LifeCycles Project Society
Our Impact Why We Exist
Over 18,500 households in Greater Victoria experience food insecurity and, together with more than 380 volunteers and 92 community partners, LifeCycles is addressing the root causes of local food insecurity. Each year we harvested and redistributed almost 30,000 lbs of local produce - that otherwise would have gone to waste - and gave it away to more than 19,000 people in the Capital Region. With our community partners (including 10 elementary schools, 2 municipalities, 3 social housing providers and more) we delivered 110 food skills workshops to more than 5,200 people including youth, seniors and people with disabilities.
All together, our programs reached more than 24,000 people each year and we do all of this with only 6 part time staff - relying on the generous support of our volunteers who donated more than 3,600 hours of their time to our projects. It is our volunteers who enable us to accomplish so much with so little. To support them we provide skills training and mentorship opportunities. Once trained, community members from diverse backgrounds deliver intergenerational food skills training, redistribute backyard fruit to vulnerable populations and create personal, shared and community gardens.
The produce we harvest is redistributed and shared four ways: ¼ with 45 social service agencies; ¼ with our volunteers, ¼ with the homeowners who donate their backyards, and ¼ with our Social Enterprise which partially funds our program.
Our Story What We Do
LifeCycles' roots began in 1994 in the soil of an international youth exchange in Santiago, Chile. Together with local organizations we explored and compared issues facing Canadian and Chilean communities, and worked to develop joint projects to enhance the quality of urban community life. Together, we identified a common need to spread awareness about food issues, and to get youth active in the promotion and creation of food gardens in urban areas.
Among LifeCycles' first projects were community gardens tended by youth, whose harvests supplied local soup kitchens. It is from these beginnings that LifeCycles has grown. Our programs have always sought to address systemic and interconnected issues such as urban sustainability, poverty, and health and nutrition by offering practical, accessible and hopeful solutions.
We believe, as we did then, that local action, rooted in community, is the most effective way to affect change. While the maxim "think globally act locally" may seem simplistic, even dated, it is still the best model for social and environmental action. This principle is the cornerstone upon which LifeCycles was founded and is why LifeCycles has attracted so many dedicated and inspired individuals over the years, and continues to endure as one of Victoria's best-loved community organizations. LifeCycles is empowering because it makes sense. It creates possibilities.
Our Programs How We Do It
LifeCycles aims to enhance urban food security, biodiversity and ecosystems through projects that strengthen community connections, feed vulnerable populations and build regional capacity. We accomplish this through three core programs and three community projects:
The Fruit Tree Project connects homeowners with a team of volunteers who care for and pick urban fruit trees. The harvested fruit is then shared among the homeowners, volunteers, local community organizations and our social enterprise.
Growing Schools brings together elementary school youth and intergenerational volunteers to deliver education programs about urban ecosystems through the creation and exploration of school gardens.
Urban Agriculture Program builds community skills and capacity through food skills workshops on garden creation, urban agriculture and food preservation.
The Victoria Seed Library is a project done in partnership with the Greater Victoria Public Library, and is a way for hobby and beginner gardeners to share seeds and other gardening resources year round. This project is gaining nationwide attention as a potential model for seed libraries across Canada!
The Welland Legacy Orchard - LifeCycles has been invited by the municipality of View Royal to create a hands-on learning site at the Welland Legacy Park, home to over 200 heritage fruit trees. Together with the local community, LifeCycles is developing a hands-on education site that re-visions public parks and creates a model for sustainable local food production and community engagement.
The Pollinator Project links LifeCycles’ core programs and amplifies their impact through pollinator habitat and food plants.
The Urban Agriculture Hub is an online tool kit containing our program materials, documents and policies. Our goal is to share our knowledge, resources and experiences so that our successes and lessons learned can benefit organizations and community groups throughout Canada and beyond.
Sharing Backyards connects people who have space to grow food but don't have the time or inclination, to those people who are interested in growing food but do not have access to space.
What You Can Do
Over 18,500 households in Greater Victoria experience food insecurity. Additional financial support would enable LifeCycles to pick more trees, donate more produce, reach a greater number of people and offset the number of households in crisis. The Capital Region has incredible untapped potential to feed vulnerable populations from our urban orchards. With additional funds we could rescue up to 60,000 lbs of fruit annually feeding more than 40,000 people.
One of our biggest needs is an additional vehicle. With a second cube van we could double the number of trees we pick each season. This is a small need with a big impact.