Royal Roads University’s farm is set to grow larger than ever before thanks to a nearly $200,000 donation.
On Tuesday (May 30), representatives from the TD Bank Group joined school officials and local dignitaries at the school’s historic walled garden to announce $196,000 in funding and talk about what it will mean for the project, which aims to help tackle food insecurity on the West Shore.
“With support from TD, our efforts to address food security, climate adaptation and reconciliation on the farm will help us transform the space and become home to an expanded, diverse, community-based resource in the years to come,” said school president Philip Steenkamp.
The garden, which was once the kitchen garden for the nearly century-old Dunsmuir estate, was first planted in April 2022. On Tuesday, the school announced the 5.26-acre plot’s – dubbed the Giving Garden – inaugural growing season reaped more than 1,000 pounds of fresh vegetables.
The produce was distributed to food-insecure seniors, single parents, newcomers and on campus through a community fridge for students.
Beyond producing food for the community, the garden serves as a learning and research space for faculty and students, providing hands-on learning in agriculture, climate adaptation and Indigenous practices. It is maintained by volunteers from the school and wider communities through biweekly lunch sessions on Tuesdays and Thursdays, according to a news release.
“The opportunity to learn wise practices and try new ways of growing food … is invaluable to have first-hand experience with,” said Nancy Prevost-Maurice, a masters student in the school’s Arts and Climate Action Leadership program. “It’s been a life-changing experience.”
With the donation from TD, the school plans on embarking on an expansion project this year, which will see the Giving Garden expanded, along with the establishment of the Market Garden, which will sell produce to partners and the public through a campus farm stand. Revenues will be reinvested into the farm space.
Other expansion plans for the school farm include establishing the Indigenous Medicine Garden and the Polyculture Orchard. Overall, the school aims to double the number of trees and amount of biodiversity in the area over the next two years.
“We’re so proud to help The Farm at Royal Roads University with their critical work,” said Bruce Gray, Vancouver Island district vice-president at TD. “Through the TD Ready Commitment, our corporate citizen platform, we’re supporting organizations focused on enhancing and activating green spaces which help build stronger, more resilient communities.”
The announcement also served as the launch of the school’s annual A Vision in Bloom fundraising campaign, which seeks donations to support the development of the campus gardens, including the restoration of the school’s Japanese Gardens and the construction of a traditional Japanese teahouse on the grounds.
Donations are being accepted online at www.rruinbloom.ca.