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Vancity enviro ™ Visa provides $1 million to help build a sustainable local food system

Vancity enviro ™ Visa provides $1 million to help build a sustainable local food system

August 13, 2012

Vancouver, British Columbia. Vancity enviro ™Visa* cardholders helped raise $1 million in grants this year by using their Visa credit cards for daily transactions. In keeping with the credit union’s philosophy to serve its members long-term well-being by building sustainable communities, this year’s grants support a range of environmental initiatives focused on creating a sustainable food system.

Every year, a portion of Vancity enviro™ Visa’s profits is distributed back to the local community through the Vancity enviroFund™. So far this year, $250,000 has been distributed in grants to support 21 farmers’ markets throughout British Columbia. The remaining $750,000 will fund 12 organizations and a variety of projects that provide British Columbians with greater access to local and organic food.

“We would like to thank our cardholders for working with us to help grow and promote a viable and sustainable local food system and for supporting environmental initiatives we can all benefit from,” says Jean-Marc Handfield, Vice President Payment Solutions and Member Services Centre. “We believe our enviro ™Visa card is an innovative product because as our members spend on the card, they are actually helping to bring local and organic food to their communities in a variety of ways.”

Tara McDonald, Executive Director, Your Local Farmers Market Society says, “It’s incredibly important to have the funding from Vancity to support initiatives associated with the environment and local organic food. These particular grants are important because they provide financial assistance to a broad range of initiatives including urban farming, farmers markets and farm-to-school programs. As one of the recipients, we know that by working together we can continue to grow viable and sustainable food that supports not only our organizations but our families’ well-being and the environment.”

Vancity is committed to serving members needs and being innovative with their products. For example, enviro™Visa cardholders with rewards can redeem their points to:

  • donate funds to their favorite charity
  • achieve their financial goals sooner by topping up their savings and investments or paying down their mortgage, loans and Visa balance
  • Or, choose from a wide range of travel or merchandise rewards

The enviroFund™ has distributed a total of $4.7 million since its inception in 1990, to support organizations that make an impact, by helping to address local environmental concerns.

About Vancity
At Vancity we make you good money by putting money to good. Our vision of redefining wealth incorporates personal and community well-being. We have distributed $221 million to members through dividends and to communities through grants and community investment initiatives since 1994. We are a member of the Global Alliance for Banking on Values—a network of the world’s leading sustainable banks sharing the commitment to achieving triple-bottom-line impact through responsible banking practices. We are A Living Wage employer and Canada’s largest community credit union, with $16.1 billion in assets, more than 479,500 members and 59 branches throughout Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, Victoria and Squamish.

Vancity enviro ™Visa Grant Recipients Backgrounder
Environmental Youth Alliance Society - Copley Community Orchard - Vancouver ($35,000)
The Environmental Youth Alliance engages local residents, businesses, and schools in perennial food production through its new, 1.2 acre Copley Community Orchard. Unlike a typical community garden allotment, larger communal tree and shrub plantings will be tended collectively. Approximately 200 new fruit trees and over 250 fruiting shrubs and vines will be planted, with on-site educational courses and workshops planned in 2013.

FarmFolk CityFolk Society - Helping Farmers - Vancouver ($60,000)
The Helping Farmers project will support shared farming on shared land, foster relationships between farmers and buyers, aid farmers in developing farm plans to guide their businesses, bring established and new farmers together to share experiences and ideas, and build a community farmers network to provide support and tools necessary to increase local food production.

Fresh Roots Urban Farm Society - Schoolyard Market Gardens - Vancouver ( $50,000)
Fresh Roots Urban Farm Society’s Schoolyard Market Gardens project will develop two, one quarter acre schoolyard market gardens at VanTech Secondary and David Thompson Secondary that will be used for food production and as outdoor, hands-on learning classrooms; engaging school communities and residents of Vancouver. These gardens will host workshops, volunteer opportunities and a young farmer-training program.

North Shore Neighborhood House - Loutet Farm – Edible Garden - North Vancouver ( $70,000)
Loutet Farm is the first urban farm on public parkland in the region and the only urban farm on the North Shore.  With hands-on education and financial viability at its core, Loutet Farm project supports environmental, community and economic health while also being a regional model of innovative land use.

Pacific Coast Wild Salmon Society - Salmon Disease Awareness and Response Network - Salish Sea, Fraser River ($64,000)
Pacific Coast Wild Salmon Society’s focus is to ensure the viability of wild salmon as a food resource. The society is developing a program to link together the groups working to monitor salmon health and restore wild salmon populations, including First Nations, university departments and labs. Educating and engaging the public in their work will be an important part of this project.

Public Health Association of BC - Farm to School: Expanding our Roots - Metro Vancouver ($75,000)
The grant received by The Public Health Association of British Columbia will be used to strengthen and expand Farm to School - an initiative designed to bring fresh, healthy, and sustainably produced foods from nearby farms into Greater Vancouver schools. The funds will be used to support existing programs, to inspire new programs, and to explore the feasibility of a district-wide program. It will also support local food skills training, including a teen “localvore” cook-off event.

The Sharing Farm Society - Sustainable Food System Centre - Richmond ($75,000)
The Sharing Farm Society’s Sustainable Food System Centre project includes expansion and renovation of existing buildings to create a hub for resources, education and facilities for urban farmers and the community. These improvements will increase the ability of The Sharing Farm to support the food bank, community kitchens, school food gardens and emerging farmers.

Vancouver Native Health Society - Urban Aboriginal Community Kitchen/Garden - Vancouver ($75,000)
The project team for the Vancouver Native Health Society – Urban Aboriginal Garden/Kitchen project will bring Aboriginal youth, children and families together with Elders and community experts to revitalize and share relevant knowledge, values and wisdom as it relates to growing, harvesting, fishing, preparing and preserving cultural foods. The project will build on efforts of previous participants by organizing the time, space and resources to build an Indigenous Food Share Network in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver.

Vancouver Urban Farming Society - Best Practices for Urban Farming in Vancouver ($45,000)
The Vancouver Urban Farming Society is researching management best-practice for urban agriculture within the City of Vancouver and developing a code of best practice for Vancouver's growing number of urban farmers. This shared knowledge can provide a way for urban farmers to proactively and continually address common challenges and concerns, such as, growing and business practices, community engagement, health and safety, and other issues to help ensure the quality of locally-grown produce.

Your Local Farmer’s Market Society (Vancouver Farmer’s Market) - New City Market:
Phase 2 - Metro Vancouver ($67,000)
Vancouver Farmer’s Markets is a leading partner in the development of a permanent local food hub for the City of Vancouver called New City Market (NCM) featuring a year-round farmer’s market and a commercial kitchen for small scale local producers. The permanent infrastructure of NCM will increase long-term capacity and revenues for the local food economy by allowing local growers to pool their produce and provide it to larger suppliers like food retailers, in addition to sales to the general public, Vancouver's institutions, community groups and restaurants.

Victoria Downtown Public Market Society - The Public Market and Community Kitchen - Victoria ($59,000)
The Victoria Downtown Public Market project aims to create a meeting place to introduce consumers to local farmers, food producers and businesses and to expand the number of local food consumers through education and public outreach. The centerpiece of the Market will be its Community Kitchen, a place for vendor product preparation, food and cooking demonstrations, lectures and seminars, courses in cooking and sustainable living, and a place for families to gather.

Community Social Planning Council – Capital Region Food & Agriculture Initiatives Roundtable (CRFAIR) - Growing New Farmers: Access to land - Victoria ($75,000)
New farmers face significant challenges related to the high cost of land in the region and access to mentorship and training. The Growing New Farmers: Access to Land and Mentorship project is a comprehensive program that will bring local organizations together to support farmers to access land, training and farm business advice to ensure we have a successful new generation of farmers. The initiative will also work towards the creation of a regional farmland trust to ensure land will be permanently accessible to farmers into the future; building the foundation for a vibrant local food economy.