On Sunday October 29, close to 200 enthusiastic community members came together for a food and event-packed afternoon to celebrate Salt Spring Island Farmland Trust’s year-end celebration and the official launch of The Root food hub on Beddis Road.
Guests were greeted to workshops, presentations, facility and kitchen tours, the Ox Eats Grass vegan food truck, and a shared potluck meal and food exchange featuring local produce.
The gathering kicked off with Transition Salt Spring’s Biochar Working Group with a workshop demo showcasing biochar as a sustainable soil amendment with many benefits to agriculture. The Salt Spring Seed Society showcased its important work in preserving the island’s Seed Bank, crucial for protecting heritage seeds and plants.
Moe Wendt, the permaculture lead and expert on The Root Gardens restoration project, offered numerous tours of the gardens and his work, which has now attracted its own sizeable volunteer group.
An audience of 50 gathered to hear inspiring presentations from this season’s four Neighborhood Food Security Grant recipients for whom funding and mentorship supported gleaning/foraging and garden sharing projects in their communities. Thank you to the First West Island Savings - Community Endowment - Impact Grant that made these community projects possible.
Inspiring presentations were made by from Growland Community Gardens, an active neighbourhood group who created a cooperative community garden on an unused backyard donated to the cause. Gigi’s Orchards reported on its five intergenerational families who came together to restore a neglected heritage orchard.
Gabriel’s Kitchen in the G.I.F.T.S building shared its model of meal making once a week for at-risk and food-insecure members of the community by including those who access this program in collaborating in the cooking and serving one another.
Finally, IWAV’s Grow For It program developed garden spaces for those using its transition housing to work in, access food, and sell. Processing fresh produce into products that would keep longer and be appealing for residents, their children, and the public was identified as a need.
As visitors toured the capacity and equipment available at The Root’s commercial kitchen, cookies and warm zucchini muffins came hot off the press. In the lower basement/garage level, interest was piqued in the ample freezer and cold storage units for rent, as well as the apple press. Caitlyn Pal of the local.salt app invited visitors to learn more about her on-site Salt Jar Refillery, a zero-waste alternative for purchasing food basics, cleaning, and personal hygiene products without plastic packaging.
Also on the food scene was Ox Eats Grass, celebrating its official Grand Opening as Salt Spring’s newest food truck devoted to a plant-based vegan brunch menu now permanently located on-site at The Root. Salt Spring Coffee was present with urns of hot coffee, celebrating its 2023 partnership with Farmland Trust as the recipient its “Single Use Donation Fund,” the small surcharge patrons pay for take-away packaging.
Finally, inspired by the Food Share meet-ups led by Nick Jones and Polly Orr of Grow Local at The Root throughout summer and fall, a robust potluck of homemade dishes was shared and the surplus exchange economy of “bring what you have, take what you need” was the communal theme of the day.
“This moment has been a long time in the making and the momentum is inspiring,” says Dobie. “It has truly taken a village of dedicated board members, donors, partners, volunteers, local farmers, entrepreneurs, advocates, educators, government and foundation support, and the community at large to will this food hub into being. I’m excited and hopeful about the food and farmland future of our island and those who want to be a part of it.”