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 get cut off – pandemics, natural disasters, ferries, supply chains. 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.
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 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.
Ella Bronstein studied Environmental Science at McGill University, and Sustainable Building at the Endeavour Centre. She is currently working towards a certificate in Sustainable Event Management at BCIT.
Ella co-manages Duck Creek Farm, a no-till market garden focused on non-chemical growing practices, with her family. Together they provide food for the local grocery stores, an eighty person weekly box program, and the Tuesday market. They also run weddings and events. In 2018/19 she worked as the event coordinator for the SS Agricultural Alliance, raising money for the abattoir and other local food programs.
Her passion for food security, farming and community resilience has led her to the Salt Spring Island Farmland Trust. Here, she hopes to create programs, infrastructure and networks that will support the island through challenging times and help a plethora of people have access to local food and land on which to grow.
Our Treasurer Stephane is an avid gardener and woodworker who moved to Salt Spring 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 engage with the community and fulfill its mandate of bringing farmland, people, and knowledge together to grow. She has a B.A. in English, an M.A. in Communications, and has been Founder and Director of her own Brand Strategy and Production Company, Commotion Media, for over 25 years.
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.
Society Bylaws - Amended April, 2020