In August 2006, the Galiano Club applied for and received funding from the Vancouver Foundation to upgrade the South Hall kitchen with a view to establishing a Food Program. We had no clear idea of what it might be, how a food program would be received or where it might lead. Some of the concerns identified at the time were that, as an island community, we were dependent on ferries for almost all our food, that we were at risk of losing the skills of previous generations of growing, foraging, canning and even some food preparation. At that time quite a few of our residents were living below the poverty line and struggling to have enough food. There also was a rather vague idea and hope that we might be able to bridge some of the divisions in the community through food.
Ten years ago this month the Galiano Club received confirmation of grant funding from Vancouver and Victoria Foundations to start a Food Program. We reached out to the community to establish an advisory committee and job descriptions. Janice Oakley and Martine Paulin were our first part-time Coordinators and became the face of the Program. They set high standards of creativity, community involvement and integrity. In addition to Janice and Martine, we have been fortunate to have had some outstanding people work for the Program – Nicole Mouner, Genny Stirling, Alison Colwell, Emma Davis, Barry New, Colleen Doty and Janna Feldman. Alison Colwell is now the part-time Manager and Emma, Barry and Janna are part-time Coordinators. The Program would not have grown as it has without all of their skills and commitment and without the tremendous support from the community as teachers and mentors, participants, land lenders, evaluators, funders and donors.
Looking around on a Soup and Bread day, at a Games Night, an elders’ and kids’ luncheon, the annual Winter Solstice Dinner, at Nettlefest, the Community Picnic, at food activities at the School and in the School Garden, it seems like some new traditions have been established. The Community Greenhouse, the Garlic Growing Co-op and Gleaning, the Stock Up Market, the thriving Saturday Farmers’ Market and the new farms are all indications of real growth toward island sustainability. Seeing the different ages interacting and people from all parts of the island connecting through food, it feels like the Food Program has been a catalyst for some good things in our small community.
It has been a wonderful voyage and the journey continues. Thank you Galiano!