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Salish Seas Regenerative Farm Society plans expansion

Boosting biodiversity and food security on the Sunshine Coast with regenerative farming

Salish Seas Regenerative Farm Society is expanding to a six-acre urban farm, with thanks to a grant secured earlier this year and a recent investment from Island Coastal Economic Trust (ICET).

In May, the farm society received a  $845,361 Rural Economic Diversification and Infrastructure Program (REDIP) grant meant to help the society reach its goal of creating a six-acre “model urban farm utilizing organic compost and the principles of regenerative agriculture to restore local ecosystems and cultivate local healthy food on the Sunshine Coast.”

Created by the Ministry of Jobs, Economic Development and Innovation (JEDI), the program supports projects that promote economic diversification, resilience, clean growth opportunities and infrastructure development. 

In June, it was announced the farm society also received a $50,000 investment from ICET, which will be used to create two full-time jobs as well as seasonal positions and contract opportunities throughout the community, stated a release. 

One of the farm society’s goals is to increase local food production, which in turn creates food security on the Coast, stated a June news release. 

“This grant is a remarkable milestone for the Salish Sea Regenerative Farm Society. It empowers us to expand our farm and deepen our commitment to a resilient food system on the Sunshine Coast,” said Aaron Joe, SFF Chair in the release. 

Phil Ragan, co-chair of the society, described the farm as a “world-class composting facility.”  

He said regenerative agriculture is a pushback against industrial agriculture, which uses fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides and other chemicals. 

The farm society has four key outcomes.

  • Food production and security: The farm focuses on producing mixed vegetables and provides food to Sechelt Hospital, shíshálh Nation, One Straw Society and the Sechelt Food Bank.
  • Reconciliation: Salish Seas Regenerative Farm Society represents collaborative reconciliation in their actions, through land use and agricultural practices, they honour traditional knowledge and land rights. 
  • Education: The society aims to pass on knowledge about regenerative agriculture, sustainable food systems and environmental stewardship to community members. The society also aims to provide hands-on learning and employment opportunities to 15 Indigenous youth each summer.
  • Infrastructure construction: Planned expansions include upgraded water and irrigation systems, a greenhouse, cold storage and processing facilities, tractors and establishing crop protection measures. 

The expansion began in May and is expected to be completed by November 2025.

Ragan said there is “a real good synergy” between the farm society and Sechelt Hospital. He said on top of providing crops from the farm, the hospital patients are also invited to walk around the farm and help out. 

The June release highlighted the farm society’s partnership with shíshálh Nation, “to blend regenerative agriculture practices with shíshálh First Nation traditional ecological knowledge. The society hopes the project becomes an important step to helping the shíshálh First Nation reclaim its vital food sovereignty.”

Ragan said Vancouver Coastal Health has offered to buy their crops if they duplicate their regenerative farm system near any of their other hospitals throughout B.C.  

Speaking to the importance of urban regeneration, Ragan explained the farm society is committed to demonstrating their farming model and reporting on it so that it’s available to any community that wants to use it as a basis for their regenerative agriculture.  

Ragan said anyone who comes onto the site becomes an advocate, and added several members of the community stepped forward, offering their expertise or their equipment which made a monumental difference in getting the farming society started and supporting its growth. 

"The Salish Seas Regenerative Urban Farm represents a great step forward to building a more resilient and self-sustaining local food system,” Nicholas Simons, MLA for Powell River – Sunshine Coast said in the release. “By combining regenerative agriculture practices with Indigenous knowledge and community partnerships, this project will push a positive change for both our environment and our community.”

Jordan Copp is the Coast Reporter’s civic and Indigenous affairs reporter. This reporting beat is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.