Another wonderful community Stone Soup Festival with glorious sun and lots of great tables, information, things for sale and entertainment. Big thank you to everyone who joined us Fresh Roots Urban Farm Society, Farm To School BC, Environmental Youth Alliance, Raise the Rates BC, Vancouver Fruit Tree Project, Food Stash Foundation, Mt. Pleasant Neighborhood House, Christina Mak, Wild Salmon Caravan, Vancouver Neighbourhood Food Networks, Check Your Head: the Youth Global Education Network, Growing Chefs!, FlourgirlBaking, East End Food Co-op, Sweet Cherubim Organic & Natural Foods, EastVan Bees, Eternal Abundance, and many more artists and food vendors.
The Grandview Woodland Food Connection is a recipient of VCH Community Food Action Initiative (CFAI) funding, which provides us core funding to run our many programs. As such, we are very pleased to be a part of this evaluation, which as you will see shows strong impact in the areas of access to local healthy food, community capacity to address food security, development and use of policy that supports community food security, and awareness, knowledge and skills about food security.
This evaluation has focused on exploring and summarizing six key findings that have relevance for the CFAI regionally and are evident across all of the communities that receive CFAI funding. Outcomes were strong in all areas of:
• An Equity Lens in CFAI
• Food Access
• Food Security Awareness, Knowledge and Skills
• Food Policy
• Community Capacity and Social Connections
• Collaboration and Partnerships
In addition, several key themes emerged through the evaluation findings that support further recommendations and future development.
• Articulating the VCH CFAI Framework and Support
• Taking a Systems Approach to Food Policy
• Building Organizational / Coordinator Capacity
• Supporting Learning, Evaluation and Measurement
First, an unusually cold early March, then sudden warming, then back to lots of rain. However you look at it, it has been a bit of a topsy turvy spring. Good news is that the weather (for now) has normalized enough to get planting. And so we have had lots of groups of students and teachers out in the garden in lots of ways.
Up in the Mary Jo garden, a group of Home Economics students help move soil into some of our new garden boxes, while other prepared the bed for planting, and planted various greens. They all seem to really enjoy the physical work, well most.
On another day, we learned about seeds as part of our planting. There is a surprising amount of information to learn just form the seed packs. In another class the students sorted seeds by appearance then packaged some beans that will be cooked up in a chili.
On sunny days, the gardens can look particularly beautiful. At the šxʷqʷeləwən ct Carving Pavilion garden, spring can look quite gorgeous with many of the native plants starting to flower, including the Red Current and Oregon grape.
Last week a group of Vancouver teachers visited the Britannia Gardens as part of the Farm to School Learning Circles. This program is an opportunity for school gardeners, teachers, parents and others to visit various school gardens and learn from experts how to create and develop classroom gardens. This past week we were joined by Megan Zeni of The Classroom Gardener, who shared her wonderful knowledge of teaching in the garden. Her main message – make gardening playful for the students.
And today, the Britannia Latin American youth group who were interested in doing some gardening came down to the garden to start their own box. These are youth from a variety of schools around Vancouver. Most are fairly new to Vancouver with one of the youth from Van Tech Secondary who had participated in the SOYL (Sustainable Opportunities for Youth Leadership) program and has taken the lead in their garden project.
FoodFit 2019 sessions have begun with our first full group now into their 4th week. Big thank you to Community Food Centres Canada for funding this initiative that is supporting community members who may have health concerns and/or interested in learning new healthy activity and food skills as they work towards improved health and well-being.
Our classes include a wide variety of participants including a number of newcomers, all ages, a number of people who have food intolerances, and vegetarians. We support all types of diets with the goal of helping people realize better health.
In a nutshell, the program combines fun, hands-on cooking sessions and food-based activities with take- home recipes, easy-to-understand nutrition information, group exercise, shared meals, self-directed individual and group goal-setting
We support each participants’ own motivation for change helping them move from current attitudes and less healthy circumstances toward realistic, sustainable healthier behaviours.
Feed back from past participants has been very positive. It is wonderful for us to know that the program is helping people feel good in their life. As one participant expressed, “the knowledge about different types of food variety and preparation brought about a positive change in me as I try various ingredients. The positive, very stimulating and encouraging approach of our facilitator is uplifting and brought out the best of all participants. Sharing and working together provided positive energy as well”. And as another participant commented, “I can make more balanced meal every day. I know how to choose the healthier food than before”.
FoodFit is also designed to support graduates of the program though monthly alumni sessions. This is an opportunity for participants to maintain support as they move towards a healthier lifestyle. Change is not always easy and staying connected to a group with common interest can really help. Our current alumni group has asked for more of a cultural focus as one of their themes so this month we have focused on Lunar New Year and Black History Month including cooking various items from the African Diaspora and Asian Cultures.
We are currently registering for our next FoodFit session. If you are interested or know someone who could benefit from this program, please contact Ian at 604-718-5895.
A big thank you Evergreen Foundation and Seeds of Change for their ongoing funding of our Britannia School/community garden program. Funds were used to extend our garden programming through this past fall, primarily to youth at the Britannia School Garden. This included 25 garden classes working with approximately 100 youth as well as 2 community seed saving workshops with a total of 23 participants.
These garden classes in particular, are providing valuable extracurricular education to youth on a whole range of food growing topics such as composting, soil health, winter gardening, seed saving, and native plants and cultural uses, which are helping to build stronger connections to the land and food sources. Youth are eager to be outside and keen to learn about food growing and ecology. Funds also allowed us to increase our physical capacity allowing us to purchase more garden tools as well as wood and soil to increase the number of garden beds in our 22,000 sq ft garden area. The building of 3 new raised boxes provided several students new construction skills, an important part of maintaining and developing gardens. We were also able to create two beautiful new bee education signs for both our mason bee homes and our honey bee hives.