LifeCycles cultivates community health by connecting people to the food they eat and the land it comes from. We support the region in growing, accessing, and eating local food in ways that foster diversity and enhance our urban environment.
Zoe Cilliers comes to LifeCycles with a background in arts and sciences. She holds a BFA in Critical and Cultural studies from Emily Carr University in Vancouver and is currently completing a Diploma at UVIC in Restoration of Natural Systems. She is interested in the myriad relationships which join people and plants. This summer she is looking forward to connecting with people over fruit trees and the listening to their stories.
Julia is delighted to have recently joined the LifeCycles team as a summer student. She studies at the University of Victoria, about to complete her last year of her undergraduate degree in Biology and Environmental Studies. Julia was raised in Calgary, AB and spent a number of her summers living and playing in the Kananaskis Region. Here in the mountains she fell in love with nature and her eagerness to learn about the biological, social, cultural and spiritual connections surrounding plants flourished. Julia has worked at a number of summer camps and schools in Calgary and Kananaskis, and her passion for collaborating with children and youth has led her to be excitedly supporting LifeCycle’s Growing Schools Project. Julia is also inspired by everything permaculture, urban design and community planning. She completed her Permaculture Design Certificate earlier this summer on Cortes Island, BC. This summer Julia hopes to connect the community and youth to the land and to each other, fostering meaningful, empowering and inspiring relationships (as well as polish up her plant identification skills in the garden).
Leah Seltzer is thrilled to be working with LifeCycles where she can weave together her passions for gardening, education, and community engagement. Leah moved from Ontario to Cortes Island, BC, to participate in the Linnaea Farm Ecological Gardening Program in 2008. Ever since then, she has been an avid food grower, wild crafter, and herbal medicine maker. Throughout the growing season, her home is filled with drying herbs and food preservation projects of all kinds. Leah also has a strong background in youth engagement. Through the Partners for Youth Empowerment Training and her work with Reel Youth, Leah has become skilled in the art of facilitation and loves finding fun and creative ways to build community through collaboration, games, and connection with the natural world. She strongly believes in the therapeutic value of learning from nature, and appreciates the countless opportunities that gardening offers for relationship building and personal growth. As the former Director of the Friends of Cortes Island Society, Leah also has experience in non-profit management and is excited to support LifeCycles' growth and resiliency as an organization. When not in the garden, Leah can often be found writing songs on her guitar, hiking in the woods, and seeking out the best swimming spots. She is excited to be working with LifeCycles to bring more equity and innovation to our food system.
Mary Tooley loves nature, and has always appreciated the beauty of nature's gifts. Originally from Ontario, she has also spent many years in the colourful and vibrant Yukon where she and her husband Gerald ran their own business in the tourism industry. Mary and Gerald have lived in Victoria since 1997, and have 3 married sons and 4 grandchildren, living in Victoria and in Texas.
Mary holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from Royal Roads University. Her professional life has been centred around business and financial management. Her past roles include Executive Director of the Yukon Chamber of Commerce, Commercial Banker for BMO and Business Consultant analyzing and reporting to businesses on opportunities for improvement. She is excited to have the opportunity to bring her knowledge and experience to LifeCycles as they navigate some planned growth and development.
Mary currently fills two key roles for LifeCycles: Administrator and Accountant.
Matt grew up searching for salamanders under rotten logs in the woods of Shawnigan Lake. He has been with LifeCycles since 2007 and has been integral in helping shape our seed, school, orchard and community food programming. He has deep passion for natural systems restoration in heavily urbanized environments, a passion inspired by a long history of listening to children in dozens of schoolyard gardens in Victoria and Vancouver. Matthew is a seed saver, community food commons creator, bread maker and lover of plants. He has a Masters degree in Environmental Education and Communication and a Bachelors degree in Political Science and Environmental Studies.
Raised on the gentle shores of Victoria, Coast Salish Territories, Jenny has been fascinated by plants and trees for as far back as she can remember. She completed a Masters Degree in Cultural, Social and Political Thought at the University of Victoria, and her work as a community organizer led her to LifeCycles in 2012, where she’s been involved in orchestrating the Fruit Tree Project’s city-wide fruit harvest ever since. Jenny loves the Fruit Tree Project for it celebration of abundance and all the incredible people who populate the project and come together in a spirit of cooperation and taking care of one another! Conveniently, pie is her favourite food.
When Jenny isn’t focused on the gleaning of our urban orchard, she’s likely foraging or working with medicinal plants as a Medical Herbalist, growing food, or hanging out with her pup Gracie.
Tim’s early life was spent on an array of isolated farms scattered across the Northern Interior. He discovered a profound curiosity about how natural, social and cultural systems interrelate to provide our ‘food.’ Tim spent his post-farm life exploring Europe and North Africa and studying the “history of systems of thought” in the Political Science department at UVIC.
In recent years, Tim has focused his Political, Urban, Anthropological, Historical, and Philosophical questions through the problem of sustainable ‘food systems.’ Tim has been closely involved in the creation and expansion of “Ranfurly Farm,” the intergenerational enterprise started by his family in 2009. He also became interested in how such practices as wild fermenting and urban foraging, aquatic gardening and aquaponic systems, food foresting and mushroom cultivation, guerrilla gardening and public propagation can close gaps in accessibility and enjoyment.
