By increasing biodiversity, abundance and health in the Urban Orchard and supporting the development of healthy food environments.
By providing resources and supports to program participants, volunteers and staff to help them become leaders in food systems change.
This is more than just food. By providing opportunities for people to learn and interact with the local food system, we are changing the way the community lives, thinks, and eats in Greater Victoria. When you collect dirt under your fingernails gardening, or feel sunshine warm your shoulders in an orchard, or bite into a fresh picked fruit and let the juice drip down your chin, you are grounded in a shift that strengthens our connections with each other and the natural world.
Austen(he/him) is from Treaty 29, Attiwonderonk territory also known as Stratford, Ontario. Austen is an Ecosystem Management Technician, a farmer and now the Welland Orchard Coordinator continuing his passion for social and environmental justice, reconciliation, food security and community development. With his time at LifeCycles and Welland Orchard, Austen aims to make connections with the community, the trees and create a more welcoming and biodiverse space than it already is.
Tim’s (he/him) 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.
Meet Valerie (she/they). They were raised in the Okanagan on the unceded territory of the Syilx Peoples - with fruit trees in the backyard of every house they lived in. Valerie spent many enjoyable summers working at a local U-Pick farm. While there, she noticed the large amount of food waste that was generated due to the lack of redistribution systems for fresh produce in small towns like hers. From this, grew a desire to better understand food security and the structural inequalities that are at play. Valerie is excited to be working with a team full of passionate individuals and although they're only just beginning their journey at Lifecycles, they're more than capable of helping us on our mission to make fresh food accessible to everyone.
Megan (she/her) grew up on Syilx lands in the South Okanagan, where she developed a deep appreciation for the magic of orchards, vineyards, and sharing fresh fruit. Her background is rooted in geography, agriculture, and environmental education, and she has volunteered with a variety of social justice organizations. Megan is a lifelong learner, ever curious about the plants and people that make up the urban orchard, and she is grateful to continually be learning more about what responsible stewardship can look like.
Joan’s (she/her) life-long passion for growing and eating healthy food aligns perfectly with her role as the
Executive Director of LifeCycles Project Society. She came to LifeCycles after over a decade as the
Executive Director of York Region Food Network where she led a committed team in advocating for
income responses to food insecurity and developing healthy food projects as a catalyst for building
strong and vibrant communities.
Joan has a background in business, with degrees from the University of British Columbia and the University of Toronto. She moved into the social service realm after spending several years at home raising her four children. Joan is delighted to be back in her home province and to be working with the dedicated team at LifeCycles
Julia (she/her) is a new addition to the LifeCycles team! She will be working as our Youth Program Facilitator for the Seed the City program in 2022. Julia’s background is in GIS/Mapping, but she is excited to transition into a position that allows her to be outside helping youth to get engaged in gardening and farming. She is an avid gardener and hopes that her enthusiasm inspires youth to get their hands dirty and discover the many physical and mental benefits of gardening. Julia studied Geography and Environmental Studies at UVic. She became passionate about conservation and biodiversity while completing her undergrad. Julia is excited to work at LifeCycles where she can pursue these passions through a food systems lens. Outside work, you’ll find her foraging, cooking healthy meals, camping or hiking with her chocolate labrador, Roger.
Amira (she/they) brings her passion for organic gardening, experiential education and youth facilitation to the LifeCycle's team. Her passion for hands-on place-based education began with a summer student position with the Galiano Conservancy Association, where she led environmental workshops in the beautiful Southern Gulf Islands and the Salish Sea. The connections created between urban students and nature, and their interactions with their local environment, is what fuels her passion for teaching and creating the environmental stewards of tomorrow. Her background as an Environmental Educator for Sierra Club BC allows her to bring her wealth of experience to the Growing Schools Program. When she's not sharing knowledge with youth, you can find her enjoying hikes, bikes, and making art.
