Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life. World Food Summit, 1996

As we write this blog post, the COVID-19 pandemic is in its fourth wave across Canada and the pending echo pandemic highlight how food security is connected to poverty and is dependent on basic social determinants of health. The opportunity to contribute towards building a more socially just and resilient regional food system has become increasingly important and urgent, particularly for vulnerable populations in society (e.g., homeless populations, food insecure populations).

Getting to Know Us: The Farmlands Trust (Greater Victoria) Society

Farmlands Trust Society Logo (Greater Victoria)

Founded in 2008, The Farmlands Trust (Greater Victoria) Society is a charitable not-for-profit organization based in Saanichton, British Columbia (BC). Our mission is to enhance farming capacity in the Greater Victoria area by protecting local farmland, protecting eco-sensitive and culturally special areas, producing food for those in need, providing relevant educational opportunities, promoting the economic viability of farmland, and providing community access and public awareness programs. Through our work, we liaise with a diverse community ranging from the Greater Victoria farming community, orders of government (municipal, provincial, federal) to food banks and drop-in centers for persons in need in society.

Re-Distributing Food to Vulnerable Populations

Field to plate farm, green plants growing, from the Farmlands Trust Society in Greater Victoria

From 2013 to present, the FLT Society leads the “field to plate” initiative on a 1.3 hectare portion of the historic 100+ year old Newman Farm in Saanichton, BC. Specifically, our FLT Society team and local volunteers grow, harvest, and share local produce with Our Place Society – a local homeless shelter and soup kitchen in Victoria, BC to aid in relieving poverty and mitigating food insecurity for marginalized populations in the Greater Victoria region. From 2014 – 2020, the FLT Society’s cumulative “field to plate” initiative total is over 72,000 lbs. of produce grown, harvested, and shared with food insecure populations in the Greater Victoria region (notably, for Our Place Society’s regional meal and snack programs), worth over $177,000.00.
The sheer size and quality of the FLT Society’s donation has not only enabled us to deliver our food services on budget but also very nutritious food. Homeless folks often have many health challenges and our ability to serve nutritious and healthy food really makes a positive impact physically and psychologically. Julian Daly, Chief Executive OfficerOur Place Society

Growing Relationships with West Coast Seeds – Seed Donation Program

An instrumental part of ensuring the sustainability of the FLT Society’s charitable agricultural stewardship endeavours is having access to quality organic seeds for our “field to plate” and certified bee-friendly farming programs.

From 2019 to present, West Coast Seeds (via the Seeds Donation Program) has been providing the FLT Society with a diverse array of seeds that align with a customized menu of assorted veggies and herbs that are grown, harvested, and shared with Our Place Society’s Food Services Department.

Rows of vegetables growing at the Farmlands Trust Society (Greater Victoria)

In recognition of the important role that bees and other pollinators play in food systems, we also set aside a portion of Newman Farm to further the FLT Society’s national award-winning certified bee-friendly farming practices. Through West Coast Seeds Seed Donation Program, assorted flower seeds also provide a beautiful display of flowers to support pollination activities that are a companion program to our “field to plate” initiative.

Pollinator Garden sign with sunflowers in background, Farmlands Trust Society (Greater Victoria)

During summer 2021, we were fortunate to coordinate a visit for Erika Simms (West Coast Seeds) to have a walkabout/guided tour at Newman Farm to highlight and recognize how West Coast Seeds has and continues to contribute to the FLT Society’s charitable agricultural stewardship at the historic Newman Farm. Thanks Erika – we thoroughly enjoyed meeting you!

Person standing in garden with camera at the Farmland Trust Society (Greater Victoria)

For more information about the FLT Society:

Visit our website:
Volunteer with the FLT Society:
Donate to the FLT Society:
Join us on Twitter: @FarmlandsTrust
Join us on Facebook: The Farmlands Trust Society

About the Authors:

Natasha Caverley is the FLT Society Board Secretary since 2009. Bert James is the FLT Society Newman Farm Manager since 2016.

Photo credits: Bert James (FLT Society Newman Farm Manager) and Natasha Caverley (FLT Society Board Secretary)