Feed the movement
All year long, we work hard to build a movement that changes the way our community lives and eats in Greater Victoria. This movement is rooted in the relationship between the community and the land–we strive to create opportunities for everyone to feel empowered in their relationship to this place.
Through our sustainable projects, we provide knowledge and practical skills for everyone to feel confident in participating in our food system. With your support, we can continue to do the work that strengthens our food system, our connection to the land, and our overall understanding of where food comes from and why it’s important.
The year so far…
In 2021, we continued to weather the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even as restrictions ebbed and flowed, we were fortunate to be able to continue to run our community projects while keeping staff, volunteers and participants safe.
With schools being majorly affected by pandemic restrictions, our Growing Schools team had to pivot and adapt programming to fit the new way of the world. By developing “workshops-in-a-box” we were able to deliver materials to classrooms, allowing teachers to share our knowledge while keeping students safe. Another way we’ve adapted is by moving programming outside. Each week, our staff engages students in the harvest of our schoolyard farms at Claremont and Reynolds Secondary Schools. We’re happy to report that our harvest sessions have received positive feedback! Students have enjoyed our outdoor programs (even in the rain) and love to ask questions about our microfarm sites. So far, we’ve harvested over 1200 pounds of produce! These vegetables are then shared into the community either through school food programs or the Food Share Network.
In October, we began piloting a project at the Welland Orchard. Students are guided through the orchard where they learn about food-bearing plants, fruit trees, propagation, biodiversity, seed saving and more. We hope to expand this programming in the coming year!
Seed the City, our summer youth work experience program, entered its third year! This program is run by our Growing Schools staff and teaches high school students how to grow, harvest, and share food grown on school grounds in Greater Victoria’s School District 61. Through the transformation of school grounds and policies, Seed the City is an investment in therapeutic learning environments that will have an impact on generations of students. This past summer, eleven students spent 8 weeks growing, learning, and experiencing all things food. Beyond a place where students can gain food literacy and hands-on skills, our program gets youth involved in Victoria’s local food community and allows them to explore career pathways in agriculture.
This year the Fruit Tree Project experienced their most abundant season ever! Even with the challenges of a global pandemic and major heat wave, we picked and sorted over 78,000 pounds of fruit – including apples, pears, grapes, figs, cherries, plums, quince and kiwi. This backyard bounty is a result of the hard work of our staff, the commitment of our volunteer Fruit Pickers, Fruit Sorters, Tree Assessors and Harvest Leaders, and the dedication of our community to the care of our Urban Orchard. 200 new trees were registered this year and over 22,000 pounds of fruit was shared back into our community via redistribution organizations like the Food Share Network. Because we don’t share food we wouldn’t eat ourselves, any fruit that required more processing has found its way into our Backyard Blend cider. We’re excited to share more details on when our cider will be available to purchase and enjoy in 2022!
The Victoria Seed Library continued to share knowledge around gardening and seed saving. Last year, we moved events online and in 2021 we continued to host virtual workshops and orientations. As for in-person events, we were able to set up an outdoor booth at the Central Branch of the Greater Victoria Public Library to share and collect local seeds. We hope to see lots of familiar faces at our monthly seed swap events when they pick back up again in 2022.
Through the pandemic, we’ve continued to steward Welland Orchard. Things were getting kind of lonely up at the park, so as soon as it was safe to do so our Orchard Coordinator began hosting weekly volunteer work parties. Volunteers have helped steward and care for the space in invaluable ways. It’s been incredibly rewarding to engage passionate people in this valuable community resource. With grant funding, we’ve started to make upgrades to infrastructure, including new fencing around the nursery and espalier apple trees. In 2022, we hope to animate the orchard with signage so visitors can learn more about Welland.
In September, we also hosted one of our first public events since March 2020! It was a pleasure to have folks join us at the Welland Orchard to learn more about the space, the trees and taste some freshly-harvested apples. This event reminded us how much it fills our cups to see the smiling faces of our community members, drawing attention to what we’ve missed most throughout the pandemic–connecting with you. Coming into 2022, we are hopeful that we’ll be able to host more events and workshops and safely engage with our community again!
Ways to show your support
Our projects are made possible by the amazing support of our community, funders, volunteers and staff. When you donate to LifeCycles, you are funding the continued success of our programs and the health of your community.
Financial support allows us the freedom to continue doing work in our community. Make a one-time or set up a recurring donation here.
Many of our projects depend on volunteers. By donating your time, you allow us to continue running programs that support healthy communities, healthy food systems, and a healthy future. Make sure you’re registered in the Gleaning Hub to stay up to date on volunteer opportunities.
Buy a Fruit Tree
We’re doing a pre-sale for heritage apple trees from the nursery at Welland. Trees range in price from $30 – 60, depending on the maturity. If you’d like to purchase a tree, email Rowen.
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Become a LifeCycles member! When you register, you have the option of selecting a free membership or paying an annual fee of $25 dollars.