Jess joined LifeCycles’ board of directors in 2018. He learned about LifeCycles while picking apples in the community and was quickly drawn to this valuable work. Jess started his career with the BC Public Service in 2001 and has held multiple roles in the past 20 years in the justice and public safety sector. His education includes a Bachelor of Social Work and Masters of Business Administration. Jess looks forward to continuing involvement with LifeCycles’ board and advancing the organization’s important mandate in the community.
For decades, Chetna has been working in the public health field in the U.S. and for several years she worked with the native American tribal communities in the southwestern part of the U. S. She worked with leadership on developing self-sustained community-based diabetes prevention programs in the Zuni pueblo, a Native Indian tribe in western New Mexico. Working as the Community Partnership Director focuses on building a model collaboration among community health centers and public schools in underserved and marginalized communities in inner-city Boston. Her work is dedicated to creating a functional community-based model for integrating resources via health, wellness and prevention efforts of these two organizations to improve the wellbeing of youth of all ages and creating a pipeline of young professionals of color pursuing healthcare professions.
Chetna Naimi, earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Delhi, India and her Masters in Public Health Degree from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She is a dedicated and passionate believer in the power of community-based intervention and empowerment of communities to address health disparities and create healthy equity. Chetna is most proud of her Farm to School project that empowers and educates youth in the community to build, grow and maintain urban community gardens.
In 2020 Chetna and her husband moved to Victoria and cherish this chance to raise their two teenage daughters on this beautiful land; she is a watercolor artist, a passionate Hindi language teacher, an ardent cook, and volunteers for different local organizations.
Orvis Starkweather joined the LifeCycles board after volunteering as a Harvest Leader with the Fruit Tree Project. Orvis has been a grateful guest on the territories of the Esquimalt, Songhees and WSÁNEĆ peoples for the last 4 years. Orvis is descended from Irish, English, Scottish and German people that settled around the Great Lakes. Orvis is committed to food sustainability as a way of ensuring healthy communities and environment. Orvis comes to the board with a background in queer and trans organizing, including successfully advocating for the creation of gender neutral bathrooms, community building, and resource development. Orvis works as the People and Equity Analytics Advisor with the Human Resources Department at UVic. Orvis likes to sew, preserve food, cycle, visit art galleries, and do jigsaw puzzles.
Sandra (she/her) grew up on a farm along the North Saskatchewan River (Cree territory) and raised her three children on the West coast, continuing her passion for living in relationship with the land. She has been actively involved in community food projects over the years, with an interest in experiential learning and human-plant relationships. Professional expertise includes teaching academic English at Camosun College, engaging in scholarly research as a doctoral candidate at the California Institute of Integral Studies, and supporting her daughter’s herbal apothecary, Green Muse Herbs and Flowers.
Katie grew up in Saanich, on the unceded Coast Salish Territories of the W_SÁNEC peoples. She's passionate about food, the outdoors, caring for the land and helping things grow. She completed her PhD research in neurophysiology and exercise rehabilitation. She also has an interest in nutrition and human health, and has worked as a university lecturer and in health course administration. You may see her around town on the family cargo bike, with her two kids on the back in their rain pants.
Grown from seeds first planted in 1994.
On an international youth exchange program in Santiago, Chile, our founding members learned about the links between globalization, the corporatization of food systems, environmental degradation, and food security. The program in Chile worked with local organizations to develop projects that would enhance the quality of life within urban communities. Our founders wondered how they could do the same thing at home, and from there the idea for the LifeCycles Project grew.
Our first project was the development of community gardens, tended by youth, whose harvests supplied local soup kitchens. Since then, our programs have grown to include a number of interrelated initiatives that address urban sustainability and food security by offering practical, accessible and hopeful solutions.
While “Think Globally, Act Locally” seems simplistic, it is still the best model for social and environmental action. This is one of our founding principles and it is why we have endured as one of Victoria’s best-loved community organizations for over 25 years. Local action, rooted within the community, is the most effective way to create change.