People of all ages fill bags with freshly picked fruit and vegetables from within the local region…for which they haven’t exchanged any financial currency. It’s word of mouth, informal networks of exchange. Produce Items go home to their families with nutrient dense foods, fostering a strong link. They search up recipes for different ways to cook the produce they perhaps typically wouldn’t have access to.
Community members gathering around food seedlings being distributed at no cost, with the sole intention of encouraging more home-scale urban food production. This sounds like a dreamy vision for the future, but we have been witnessing it unfold before our very eyes over the last four years. In many ways, it’s a dream come true and honestly brings tears to our eyes.
This is the work, and an unspoken one of community members getting together and saying, “what’s happening is really wrong, and it’s time for us to make changes for ourselves”. Mutual aid systems are about people taking action without waiting for government intervention or support - looking out for each other and providing community care across age, race, gender, ability, and faiths.
The collective’s humble roots were in teaching people about growing in burlap sack vertical gardens, and most of the opportunities for connection have come from community members and organizations reaching out to see how they could support and provide food to their community. It becomes magnetic - the feeling of gratitude and witnessing generosity prompts a
desire for reciprocity, and people come up with creative ways to contribute with whatever resources they have available to them.
This year we have been so blessed to build amazing relationships with growers, producers, food access organizations, mutual aid groups, and other community groups in our mission to create more equitable access to local food and particularly culturally relevant foods. These are a few of the partnerships we would like to highlight from 2023:
Solara Goldwynn, Food Systems Coordinator at Royal Roads University’s Giving Garden - Solara has been answering the call, growing and providing culturally relevant crops such as collard greens, Callaloo, and the mighty Red kuri squash.
Building relationships with Emily and Tyler, farmers of The Plot Market Garden, who have provided produce boxes for our communities for three years now,
Forming partnership with Lisa Willott - the Vancouver Island Seed Security Coordinator for Farm Folk City Folk - who has grown some unique varieties of culturally relevant crops including cowpeas, chickpeas, amaranth/callaloo, and watermelon, amongst others, at her plot at the Sandown Centre for Regenerative Agriculture,
Working with the Esquimalt Farmers Market to provide Marketbucks (market credit) to BIPOC and low income families to be able to access goods at the market,
Allying with Fernwood NRG’s Good Food Box to provide 10 boxes to IBPOC communities over the past 3 years,
Engaging in ongoing conversations with The City of Victoria’s Get Growing, Victoria! program; we were thrilled to see the addition of collard greens in their seedling offerings this year inspired by the desires of our communities,
Receiving freshly harvested fruit (apples and pears) from around the city thanks to the awesome work of the folks at Lifecycles Project Society,
Accepting fruit donations from neighbours like Austen Adams, owner-operator of All That Grows.
Reflecting on all the generosity from within our ecosystem truly blows us away. Countless families have been provided with nutrient dense food at no cost to them thanks to these
wonderful individuals and organizations. But this is just the beginning - there’s a long way to go before these families are regularly accessing foods like these, and foods that are culturally meaningful to them.
This work is complex and multi-faceted, involving addressing systemic and structural issues like wealth inequality, unaffordable housing, structural racism, and a hyper-globalized food system. However the ongoing nourishment from our web of relations that sustains us, and gives us hope that future generations may experience more
abundance if we continue investing in strengthening community and relocalizing food production with equity, compassion, relational accountability at the centre.
Thank you to everyone who has contributed in any form to our work this year and in the past four years. We have profound gratitude for each of the beautiful gifts you have all brought to our communities. May reciprocity continue to inspire reciprocity.