CHEK Upside: Royal Roads University creating food production hub

CHEK Upside: Royal Roads University creating food production hub

At Royal Roads University the first step in creating a living learning lab is underway.

The school’s new kitchen garden will act as a sustainable food production hub for the Westshore community in addition to being a vital tool for the university.

“I think it will be intimately related to the kind of learning and teaching we do around things like food security, the research we do around food security,” says university president Phillip Steenkamp.

“For people to have a chance to see where food is growing and how it grows and to be part of that process is really so important,” says Solara Goldwynn, the food systems manager for the university.

It is also a part of the university’s Vision in Bloom fundraising campaign, a project aimed at raising $250,000 to help restore, re-imagine and sustain the campus’ many gardens and landscapes.

“We’re very keen of course to get any kind of support we have. If people can provide funding to support this, that’s fantastic,” says Steenkamp.

“If people would like to provide labour that is fantastic too, there are all kinds of ways of making a contribution.”

For Steenkamp and Royal Roads the garden is the culmination of years of planning.

“I remember the first week I walked in these gardens and I thought there’s huge potential here to bring food production back,” says Steenkamp.

“So we all got together, we created a guiding committee and it’s taken a little while to get to this point but here we are finally today.”

The kitchen garden will also feature Indigenous elements as well, honouring the university’s ties with the Xwsepsum and Lekwungen peoples.

“This place did not begin with the construction of the Dunsmuir estate,” says Steenkamp.

“Indigenous families have lived here for thousands of years and that connection continues to these lands, so we see this as an opportunity to respect that legacy.”

The first garden harvest is slated for mid-September.

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Cole SorensonCole Sorenson

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