Food Production & The Environment

Farmers in all regions of the world struggle with many environmental issues:  

  • Soil health, including nutrient depletion and soil contamination
  • Soil erosion
  • Water sources
  • Drought
  • Flooding
  • Service availability, including storage and processing facilities

In Saanich, we address these issues with strategies and policies to support local food production: 

  • Manage waste and livestock to reduce impacts on watersheds
  • Protect and restore natural water courses to control flooding
  • Control and remove invasive species

Saanich works with many other groups and government bodies to develop long-term plans for improving local and regional food security:

  • Capital Regional District
  • Capital Region Food and Agriculture Initiatives Roundtable
  • Other municipalities
  • Province of B.C.
  • Food producers
  • Vancouver Island Health Authority
  • Other stakeholders 

Support efforts of farm operators and other agencies to enhance farmland and increase crop yield, by improving water supply and undertaking drainage improvements and improving soil capabilities, while considering environmental impact.

Encourage environmentally sound agricultural practices by promoting the BC Environmental Farm Program Local Initiatives

Encourage the development of a Property Assessment policy that primarily supports local food production, and does not inadvertently result in ecological degradation

~Saanich Official Community Plan

Two Saanich Environmental Awards go to food producers

Our awards recognize people and organizations that make a positive contribution to the natural environment. 

In 2011, Robin Tunnicliffe, co-owner of Saanich Organics, received an award for her efforts in sustainable food production and food access within our community.

Saanich also recognized Ray and Judy Galey, owners of Galey Farms, for their efforts in Garry Oak Ecosystem conservation on their farmland. 

In 2001, Galey Farms, with support from Swan Lake and Saanich, hired Aqua-Tex Scientific Consulting Ltd. to restore a section of upper Blenkinsop Creek. This project won the 2002 FCM-CH2M Hill Environmental Award, the top ecological award in Canada. The streamside restoration greatly benefitted the natural habitat. It also shows agriculture producers working with the land and ecosystem to improve water quality, resource management and integrated pest management. Visit Galey Farms for more information.

Haliburton Farms Biodiversity Project

Haliburton Farm is a municipally owned property run by small scale organic farmers. They work to grow agricultural products in a way that will maintain and restore ecosystem health. In 2007, University of Victoria School of Environmental Studies volunteers started an Urban Biodiversity Project at Haliburton. They got busy building and installing bird boxes, bat boxes, mason bee boxes, salamander boards and snake cairns. They also restored the wetland on the farm with volunteer help from many groups:

  • Victoria Natural History Society
  • Habitat Conservation Trust
  • TD Friends of the Environment
  • District of Saanich
  • Land Conservancy
  • Copley Brothers Construction
  • BC Ministry of the Environment

Provincial Government Initiatives

Canada – BC Environmental Farm Plan Program

The Environmental Farm Planning Program aims to help producers develop an environmental action plan for their farm. The program works to enhance our natural resources and reduce accidental harm to soil, air, water and biodiversity values. 

This and the Beneficial Management Practices Programs get joint funding from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, B.C. Ministry of Agriculture and ARDCorp.

ARDCorp BC Agricultural Research & Development Corporation

Delivers programs and services to B.C.'s primary agriculture industry. See the Province's Environmental Farm Plan program overview.

An ARDCorp report, "Chronicles from BC Producers [PDF - 902 KB]", explains the program as follows:

“Environmental farm planning is a no charge, confidential, voluntary process available to producers to identify both environmental strengths and potential risks on their farms.

Completing an EFP will provide farmers and ranchers with an understanding of agriculturally related environmental regulations and of farm management practices that enhance environmental values. In many cases the outcome of improved water and nutrient management will also be profitable. Protecting riparian areas can improve water quality as well as enhancing fish and wildlife habitat. A decision to do an EFP will bring positive recognition to individual producers and the industry.”

BC Ministry of Agriculture

The BC Ministry of Agriculture provides guides and factsheets on many environmentally sensitive agricultural management practices as well as a Riparian Health Factsheet [PDF - 255 KB] and Contingency Plan - Template for On-Farm Planning.

Watershed Stewardship Guide for Agriculture [PDF - 2.5 MB] is a joint provincial and federal guide. This document shows the role stewardship plays to protect aquatic resources. It also explains how agriculture can benefit from good environmental stewardship. Working in or near a stream? Find the approvals you’ll need here too.