Several Nanaimo societies centred around local food production, food access and employment are going to lose one of their founding members.
Craig Evans has been part of Nanaimo Foodshare since its inception 25 years ago, along with Growing Opportunities Farm Community Co-op for nearly a decade.
But as he faces a terminal cancer diagnosis, there’s a plan to carry on the legacy of his work.
At the Cline farm in Nanaimo, what was once a hay field is producing thousands of kilograms of fruits and vegetables to go in the Good Food Box for those on the margins.
“Most of the food that we grow goes to the Nanaimo Foodshare Society’s good food box program and so right now, they’re doing about six to seven hundred boxes a week, and so we try to put as much food in those boxes as we possibly can,” said Evans.
He’s been a hands-on farmer and teacher as Growing Opportunities ensures people with barriers to employment get jobs learning about and growing organic food. He’s also started Nanaimo Community Gardens and the Farmship Growers Cooperative.
“Now that we’re doing farms, there’s a lot of food available that we provide at a less than recovery cost because we can recover some of our costs from market sales at other markets,” said Evans.
In light of his cancer diagnosis this past May, this week marks Evans’ last harvest.
“I’m really thankful I’ve had time to reflect over all these summers I’ve had, 67 summers of life. It’s been quite a privilege and an honour. I’ve never been hit by shrapnel. Never been thrown a gun and taught how to be a sniper,” said Evans.
Nanaimo city councillor-elect Paul Manly has been friends with Evans since he was a teen.
“(He’s) an unsung hero in this community and he’s leaving us. It’s sad but that’s the cycle of life and here we are at the end of the harvest season and this is Craig’s last season on the farm,” said Manly.
Manly says the Nanaimo Association for Community Living has set up a fund in Evans’ honour.
“We’re working hard to ensure his legacy carries on and the dream that he has of building an inclusive and equitable sustainable food system on Vancouver Island carries on,” he added.
“That’s quite an honour do you know what I mean to have a legacy fund established and so I’m really humbled by it all,” said Evans.
Evans says he’s grateful to have provided food locally with the goal of improving food security on Vancouver Island.
Anyone who would like to give to the Craig Evans Legacy fund can follow this link, selecting the fund under the “Apply your donation to a fund set up by this charity” tab.