What is food security? Ultimately, real food security means that we have the capacity to sustain ourselves indefinitely with food we have grown, stored and cooked ourselves—not each of us as individuals, but at a larger regional scale.

Sea-buckthorn

Seabuckthorn from SpringRidge Commons. Photo: Mila Czemerys

Today, we rely on imports from around the world to bridge the gap between what we produce and what we consume. There is nothing wrong with this per se, but it is a reliance that exposes us to all kinds of possible interruptions in our food supply, from a natural disaster to rising energy prices. And, many of us either don’t have enough to eat, or don’t have access to quality food because it is unaffordable.

We are blessed to live in a region that has tremendous capacity to support life—and there are folks around who are pioneering new approaches to food production that are suited to the city, and can transform an urban lot into a food oasis.

Fernwood resident’s ideas for the future of our neighbourhood, March 2011, Neighbourhood Visioning Forum.

Part of our vision for the neighbourhood in the next five years is to scale up that production. We want to see food growing everywhere, and to celebrate what can be grown and produced in the city. We want Fernwood to become known as “the food neighbourhood,” where there is an emphasis on producing our own food and joyously consuming it.

Here are some steps we have already taken toward this goal:

  1. With funding from the federal government, we have been providing a nutritional program for mothers for over 15 years, including producing two lunches per week for the moms and moms-to-be,
  2. We also provide a lunch to our seniors program on Fridays (and, again, we have been doing so for over 15 years),
  3. We have increased our lunch program in our child care programs to once per week, and provide 2 snacks per day in both programs,
  4. In total, we produce approximately 700 portions per week in our downstairs kitchen, using a mix of purchased and donated food,
  5. We opened the Cornerstone Café in 2006, and have been increasing our menu over the past few years, now offering a full menu,
  6. We work with local restaurants and beverage providers across the region to hold Fernwood Bites, our annual food and drink tasting fundraiser which presents the best our local cuisine has to offer,
  7. In October of 2010, we took administrative responsibility for Springridge Common, our neighbourhood food forest, and have invested in the site and support the work of the Friends of Spring Ridge Common,
  8. In the past year, in conjunction with Permaculture BC, we have hosted a number of food production workshops  including a 3 month Permaculture Design Certificate course that gave participants over 100 hours of instruction and challenged them to work as teams to design permaculture systems for the grounds around the Fernwood Community Centre,
  9. In October this year, we took over the day to day administration and management of the Good Food Box program, which brings economical local and organic food to close to 300 families every two weeks, the majority of whom live in or very close to Fernwood. Over the next year, we hope to significantly expand this program, including moving to weekly delivery,
  10. We installed the Kitchen Garden, which is a full garden maintained by Fernwood NRG and harvested by our Fernwood Community Centre Chef Judy, who uses the produce in the aforementioned lunch programs,
  11. We planted the Fernwood Community Orchard, with 25 fruit bearing trees that will bear apples, pears, plums, and figs for the neighbourhood in coming years.
Good Food Box

The Good Food Box Program