobilize and connect efforts to develop healthy, equitable and sustainable food systems in the capital region.” One key focus is “good food,” by which they mean food that is “good for the planet, good for the provider, and good for the health and well-being of all.”

Sadly, many aspects of our food system are far from these ideals. Our diet is definitely not healthy; as a society we eat way too much food of the wrong sort, leading to dramatic rates of overweight and obesity along with a host of chronic health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, stroke, arthritis and some forms of cancer.

Nor is our food system equitable. Most obviously, we have large numbers of people, including children, who are hungry and lack the economic means to acquire adequate amounts of healthy food. But in addition, we exploit cheap labour in Canada, the U.S. and many other parts of the world to produce our food.

Here in B.C., for example, a 2008 report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives found that “Canadian farmworkers on piece rates were earning just over $5 per hour,” which was well below the minimum wage, while a 2015 CCPA report noted that almost all B.C.’s agricultural workers are immigrants or migrants and they are “subject to coercive employment practices with serious consequences for health and safety.”

Third, our food system is not sustainable, it is not good for the planet. Our modern, meat-based diet requires a lot of land and water, extensive energy and chemical inputs and intensive farming practices, and produces large amounts of waste, including significant quantities of methane and carbon dioxide that contribute to global warming.

Jennie Moore, a professor at the B.C. Institute of Technology, did her PhD on the ecological footprint of Vancouver. In a study published in the Journal of Environmental Management in 2013, she and her colleagues reported that food consumption represented almost half the ecological footprint, mainly due to “the large area required to grow crops and fodder, and because of the energy intensity of food production, processing and distribution.”

Astonishingly, of the 2.6 million tonnes of food used in Vancouver in a year, “approximately one-third ends up lost or wasted due to spoilage and/or plate-waste.” More than 370,000 tonnes was “plate waste,” food that was purchased but not eaten.

None of this is good news, but it is food for thought.

Happily, however, there is good news on good food. There were many examples at the Good Food Summit of people and organizations throughout the region that are working to create a food system that is indeed “good for the planet, good for the provider, and good for the health and well-being of all.” Check out the Good Food Network on the CRFAIR website, especially the “Find good food in the CRD” page, where you will find a list of 10 simple things you can do to make a difference, links to useful resources and much more besides.

Dr. Trevor Hancock is a professor and senior scholar at the University of Victoria’s school of public health and social policy.


© Copyright Times Colonist

- See more at: http://www.timescolonist.com/opinion/columnists/trevor-hancock-good-news-on-the-good-food-front-1.5094009#sthash.NJWeV4jK.dpuf

Actions for Good Food Contest!

CRFAIR is partnering with Black Press to present the first annual Actions for Good Food Contest which is scheduled to launch September 7. Tell us what actions you're taking to grow, share or promote good, healthy food and you could win $500. To participate, go to saanichnews.com/contests.

Good food is good for the planet, good for the producer and good for the health and well being of all. For some ideas about what you can do to make a difference, check out our Find Good Food in the CRD page. Small steps are important! If you are doing anything around good food in the region we want to hear about it.

The Actions for Good Food Contest is part of the Good Food Network Initiative which brings together diverse regional actors who care about our local food system. You can join or learn more by reading the Good Food Network page.




Flavour Trails Youth Bike2Farm Challenge

Are you a youth (under 30) who cares about food sustainability, supports local farming, and loves to cycle? We invite you to bring your bike out on the Flavour Trail to the North Saanich Food and Farm Festival. At each of our four hotspots (details on those to come soon) you can enter for a chance to win iTunes gift cards! You can also earn additional entries by posting a picture of you and your bike at any of the sites to the Youth Food Action Team Facebook Page and adding the hashtags #peoplepowercrd and @crd_bc. Use the brochure (download here) to decide where you want to go and bring some friends along!