Grandview Woodland Food Connection 2016 Highlights

It is always satisfying to look back on the year and the meaningful work that we have accomplished. As each year passes, awareness of the importance of food access and justice continues to grow. Everywhere in the media is talk of food security and the Grandview Woodland Food Connection along with our host organization, Britannia continue to lead the effort at the neighborhood level. This year at the GWFC was marked by an increased focus on reconciliation and the importance of addressing Indigenous food systems. We left 2016 looking very much forward to a few exciting new projects in 2017. Here a few highlights from the past year.

Wild Salmon Caravan – The GWFC was excited to partner with the Indigenous led Wild Salmon Defenders to help organize the 2016 Wild Salmon Caravan, recognizing the critically important cultural and ecological value of protecting wild salmon. Ensuring access to salmon, especially for Indigenous communities is a food justice priority.



Britannia Carving Pavilion Garden – The creation of the Carving Pavilion Garden is providing a unique opportunity for a class of Britannia Secondary students to learn about traditional and contemporary Indigenous foods, medicines, and other material plant uses.



Wild MindsThe georgeous 4.5 acre Strathcona and Cottonwood Gardens, with their wide diversity of spaces and species, provided the perfect two week Wild Minds youth summer gardening internship. A group of 10 youth got hands-on experience growing food, learning about ecology, and rewilding a garden area.



Britannia Bulk Buy – This food distribution program continues to expand and now serves over 60 low income households, improving their food access to healthy fruits and veggies at a cost savings of up to 40% over retail prices for participants. Additional food donations from the Greater Vancouver Food Bank and Choices food rescue help supplement this program.



Grade 3 Potato Farm – One of our favorite programs is the Britannia Elementary Potato Farm, which teaches the young students about the full food production cycle, including planting, watering, harvesting, cooking and eating a healthy roasted potatoes and veggie lunch that they grew themselves. Imagine the fun the kids had digging for buried spuds.



Britannia Day of Reconciliation – Britannia Community Centre has amended its constitution to better address reconciliation. Twice yearly, Britannia and the community recognize and celebrate achievements and work towards reconciliation. Food too can bridge difference and the GWFC was proud to help cater to the close to 400 people in attendance at this event.



Off the Grill Youth Meal Program – An wonderful group of Britannia youth help prepare, cook, and serve food as part of an outdoor warm season meal program serving youth and community members healthy dinners. The program builds food literacy, nutrition, and community. 724 meals were served with youth eating for free and community members paying $5.



Food Skills Workshops – A total of 16 food workshops, in addition to our community kitchens, were organized this year with over 100 people participating in a wide variety of workshops, ranging from sausage making, canning, fermentation, healthy vegan, tamales, sushi, kombucha, kefir, and more. All made for a healthy eating year.



Britannia School Garden Fundraiser – This year saw our most successful fundraiser, raising over $10,000 for school gardening as well as the Eastside Family Place Little Sprouts program and SEGA Girl’s School in Tanzania. The event drew over 100 supporters for an evening of music, dinner, large silent auction, and 27 amazing homemade desert pies.



McSpadden Park County Fair – Was great to participate in the 1st annual McSpadden Fair here in Grandview Woodland where we set up an information table and won 2nd prize for our Britannia garden basket. The featured highlight was the zucchini races, lots of fun for the kids, and which saw some very creative zucchini racers and a few mash ups.



Stone Soup Festival – Britannia and the Grandview Woodland Food Connection carry on the two decade old Stone Soup tradition in the sprit of celebrating healthy and sustainable food in our community. Despite a very wet spring, we were blessed with sunshine and around 2000 community members came to check out the food education, sustainability, and arts and culture.



WIld Minds Summer Youth Garden Program

For 10 glorious days this past summer, a group of youth came together with WILD MINDS and experienced a deep connection to nature where they had the unique opportunity to help re-wild an urban space, once a garbage dump and now an ecologically rich and diverse ecosystem.

The Wild Minds partnership brought together the Environmental Youth Alliance, the Grandview Woodland Food Connection, and Evergreen Foundation each providing youth mentorship and expertise in ecology, gardening, and youth engagement. The spaces to explore, the learning opportunities, and the simple beauty of these gardens are providing the youth a new persective of the city

Thank you to Evergreen Foundation Seeds of Change for their generous funding of this project.



Britannia Carving Pavilion Garden 2016

The rain finally let off just long enough for us to plant our new indigenous plants with the Britannia Secondary School Outreach class. The kids did well and are starting to warm up to the garden that they will continue to take care of as it grows. Funded through the Neighbourhood Matching Fund and working with herbalist Lori Snyder, the garden at the Britannia Community Services Centre Carving Pavilion will feature all indigenous plants and serve as an educational garden teaching us about traditional and contemporary Indigenous food, medicinal and other uses.

BC Poverty Reduction Coalition and the Living Wage for Families Campaign

The BC Poverty Reduction Coalition and the Living Wage for Families Campaign are hosting a 2-day workshop on Nov. 15-16 in Richmond for folks in poverty or those that work with them to develop skills and leadership in raising awareness and advocacy for systemic change. They are reaching out to 20-30 people from across the province with priority given to folks from indigenous organizations, newcomer organizations and directly impacted grassroots organizations. They are covering travel, accommodation, food and other expenses to make this event fully accessible.

Many local groups are over-burdened with dealing with the symptoms of poverty and need support in taking action at the systemic level to tackle the root causes of poverty. This workshop will bring together key provincial stakeholders for an intensive 2-day workshop in order to identify existing assets and work collaboratively on developing an effective provincial network. There has not been a provincial gathering of this nature in recent history so this has the potential to have a powerful impact.

During the workshop, asset mapping will demonstrate the strength of existing local initiatives and provide opportunities for learning across communities. The gathering will also include an evaluation of supports needed to work on systemic change and what is the most effective way to nurture that support within the local, regional and provincial context without adding too much to over-stretched groups.


BC Poverty Reduction Coalition

#810 – 815 West Hastings Street

Vancouver, BC  V6C 1B4

Coast Salish Territories

tel: 604-877-4553

Britannia School Potato Farm Harvest

Out behind the Britannia Elementary School is our Potato Farm, as we like call it. Four large potato boxes provide our grade 3 and 4’s the full food cycle experience of planting the spuds in the spring, watering, mounding, watching the plants grow, digging up the spuds in the fall, then preparing and eating what they grew. For the kids, the entire process is akin to a boisterous party as the children scream with pleasure, especially when digging up the potatoes, as if they are seeking lost treasure.

Planting the potatoes starts with the grade 3’s, usually in May. By October the spuds are ready for harvesting and for those students who are now in grade 4, its time to dig them all up. This year we dug up about 100 potatoes or a milk crate full. The students will then clean, chop, and roast the potatoes along with beets, parsnips, and turnips that they collected from another garden area. Each year a new group of Grade 3’s get to learn all about potatoes. The potato planting is extremely popular for the children and provides a very practical and fun learning experience that sticks in the kid’s minds.

Most students are very knowledgeable about food growing and healthy eating. To our surprise, many describe liking veggies such as kale and brussel sprouts. However, many of our students live in apartments and don’t have gardens at home, so are super keen to work in our gardens and grow their own food.

The Britannia School Gardens are quite extensive with four large garden areas that provide food growing learning for several classes in both the secondary and elementary schools on site. Our garden programs run year round and engage about 100 students each year. The Potato Farm is our most enjoyable project, simply because the younger students are so enthusiastic and excited to learn. As an organizer, to witness this level of engagement is very satisfying.

Working with the younger students is strategic. The younger students are very inquisitive and more open to gardening than older students. The Potato Farm and other garden activities familiarize these students with the garden earlier so they are comfortable working in the gardens as they graduate into secondary school. They are also more knowledgeable and less shy and have established a good relationship with the school garden organizers.

We are very proud of our garden programs here at Britannia, which connect students directly to the land and source of food along with issues of environmental sustainability. Students are gaining important skills and knowledge that best come through such hands-on learning. For many students, their time spent in the gardens, digging up potatoes and other veggies, are some of their most memorable school activities.