Zero food waste project nets $1,500 for projects

Cittaslow Cowichan Bay-Area D embarked on a zero food waste project last spring, to raise awareness of the global issue.

Susan Stitt Special to the Citizen

Cittaslow Cowichan Bay-Area D embarked on a zero food waste project last spring, to raise awareness of the global issue.

There was also a fundraising aspect to the project, and with its completion, Cittaslow donated $1,500 towards projects of environmental stewardship, heritage protection, and community. All three are major principles of the Cittaslow Charter.

Of the total, $500 was presented to the Maritime Centre’s pier reconstruction project.

“These funds will be used to replace the 1950s and earlier, creosote-treated wood pilings with steel pilings providing an enhanced water quality in the Cowichan Estuary,” said Lew Penney, director of the Centre. “Total reconstruction of the pier is estimated at $500,000.”

Another $500 was presented for trails within the area — $200 towards the trail at Bench Elementary School, and $300 towards the Wilmot Trail.

“This money will go towards the extension and completion of the Wilmot Rd off- road walking trail, connecting Crossroads at Koksilah Road to Cowichan Bay Village,” said Kerrie Talbot, chairwoman of the Area D parks commission.

A third cheque for $500 was received by Lori Iannidinardo on behalf of the Cowichan Land Trust, for the purchase of buoys for the safe navigation channel in the bay, which in turn, directs boat traffic away from eelgrass habitat. Eelgrass is a key player in the marine food web.

“This donation is fabulous,” said Iannidinardo. “The channel is something we’ve worked on for the last five years.”

The zero waste project began on a farm.

“We chose to raise a pig to highlight the issue of food waste,” said Deborah Fahlman, president of Cittaslow. “It was pasture-raised and fed unsold produce from farms, produce vendors, a local school and backyard gardeners. The food waste issue continued to spread with purchases of the pork by local chefs in the Cowichan Valley. Chef Frederic Desbiens of Saison Market Vineyards, Fatima de Silva, of Vinoteca Restaurant and Steve Pope at Unsworth Restaurant all added the pork to menus.

“And we did more than raise the pig and awareness, Fahlman said. “We learned through sourcing its food that Cowichan Bay and its immediate surrounds were already on the road to zero food waste. Individuals are composting for their own gardens. Bakeries and other food shops are already providing excess foodstuffs to the food bank and other community food projects. Local produce vendors have produce-for-farm-animal systems already in place. Others feed their extra produce to backyard chickens or their own goats or sheep.”

“We’re delighted to support our community and ‘preserve the slow,’” said Fahlman. “The project was a great success.”