Saturday July 29, 2023 | LANGFORD, BC [Updated 8:50 pm]
by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends
Over the span of two presentations in June and July, the City of Langford heard about urban food resilience from local resident Mary Brooke, B.Sc. (Foods and Nutrition).
Mary has a keen interest in seeing urban communities begin fortifying the ability of residents and neighbourhoods to boost their own food-growing skills.
Growing food in community gardens as well as in backyards and on patios can be fun. But it can also fill in gaps during times of food insecurity.
Rising cost of living:
More than a hobby, providing the capacity to launch and maintain food-growing gardens is becoming a recognized responsibility for municipalities.
The overall cost of living has been increasing rapidly — almost everything has been impacted by rapidly rising interest rates over the past 18 months. That includes housing and groceries most noticeably, but also the cost of nearly everything else as the cost of interest becomes embedded in pricing across the economy.
Two presentations by Mary P Brooke:
Ms Brooke made 10-minute presentations to each of Langford’s two committees:
- The City of Langford Sustainable Development Committee (June 12, 2023) heard about planning for food-growing infrastructure — from zoning and development permit changes to require food-growing infrastructure at the time of construction or enabling its installation down the road.
- The City of Langford Community Advisory Committee (July 25, 2023) heard about developing a food growing learning centre, food garden installation incentives, developing a directory of businesses that support food-growing activities, and a broad ongoing public education campaign.
Municipalities at different places and paces:
Each municipality in Greater Victoria’s west shore is at different stages of development when it comes to food-growing community-level supports and initiatives. Each municipality is moving along at its own pace as to engaging with community and adapting infrastructure and community programs in support of household and neighbourhood food resilience.
Regional, provincial and federal:
The Capital Regional District (CRD) has undertaken long-standing efforts around watershed protection, reliable water distribution and composting. The CRD has an Agricultural Advisory Planning Commission.
The BC government is very active in 2023 with a range of programs and initiatives through the Ministry of Agriculture and Food. Under Agriculture and Food Minister Pam Alexis, the ministry if addressing the expansion of food production (including for small producers/businesses), addressing drought resilience, promoting farmers markets, and providing nutrition coupons to low-income families and seniors.
The federal Agriculture and Agri-Food Committee has been studying soil health, grocery store food prices, and the environmental impacts of agriculture. Vancouver Island MP Alistair MacGregor (Cowichan-Malahat-Langford) sits on that committee.
Presentations by Mary P Brooke, B.Sc.:
Mary Brooke has a B.Sc. in Foods and Nutrition with a strong component of community education and sociology. She is particularly keen about people’s ability to maintain a healthy diet in times of financial stress or emergency situations, and sees municipalities in having a role to help support that sense of resilience.
Mary’s presentation is available to other municipalities and to school districts. To arrange a presentation, email to Mary P Brooke, B.Sc., Urban Food Consultant.
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