More hedonistic and experimental tendencies has inspired Tim to co-found a collective of chefs, bartenders, theatre practitioners, graphic and visual artists, farmers, and foragers to stage a series of culinary-oriented popup events that experiments with news ways for food and culture to produce community.
As a recent transplant to Victoria, JJ joined us in 2015 after three years being mentored in the art of ecosystem care and living on the land at the Bullocks Permaculture Homestead and Nursery on Orcas Island. Working with fruit trees all through the season is a source of joy for her, and having the opportunity to support the mission of the Welland Legacy Park & Community Orchard is a real dream come true. Previously, she has lent her hands to farms in Québec, on Salt Spring & Vancouver Islands, and in Baja California Sur, México. Before she got down to working with the roots and soil of it all, you could find her behind a desk or out at community events for various non-profit, community and institutional organizations in the fields of conservation, health and public art in Toronto and internationally.
Shereen Kukha-Bryson is over the moon to be part of the Lifecycles team and connect with diverse communities around food and the land! She is a person of the prairies, born and raised on Treaty 6 territory - Saskatoon, SK - but has set down new roots in Victoria, unceded Coast Salish Territory. She feels most connected to the land when she is working with folks, soil, plants, pollinators, and food in culturally rich contexts. With a background in Anthropology and Indigenous Studies from the University of Ottawa and the University of Victoria, Shereen has cultivated great appreciation for different cultural worldviews which has kindled her passion for engaging with different foodways. Her close connection to her Kurdish heritage has further deepened her exploration into the cultural stories, memories, histories, and relationships connected to food production. With the support and teachings from a number of plant mentors, Shereen has been engaging in food education over the past 7 years with an emphasis on school gardening and food security. In particular, she has had the honour to collaborate with children, youth, and educators on growing local food across Saskatchewan. Young people's enthusiasm and knowledge of their foodscapes continues to inspire and energize Shereen. She is eager to continue to co-produce empowering food systems with communities and hold space for our future generations!
Eden Murray has an ever-growing passion for the food systems she interacts with. She is the Youth Food Action Coordinator for CRFAIR and is working on developing a Youth Food Network for the CRD. She is a student at Victoria High School in her grade twelve year, and an important coordinator to the VHS-Eco Hub at Vic High. This includes being a key organizer in the school garden, a past organizer of the salad bar, a composting phenetic, and more! Eden looks to study Indigenous studies, Non-Profit Governance, Leadership, and food systems studies in university. Eden is honored to be on Lifecycles Project Society's board and is excited to support the organization, learn more about its inner workings, and provide fresh insight!
This is Regan's first year as a member of the Board. She is passionate about local food and believes everyone should have access to good, nutritious food. Regan has 15 years experience in marketing communications and is looking forward to using her skills to further the work of LIfecycles Project Society.
Rhianna is a mom, a community-engaged researcher, and a fan of individual and collective behaviour change towards reduced consumerism. Rhianna graduated from the Global Resource Systems BSc Program at UBC in 2007. Through that program she discovered her passion for sustainable food production and food politics and built her skills and knowledge in in this area through courses, practicums and farming internships. Later, she greatly enjoyed working with the Environmental Youth Alliance as a coordinator, building gardens and developing programs for food system engagement in Vancouver. She is very pleased to be supporting this work at Lifecycles. Rhianna is finishing her MA with the Community Based Research Lab in UVic Geography. She works at the Institute for Studies and Innovation in Community University Engagement at UVic, assisting with community-engaged programs and research.
Matt graduated from the University of Victoria Faculty of Law in 2015 and has already completed half of his Articles at the UVic Environmental Law Centre. Matt is interested in supporting First Nations and the development of a sustainable and just society. Matt feels strongly that his legal education should be applied in the public interest. Throughout law school, Matt was actively involved with the UVic Environmental Law Centre (ELC): completing an intensive term as a student in the ELC clinic, holding various leadership roles with the ELC student club, and sitting on the ELC Board of Directors. As a clinical student at the ELC, Matt worked to stop the construction of pipelines through grizzly bear habitat, improve compost regulation in BC, and protect Wood Buffalo National Park. Matt also completed a clinical term with the UVic Law Centre, providing pro bono legal services for disadvantaged members of our community. In 2015, Matt was awarded the B.C. Law Foundation Public Interest Award.
The seeds for LifeCycles Project Society were first planted in 1994.
In 1994, our founding members attended an international youth exchange in Santiago, Chile. The youth exchange program worked with local organizations to explore issues facing Canadian and Chilean communities, with a goal of developing projects that would enhance the quality of life within urban communities. LifeCycles’ founding members learned about the links between globalization, the corporatization of food systems, environmental degradation and food insecurity. They identified a need to spread awareness around issues with food security and increase food production within the urban community.
LifeCycles’ first project was the development of community gardens, tended by youth, whose harvests supplied local soup kitchens. Our programs have since grown from there to include a number of interrelated initiatives that seek out to address urban sustainability and food security by offering practical, accessible and hopeful solutions.
We believe that local action, rooted within the community, is the most effective way to create change.
While the maxim Think Globally, Act Locally may seem simplistic, it is still the best model for social and environmental action. This principle is the cornerstone upon which the LifeCycles Project was founded, and it is why we have endured as one of Victoria’s best-loved community organizations. LifeCycles is empowering because our initiatives make sense. LifeCycles creates possibilities.
We gratefully acknowledge support from: