The Farmland Trust (Salt Spring Island Farmland Trust Society) was established in 2009 and is a registered charity. It functions with a working volunteer board, with all-new members being inducted in June, 2021.
The need for The FLT, along with The Root food hub, was identified in 2008’s Area Farm Plan in response to a loss of agricultural production on Salt Spring and reliance on imported food. Much of the farmland previously in use was being lost, either to development or disrepair.
The Farmland Trust was established to receive ALR parcels (Agricultural Land Reserves) as gifts, donations, and bequeathments, making this land available to reinvigorate local food production – be it small family garden plots or larger farm acreages. .
Under its umbrella, The Farmland Trust’s primary function has been The Burgoyne Valley Community Farm which is currently divided among four commercial farm acreages, one Community Services farm, and 90 family garden plots, all of which FLT leases and manages at affordable rates.
The Root is the Island’s only food hub and looks forward to opening its doors late 2022. The Root will benefit farmers and food producers, as well as family gardeners and the general public by offering cold storage, washing stations, a seed bank, commercial kitchen, and a robust program of food and farming-related educational opportunities.
The Farmland Trust is one of nine members of advisory committee The Agricultural Alliance.
Providing access to land, equipment, tools, seeds, knowledge, markets.
As an island, we can be vulnerable – pandemics, natural disasters, ferries, supply chains. Climate is impacting us all. The more we are able to grow for ourselves, the more we are prepared.
For the environment, we need more sustainable models and farming techniques, less packaging, less mileage as we move forward.
We’re committed to make the economics of local farms more robust, empower them to produce at higher scales, and attract young, strong newcomers to enter the tough work of farming. For the future.
We support active and respectful reconciliation initiatives including land acknowledgement and forming partnerships, food systems, and knowledge systems with the Island’s Indigenous people.
We are committed to embracing collaboration with other like-minded organizations and allies to share resources, information, and efforts to advance our collective food resilience goals for the community.
Meet our enthusiastic and experienced board members.
Sheila Dobie, Co-Chair
Sheila has done Community Development in the not-for-profit sector for 30 years in a range of fields including the seafood industry, recycling, food co-ops, artist co-ops and agricultural groups, and community asset building. She was educated in the natural resources sector in the early days when foresters were being trained in colleges with hope for new holistic ways for forest management. She worked for Parks as a naturalist to talk about the value of respecting the natural world around us.
Sheila has always been a foodie, and today there is nothing more inspiring to her than growing and eating her own food, seeing how others grow food, and being part of a whole, regenerative, reciprocal local food system. This is the most important thing - in her mind- for our time; nourish healthy bodies, and minds, and create a spirit of community with food.
Sheila has been on SSI for 7 years, has spent 10 years as an organic farmer and orchardist in the interior.
Nicole Melanson, Co-Chair
Nicole has a B.A. in International Development and Sociology, as well as a certificate in Community Economic Development. She has been passionate about organic growing, food security, and food justice for nearly 20 years.
Nicole landed on Salt Spring in 2005 to work on a farm for the summer, and she ended up staying. Today, she lives on a hobby farm with her husband and two sons. She has worked for Salt Spring Coffee, Island Savings, and the WorkBC Employment Centre. Nicole served on the 2013 SSI Governance Study committee and has held several board/steering committee positions including Tree Frog Daycare, The Root, and the Transition Salt Spring Enterprise Co-op.
She currently works as a Housing First Case Management Worker with SSI Community Services.
Valerie Perkins, Director
Valerie credits her love for growing food to her grandmother and seeing the old Victory Garden post war in her native England. She has lived on Salt Spring Island since 1972 and grown gardens in many island locations. She presently operates Rainbow Road Farm Produce and Top ‘O’ the Hill Farmstand, doing what one person can to provide locally grown, healthy food.
In 1969 she quit college to travel the world. After three years and 36 countries, she finally settled on Salt Spring Island as the best place on earth -- a wonderful place to build a house and raise a family. She found employment with BC Ferries for 28 years which helped to support her love of the island and growing food.
Recognizing the high cost of land for entry level farmers, Valerie is pleased to be involved with Farmland Trust’s Burgoyne Valley Community Farm and inspired by the many gardeners who feed their families and the farmers who support our local food supply.
Tony Beck, Treasurer
Tony has been involved with good local food for as far back as he can remember. On Salt Spring he helped shepherd through the 2020 Area Farm Plan (Salt Spring’s strategic plan for agriculture) as chair of the Agricultural Allianceand also sat on the SSI Abattoir Board.
Prior to that he carried out action research on access to good local food for underserved BC populations, and for 12 years coordinated a network against the introduction of genetically engineered foods into BC which led to 20 municipalities across BC passing resolutions against GE crops. Salt Spring, through the work of the various food-based organizations now has the opportunity to build a more resilient, fair, and sustainable food system that can meet the challenges of global warming.
Tony spent five years researching ways in which natural resources support the livelihoods of very poor women in India, and the equity implications of the introduction of high yielding varieties of rice. Professionally he worked for 25 years for the United Nations focusing on poverty, gender and the environment.
Kirsten Bolton, Director
Kirsten relocated from Calgary to Salt Spring in 2021 after 30 years of annual visits to her parents’ seaside heritage property. The natural Pacific Northwest landscape and quirky, creative, farm-focussed vibe of the Island led Kirsten to both artistic breakthroughs and soul-centering calm.
A professional brand strategist, writer, and filmmaker, Kirsten has long been a foodie with an interest in local “taste of place” experiences. Her role on the board affords her the opportunity to meet farmers, growers, and producers to discover their stories, perspectives on what they produce, and to dig deeper into the terroir of what makes Salt Spring so special.
As a marketing and communications expert, Kirsten helps The Farmland Trust connect with the community. She has been Founder and Director of her own Brand Strategy and Production Company, Commotion Media, for over 25 years and is currently the Communications Manager at ArtSpring.
Alexandra Montgomery, Director
Before moving to Salt Spring in 2021, Alexandra Montgomery enjoyed a thirty-year career in Canada’s not for profit sector. She held leadership positions at the Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art and the Canadian Opera Company in Toronto, as well as the Bill Reid Gallery in Vancouver.
Alexandra has a BA (Hons.) in Art History (Queen’s University, Kingston) and an MBA from the Schulich School of Business (York University, Toronto). Alexandra is a Certified Fundraising Executive and an alumna of The Judy Project at the Rotman School of Business.
Alexandra currently serves on the Boards of the Siminovitch Prize, Salt Spring Arts, and the Salt Spring Island Farmland Trust. She is committed to contributing to the health and resiliency of her community.
Lifelong interests include contemporary fiction, visual arts, film, and ceramics. Moving to Salt Spring has allowed her to expand her interests to include gardening, basket making, and spending more time with her husband and Hector, her dog.
Jon Cooksey, Director
Jon divides his time between non-profit work and his on-going career as a writer/producer for TV, film and digital platforms. He first came to Salt Spring in 2010 for a screening of his comedic documentary about overshoot, called How to Boil a Frog, in which he acted as writer, director, producer and court jester. That led into activism on environmental and energy issues, and later into marrying his college sweetheart, Pam Tarr. Pam and Jon have since worked together as consultants on the political side, with the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project, and later on projects that focused on carbon sequestration through regenerative agriculture, with the American Farmland Trust and the Carbon Underground.
After moving to Salt Spring in 2020, Pam and Jon ran the successful campaign to raise money for the new Community Park on Hwumet’utsum (Mt. Maxwell), which led Pam into her engagement work with Salt Spring Solutions, and Jon into joining the Board of the SSI Farmland Trust. He has a particular interest in using a systemic approach to build out Salt Spring’s food security in a time when multiple factors are making outside sources of food less reliable.
Stephane Aucoin, Director
Former Treasurer Stephane is an avid gardener and woodworker who moved to Salt Spring over five years ago. Prior to his arrival, he spent twelve years in the Yukon where he explored its vast wilderness in between working as a management consultant, a carpenter, building a fish and chip business, and starting a family.
A mechanical engineer by training, Stéphane’s experience includes being a senior management consultant on projects for large North American corporations and working on development projects in Madagascar. He’s worked on projects ranging from developing corporate strategies, implementing program management offices, consulting on board governance, developing and building hygiene, water, and sanitation programs, building houses, and building and running a commercial kitchen.
On Salt Spring, Stephane works on building a home for his family. A full-time stay-at-home father, Stephane spends his time finishing the family home, gardening, raising pigs, cooking, cleaning dishes, doing laundry, and fixing whatever needs to be fixed. In his spare time, Stephane also does fine woodworking and volunteers with the Salt Spring Elementary School to help build their school garden infrastructure.
Daria Zovi, Secretary
Daria studied agriculture and environmental science in Italy and the Netherlands before moving to Canada where she obtained a BSC in Agriculture from UBC in 1997. She currently works as an organic farm & processor inspector throughout BC and is the owner of Quarry Farm on SSI which operates a 35 member CSA. Her Chorus Frog Farm brand concentrates on seedlings and starters for veggies, herbs,
Over the years she has worked on several different SSI farms, been head gardener at Hastings House
Hotel, and established the vineyard at what is now Kutatus Wines. Daria represents ING on the SSI
Agricultural Alliance and is the current secretary.
Meet Our Program & Services Team
Zoe Curelly, Root Operations Manager
Growing up in a remote town in Northern B.C. among a family of adventurers, Zoe Currelly developed a deep connection to the environment and people of British Columbia. After a few urbanite years in Montreal and Vancouver, she now lives in a beautiful cabin on Salt Spring Island.
A chef by trade, Zoe has spent the last 20 years cooking in remote mining exploration camps, pop-up kitchens, and catering trucks, feeding everyone from dusty miners to movie stars. She started and marketed a small food manufacturing company called Salt Spring Harvest in 2016 when she couldn’t find a tasty végé-pâté in stores. Salt Spring Harvest merged her love for feeding people and her desire to contribute to a better shared future through food. She sold to a public company in 2016.
She remains passionate about local food, delicious tastes, sustainable business, operational systems, collaboration, and communication. And pets. Zoe is the go-to person to connect with for renting The Root’s facilities, equipment, or contributing to FLT’s Knowledge Series.
Nick Jones & Polly Orr, Grow Local
Local producers and food justice advocates Nick Jones and Polly Orr co-lead the Grow Local initiative. Launched as an eight-month pilot project in 2022 by Salt Spring Agricultural Alliance, the duo worked to identify projects and relationships that develop and strengthen shorter supply chains for the food we eat and increase the viability of island businesses while also reducing our carbon footprint.
Nick and Polly organized FLT’s Foodraiser in the fall and now work with FLT to implement specific programs.The mission is to fill gaps and improve services to increase the amount of our diet that is produced locally.
Grow Local’s aims to improve connections to local food and the land through promoting collaboration, innovation, trust building, and direct action towards greater food sovereignty on the island. Specifically, they focus on project incubation, resource allocation, community building, and applied research within a growing network of organizations, businesses, entrepreneurs, families and neighbourhoods.
They wish to acknowledge they live on the ancestral and unceded traditional territory of the Hul’qumi’num and SENĆOŦEN speaking Coast Salish peoples and practice decolonization in their work and relationships.
Our values underscore all our decision-making and our relationships with stakeholders – from construction to policies, programs to operations, and the delivery of the Farmland offering.
We engage in listening and learning -- with the community, each other, and the land.
We conduct our efforts with integrity, transparency, and accountability.
We RESPECT, RESTORE, and REVITALIZE land for farming and growing.
We are financially and environmentally sustainable.
We are exuberant, energized, and optimistic in our approach.
We are passionate builders of connections, capacity, and community.