Author, Pathway to Regeneration Bowen Island FoodResilience Society and Grafton Commons
Food Resilience Society on Bowen Island
Phil Gregory was the special guest speaker to Bowen Rotary on Oct 24, 2022, at Artisan Eats.
We recorded the audio of Phil’s talk, and Phil has created a video of the whole presentation. You may watch it here (or on YouTube):
The Bowen Island Food Resilience Society (BIFS) is an organization that is home to backyard and market gardeners, climate activists, and community-minded islanders who are working together to create a resilient food system. BIFS started out in 2017 as a joint committee of Bowen Agricultural Alliance (BAA) and Bowen In Transition (now Regenerative Bowen Island). It became a registered society in Jan. 2020 with a mission to build skills, knowledge, networks, and structures needed to create a healthy, resilient, community-based food system that addresses the climate emergency and social justice issues. In 2021, the Pesticide Working Group published a report summarizing its research and recommended a cosmetic pesticide ban for Bowen. This led to the adoption by the municipality of the Pesticide Use Control Bylaw no. 556 on Mar. 14, 2022. Please visit the website bowenfoodresilience.ca to learn more about the various projects and publications. Education plays a big role in the way BIFS operates at the community and school level.
One important BIFS’ project is managing 4 acres of Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) referred to as the Grafton Agricultural Commons or more simply as the Grafton Commons (GC). It is part of a large development in the neighbourhood of Grafton Lake. The developer’s goal is to transfer the ownership of the 4 acres ALR parcel to a suitably constituted community entity that can operate the GC farm in an economic and environmentally sustainable way. You may visit the Grafton Commons at this location:
Currently, approximately ¾ of an acre of the best land is fenced and is being managed by BIFS as a community garden to grow food using the principles of regenerative agriculture. At this point the garden is all volunteer run. The fenced area shown in the photo below consists of the main growing region (0.64 acres) which is ringed by fruit and nut trees, and the box garden (0.12 acres).
You don’t have to dig very deep to realize that this land was once a beach so we have been creating good organic soil on top by building lasagna beds and inoculating them with a diversity of soil microbes from our compost. One of the advantages of lasagna beds is that they are very effective at infiltrating and storing rain water which helps to make a garden drought resilient. So far we have given 4 workshops on lasagna bed making.
If islanders are drawn to participate in a community project and would like to learn about regenerative gardening/farming, join some of the society’s work parties at the gardens and/or attend some of the workshops. BIFS also welcomes people with practical skills that can repair and build things like compost bins and sheds, or operate small machinery. Help with plumbing and wiring a future greenhouse are other skills that may be needed.
To implement the larger vision, including a greenhouse, in the near future BIFS will also require raising more money. It is currently raising money to further develop the farm through a variety of ways such as marketing its produce at the Bowen Farmers’ Market, selling organic straw and participating annually in recycling through the Bowen Island’s Refundables Assist Program.
Much of the remainder of the 4 acres is on a northwest facing slope, heavily overgrown in alders, which in the past was used for a haying operation. BIF plans to evolve a vision for how this land can support BIFS food resilience goal which is consistent with the principles of regenerative organic agriculture.
The BIFS board members are:
Jackie Bradley, Elaine Cameron, Phil Gregory, Rabia Wilcox, Soorya Resels
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