LUSH Valley Food Action Society will be closing the facility at 1126 Piercy Avenue in Courtenay on September 30, 2015.
Dear LUSH & community members,
It is with sadness that we announce the closing of our facility at 1126 Piercy Avenue. We recognize that many volunteers have donated time, energy, and materials to make this facility a social centre and meeting place for individuals and community groups, and we are grateful for those contributions. We realize this move may cause some inconveniences. It was not a decision that was made lightly.
Unfortunately, persistent problems with our facility have been disrupting our programs and creating uncertainty for our clients. In the last year we have been repeatedly closed by the Health Authority and forced to devote limited resources to addressing multiple problems. Resolving these issues requires significant time and capital investment far beyond our capacity. We feel it is better to direct our resources toward outreach, programs, education, and advocacy.
In spite of making the difficult decision to close the facility and become a ‘virtual office,’ LUSH will still offer most of our programs. We will now have a wider presence in our community and reach more people in more locations. This delivery model will enable us to allocate more resources to our programs to ensure:
· Individuals, groups and organizations have greater access to food- related programs throughout the region
· Food security is integrated into civic planning
· There is increased support for community gardens and backyard food production
· There is growth and development of local food production & local agriculture
What does this mean for our current programming?
Fruit Tree Program
The Fruit Tree Program will continue to operate at full scale this season and in the future. This year we have already exceeded our picking and redistribution targets, and the season is only half way through. When the facility closes at the end of September, produce harvested through the Fruit Tree Program will be distributed directly to local organizations instead of being stored at the LUSH Valley building.
Food Programs, including Young Cooks and Community Kitchens
We have a lot planned for 2015-16. With the support of our partners, LUSH will continue to provide food skills and food literacy activities. Beginning September 29, LUSH will offer its first Young Cooks afterschool program in partnership with Lake Trail Neighborhood Connections. LUSH Valley is also collaborating with the City of Courtenay and the LINC to offer food skills workshops and to support the LINC’s Free Food Frenzy. Look for program descriptions in the Comox Valley Winter Recreation Reporter. LUSH is also planning community kitchen workshops in community throughout the region this fall and winter.
Unfortunately, the incubator kitchen at 1126 Piercy Avenue will be closing on September 18th, 2015. This was a very difficult decision because there is great need in the Comox Valley for a kitchen that supports small-scale food processors as they grow and develop. Retail and wholesale food businesses are a vital part of our local economy and contribute to the diversity of the Comox Valley. Aiding their growth remains a priority at LUSH Valley, and we are actively searching for partners to develop this facility and capacity. Please contact us with ideas to advance this vision.
Share the Harvest Community Garden
The management and operation of the community garden on 6th St. and Harmston will not be affected. This year we have seen tremendous community support at the garden with the construction of an accessible gardening space. Stay tuned for upcoming fall and spring programming.
Sharing the Seeds of Knowledge Workshops
Sharing the Seeds of Knowledge is a new series of workshops led by local Elders to preserve and pass on traditional/local food knowledge through story telling, sharing meals, cooking, nature walks/foraging, and other food-related activities for youth, while strengthening inter-generational bonds within the community. These workshops will be held at differing locations in the community throughout the fall.
LUSH will continue to act as a food security leader in the Comox Valley. We remain an Island Health Food Security Hub and a Good Food Organization. There are many other new and exciting ideas in the works to grow our activities. As always we welcome suggestions and volunteers!
How can we be contacted?
Until further notice, LUSH Valley administrative operations will be conducted remotely. We will be present at community gathering spots, community events, the Share the Harvest Community Garden, and online. We can be contacted by these means:
Thank you to everyone in the Comox Valley for all of your support! We know this transition will keep LUSH viable and healthy so we can work toward a just food system for all.