Food Recovery Project – January to October 2018

The Cowichan Green Community has received funding from the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction to initiate a food recovery project.

With the assistance of 4 participants, this project will establish a food recovery system to reclaim unwanted and destined for the landfill food and into a variety of other more sustainable streams including re-distribution, processing, compost and animal feed.

Through the development of a strong community network of food producers, social media and innovation, this project aims to broadcast the availability and location of edible food so that it may be shared with those in need within the local community.

For more information, or if you are interested in helping provide equipment, resources or your time, please contact Nathan the project supervisor at or contact us directly at the Cowichan Green Community at 250-748-8506.

Thank You.










Project Milestones

The Cowichan Food Recovery Project is making great progress!

  • The team had the chance to visit several examples of food recovery projects on Vancouver Island and on the lower-mainland. So much was learned and many collaborative partnerships were formed as a result with the amazing folks at The Mustard Seed in Victoria, Parksville Food Bank, Loaves & Fishes in Nanaimo, and The Harvest Project in North Van.
  • While on the mainland the team also had the chance to tour the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel in Vancouver, who prides itself in being a zero-waste facility. Here the team had a chance to learn more about how the food service industry can work towards eliminating food waste.
  • The Cowichan Valley Regional District Grants in Aid has generously donated $40,000 for a vehicle that will be used to transport product to and from the distribution centre.
    • Keep your eyes peeled on our website and social media for more news on this very soon!
  • On February 8th Fisher Road Recycling kindly offered the team a tour of their waste management and recycling facility. We were astonished to see the amount of perfect produce being thrown away by grocery retailers. Fisher Road liked our project so much that they signed an agreement with us to accept any organic waste that we cannot divert to other streams.
  • The lovely CGC supporter, Sandy McPherson, donated $10,000 for the Food Recovery Project. Thank you, Sandy!
    • We challenge you residents of our beautiful valley and beyond, to match this generous donation with one of your own. Please help us – in-kind or cash – to divert to people, animals or compost – all the food currently going to the landfill. No one need go hungry.
  • The project has been busy in CGCs commercial kitchen creating and experimenting with a series of value added products as a stepping stone to creating a self-sustaining social enterprise.
  • We attended the Vancouver Island Homesteading Fair in Cobble Hill on May 5th & 6th. Nathan gave a wonderful presentation on the project and the team connected with community members, local farmers, homesteading enthusiasts, and all sorts of wonderful folks.
  • We have been busy connecting with all of the great people and organizations in the Cowichan region who offer food related programming. From food banks to soup kitchens, day-cares to juice companies, and everywhere in between we are partnering with everyone who could use some extra fresh fruits and veggies to stretch their food budgets.
  • We have been spending time at the Cowichan Valley Basket Society visiting with staff and folks making use of the space and services provided. Through our conversations we are gaining more information on how we can be most impactful with our actions to help ensure everyone has increased access to healthy food options.
  • On the evening of May 29th Cowichan Green Community held their Annual General Meeting in combination with the 7th annual Cowichan Eat Local Challenge & Potluck. The Food Recovery team attended, cooked up several potluck items containing recovered foods, and were honoured to be invited to speak as the night’s special guest presenters.
  • We have just secured a new distribution centre at Hope Farms Healing Centre! This space is owned and managed by the Mustard Seed (who are operating an amazing food recovery project in Victoria, BC) and was previously utilized by them as a distribution centre for Food Banks of BC. It is already well set up for us with large walk-in coolers and freezers and plenty of space for shelving, storage, and sorting.
  • Talks are currently underway with two large grocery retailers in the Cowichan region to begin accepting their surplus, potentially wasted, produce items. We intend to start a pilot project as soon as we sign an agreement. Our plan is to start small, work out the kinks, have everything running smoothly, and launch full bore by October.
  • We are busy planning a cask night fundraiser on August 9th with the Red Arrow Brewing Company. Red Arrow is utilizing some of the less than perfect fruit and brewing them up into a flavourful and refreshing beer for us all to sample alongside some entertainment, prize giveaways, and of course delicious snacks prepared with recovered food items. Tickets are on sale now at the Cowichan Green Community Office, Red Arrow Brewing, and online through Eventbrite.


Meet the Team

reFRESH Cowichan is Nathan Harben, Nancy Rizk, Marcia Forst, Nanita Nair, and John Stewart.

With a background in marine biology, Nathan originally set out to work solely within marine conservation but since moving to the island 5 years ago, he has developed a new passion for sustainable farming and the Cowichan region. He now owns and runs ‘Local Forage Farm’ in Glenora that focusses on ethically raised animals and an abundance of fruit and vegetables. He has also networked within the community and worked at a number of local farming businesses including Averill Creek Vineyards, Evening Cove Oysters, The Happy Goat Cheese Company, to name a few. Nathan’s new position within the food recovery team aligns his need to connect with community and move towards a more secure and sustainable food system.

Nancy enjoys preparing tasty, healthy food and serving it in an attractive way.  Her background is in administration and management and she has coordinated various projects in the Cowichan Valley.  These skills have been used to bring food and people together. The previous projects expanded her talents to include organizing volunteers and encouraging them to develop their own sense of helping their community.   Along with related academic studies, her experience has opened her eyes to those in need in relation to the vast amounts of available, yet currently inaccessible quality food.

Marcia is a recent addition to the Cowichan Region, having come from the lovely Sunshine Coast.  Marcia is a passionate gardener and cook who at one time owned an award winning restaurant that served organic produce from their 18,000 square foot garden.  Having grown up in a community that canned, froze and foraged, she is delighted to have the opportunity to contribute to food security in this community.

Since completing her Bachelors in Business from Royal Roads University, Nanita has moved back to the Cowichan Valley and onto a hobby farm with her family. She owns a small business, working with local farmers promoting the purchase and consumption of locally grown and prepared meals. Nanita has joined the team to raise awareness for and limit the amount of food waste in our beautiful community.

New to the Cowichan Region, John grew up on the shores and amongst the forests that surround Lac La Ronge in Northern Saskatchewan. For the past five years John coordinated a variety of programming with a charitable organization, aiming to improve the state of Food Security in core neighbourhoods of Saskatoon. He managed a one-of-a-kind, land-based urban agricultural internship for First Nations & Metis youth. Incorporating cultural learnings and works to explore traditional food systems in the context of the current, industrialized food system was John’s focus for the past two seasons. Excited to be part of CGC, he brings his passion, education, and experience to this project.

For more information or to donate, please contact us via our website address: or send an email to any one of us on the team:
nanita, nancy, john, nathan or


Project News

  • New Horizons – Farming Connections

    Farming Connections     Farming Connections is a new initiative of Cowichan Green Community in partnership with the Government of Canada’s New Horizons for Seniors Program that focuses on bringing farmers out of the isolating lifestyle that f …

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Upcoming Events

    • New Horizons- Free workshops

      Tuesday, January 8, 2019 - Tuesday, January 29, 2019
      Join the Cowichan Green Community in partnership with the Government of Canada's New Horizons for Seniors Program for the following FREE workshops! Employee Stock Ownership Plan facilitated by Jeremy Smyth of for a talk on how to sell/buy a...
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