By Tim Collins
If you’ve think you’ve noticed a distinct similarity between the wooden planters outside some of downtown Victoria’s restaurants, you’re right.
It’s all a part of an environmental initiative by a Victoria non-profit organization named Food Eco District (FED), an organization dedicated to reducing the impact of restaurants on the environment.
The organization was the brainchild of a group of three restauranteurs and some interested volunteers who were passionate about sustainability within the restaurant industry. By developing and adhering to checklists of actions and initiatives, including the use of compostable utensils, the sustainable disposal of fat and oil as a bio-fuel, and even simple items like high-efficiency water heaters, restaurants are able to reduce their environmental impact on the community, while providing fresh and products to customers.
The FED district is bounded by Johnson, Broughton, and Douglas streets, but Heidi Grantner, FED project coordinator, said the concept has grown beyond the initial boundaries and the organization now recognizes several satellite restaurants outside the FED boundaries.
“When we started the FED in 2015 we had 10 members, but the idea has really gained traction and our number keeps growing,” said Grantner. “We’re at 18 now and our goal is to have every restaurant within our district sign on and from there it may continue to grow.”
Speaking of growing, let’s get back to those planters.
“The planters, yes,” said Grantner with a chuckle. “They’ve attracted a lot of attention.”
FED has partnered with a Vancouver firm called LifeSpace Gardens who produce unique self-watering planters so restaurants are able to grow some of the fresh food on their menus. As well, the planters allow customers to see the menu ingredients growing right there and know they’re as fresh as it gets.
Every restaurant plants the ingredients they need for their particular menu. Foo, for example, plants lemon grass while Big Wheel Burger plants kale and chives.”
Grantner said the planters provide an easily recognizable signal to passersby that the restaurants behind the fresh produce on the doorstep have joined the FED environmental initiative. Those restaurants also sport the FED logo on their doors, and provide information on their environmental initiative to guests.
The number of planters will be increasing in the near future, said Grantner, as more restaurants come on board and existing FED establishments expand their growing program.
The group plans to host a party in August at the Fort Common courtyard. The event will include food, drinks and music and it will give the public a chance to taste some of the great food from FED restaurants, said Grantner.
A full listing of the participating restaurants, more information of the environmental initiatives taken by each of the member establishments, and details of the FED annual summer party can all be found at get-fed.ca.