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Victoria Truth Centre hopes to grow transformative justice in Langford

Purchase proposal would see offenders, survivors and families work on organic vegetable farm
Victoria Truth Centre and Long-term Inmates Now in the Community (L.I.N.C.) Society are hoping to replicate in Langford the format used on Emma’s Farm in Mission, pictured here. (Patrick Penner/Black Press Media)

A local church wants to establish an organic vegetable farm in Langford that would double as a centre for transformative justice. It’s a land-use solution they say would be a win-win for the community, contributing to food security and social justice.

Victoria Truth Centre, a non-denominational church, submitted a proposal to buy 960 Latoria Rd. from Langford for over $1 million. It would then lease the land to a charity that’s been running a similar farm for eight years in Mission, B.C.

Long-term Inmates Now in the Community (L.I.N.C.) Society was founded by Glen Flett 30 years ago while he was on parole and serving a life sentence. He wanted to help inmates develop meaningful lives outside prison, break the cycle of criminality and give back to victims of crime.

The society has grown and the Fraser Valley farm, Emma’s Acres — named for Emma Smiley, who founded Victoria Truth Centre and supported Flett when he was at his worst — provides work and volunteer opportunities for offenders, survivors and victims’ families.

The heart of the society is the belief that offenders need to make restitution for their crime, that they need to give back to society. Growing healthy, nourishing food is one way to do that.

“When survivors order produce that offenders have grown and harvested, we like to say we are transforming justice, one squash at a time,” they wrote in the proposal.

RELATED: Mission volunteers help keep prisoner-run farm alive during pandemic

Langford issued a request for proposals to sell 960 Latoria Rd. after failing three times to have it removed from the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR). The proposal window closed June 11.

Linda Cain, president of the Victoria Truth Centre board, said growing local organic vegetables and providing meaningful work for offenders is a win-win for Langford. The Mission farm has reduced the likelihood of a person returning to prison to five per cent, compared to 23 per cent for the general population.

Victoria Truth Centre offered roughly $1.020 million for the land, which has an assessed value of $926,000. Cain hopes Langford will choose their proposal, but has no idea whether there’s a chance to negotiate or discuss options.

L.I.N.C. has $203,000 in federal grant money secured to build greenhouses. It also has a working relationship with Corrections Canada to facilitate day trips, which would allow approved inmates to volunteer at the farm under supervision.

Langford and the Sooke School District previously tried to build a school on the land, offering to swap another plot into the ALR, but that application was rejected.

RELATED: Langford, SD62 partner for land swap deal

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