Tuesday May 30, 2023 | COLWOOD, BC [Updated June 1, 2023]
by Mary P Brooke, B.Sc., Editor | Island Social Trends
Over 100 people showed up at the Farm at Royal Roads University (RRU) to hear some exciting news!
Under bright blue skies with a bit of a breeze, RRU President Philip Steenkamp announced that the TD Bank Group has donated $196,000 to support growing The Farm at Royal Roads University.
Why precisely $196,000? That’s the amount that the grant application specified, when all the components were added up, said Bruce Gray, Vancouver Island District Vice President, TD Bank Group.
A Vision in Bloom annual fundraising:
RRU had applied for the grant funding and received the incoming funds during their annual grounds and gardens fundraising appeal called A Vision in Bloom.
“With support from TD, our efforts to address food security, climate adaptation and reconciliation on the Farm will help us transform the space and become home to an expanded, diverse, community-based resource in the years to come,” says Royal Roads University President Philip Steenkamp.
Community donations to A Vision in Bloom – Royal Roads’ annual fundraising appeal – supports further development of the gardens, including the revitalization of the Japanese Gardens and the construction of a traditional Japanese teahouse on the grounds. The historic greenhouse will also be restored.
Visit www.rruinbloom.ca to donate.
Tackling food insecurity:
A Vision in Bloom focuses on further developing the campus grounds to help tackle food insecurity, act on reconciliation, restore and preserve cultural heritage, and create biodiversity on the West Shore.
The Farm at Royal Roads is a reimagining of the former 5.26-acre walled Edwardian kitchen garden situated near Hatley Castle.
The farm produced more than 1,000 pounds of fresh vegetables during its first growing year in 2022.
Dubbed the Giving Garden, the produce was provided to “food-insecure residents on the west shore” including seniors, single parents, and newcomers to Canada. As well, some of the produce has been placed in an on-campus community fridge for students.
Expansion to include a Market Garden:
This year, through the generous donation from TD and further support from the community, RRU will focus on expanding the Giving Garden, as well as establishing a Market Garden, which will sell produce to partners and the public at a campus farm stand with revenue reinvested into the Farm.
At present, the site of the future Market Garden is a nicely mowed grass lawn.
Indigenous Medicine Garden and Polyculture Orchard:
Other plans include the establishment of an irrigated Indigenous Medicine Garden and Polyculture Orchard. The number of trees and biodiversity of plants will increase by 100 per cent over the next two years, says RRU.
The Polyculture Orchard project will aim to bring existing trees (100-year-old apple and pear trees) back to health, while also adding to the diversity of the orchard through planting more fruit and nut trees, and to under-plant them with support species such as soil-building plants, pollinator attracting plants, and nitrogen fixing plants.
The Indigenous Food and Medicine Garden has been reclaimed from invasive species such as flag iris and will be transformed into a food and medicine garden and hedgerow under the guidance of local Indigenous elders, ethnobotanitsts, and land managers. The consultation and design process is underway.
Today Lekwungen First Nations Elder Butch Dick delivered a greeting to the assembled crowd, and was thanked for that by President Steenkamp.
The Farm will offer learning opportunities for community members, staff, faculty and students.
The Farm serves as a learning and research space for faculty, students and community members, providing hands-on educational experiences focusing on agricultural approaches that incorporate climate adaptation strategies and Indigenous ways of knowing.
“The opportunity to learn wise practices and try new ways of growing food – from sowing cover crops in the winter to creating spots in the garden that welcome pollinators – to try to adapt to our changing climate is invaluable to have first-hand experience with,” says Nancy Prevost-Maurice, a student in the university’s Master of Arts in Climate Action Leadership.
“It’s been a life-changing experience to integrate this learning and participate in the co-creation of plans for an Indigenous Medicine Garden.”
TD leadership at today’s event:
Attending today’s announcement at RRU were six TD executives. They sat along the front row of the outdoor seating on the lawn facing the food-growing plots.
“We’re so proud to help The Farm at RRU with their critical work to tackle food insecurity, advance reconciliation and increase climate resiliency,” said Bruce Gray, Vancouver Island District Vice President, TD Bank Group.
“Through the TD Ready Commitment, our corporate citizenship platform, we’re supporting organizations focused on enhancing and activating green spaces that help build stronger, more resilient communities,” said Gray.
Sitting three in a row at today’s outdoor announcement were three municipal mayors: Colwood Mayor Doug Kobayashi, Metchosin Mayor Marie-Térèse Little, and Langford Mayor Scott Goodmanson. Also attending from municipal councils were Colwood Councillors David Grove and Misty Olsen and Langford Councillor Mary J Wagner.
Goodmanson and Little afterward told Island Social Trends that they’re seeing a greater level of collaboration among the west shore municipalities, something that local MLA Mitzi Dean (Esquimalt-Metchosin) told Island Social Trends last week during her Esquimalt-Metchosin mixer in View Royal.
This seems to be an instinctual response to the urgency of things like cost of living, land use and climate impacts that impact almost all residents of the west shore region.
RRU President Steenkamp acknowledged the work of faculty and staff who have been instrumental in the development of the Farm and overall Vision in Bloom projects.
Steenkamp also acknowledged local media for attending to cover the news of this venture, as well as members of the public who attended.
Garden volunteers are also welcome throughout the year to help with food production in the Giving Garden. Volunteer sessions are held biweekly on Tuesdays and Thursdays over the lunch hour.
Big yield for inaugural Royal Roads community garden (October 3, 2022)
Food production garden gets growing at Royal Roads (April 13, 2022)
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Island Social Trends (and the previous publications MapleLine Magazine 2008-2010, Sooke Voice News 2011-2013, and West Shore Voice News 2014-2020) delivers socioeconomic news insights about life on the west shore of south Vancouver Island. All news is posted at IslandSocialTrends.ca.
Through these past 15 years Editor Mary P Brooke has been penning editorials that shed light in ways that provide leadership in sociopolitical understanding as well as the how journalism is faring amidst the landscape of the digital media onslaught.
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