Riders on The Urban Sustainable Food Tour will venture through the city, tasting samples from eateries with local, sustainable food practices while learning about Victoria’s growing urban agriculture movement. Kristyn Anthony/VICTORIA NEWS

Take a ride through Victoria’s growing urban agriculture movement

Bike Tours Victoria, Food Eco District host adventures through city’s sustainable food projects

A Victoria bike tour company has cooked up a new idea, with a little help from local non-profit the Food Eco District, to take riders on an urban sustainable food tour through the city.

Part culinary exploration, part urban agriculture experience, the three-hour sightseeing adventure weaves its way from downtown through Cook Street Village and along the Galloping Goose in Vic West, to showcase the city’s growing food and agriculture movement.

“Everybody has a different definition of local,” says Heidi Grantner, executive director of FED, whose vision is to work with local eateries to plant food, eat local and grow a movement.

“We want to see food that is made in our bio-region [the Pacific Northwest], sourcing as close as possible, what grows naturally here, and in season,” she explains.

In partnership with Bike Tours Victoria, FED is taking riders on a tour that makes stops at Topsoil at Dockside Green, and the upcoming Urban Learning Garden at the Central Branch of the GVPL – two of Victoria’s most innovative urban agriculture projects.

Grantner says the goal is to raise the awareness of growing in an urban setting, both to locals with an interest in good, sustainable food, and to tourists looking to explore the uniqueness of Greater Victoria.

“We’re already very progressive as a region,” she says.

“Victoria has a reputation for being tea and roses and this is to highlight that’s changing, to showcase that we have a growing, green economy.”

She credits local government for taking a good look at food growing policies in the city, and maintaining “a lack of barriers,” to provide a supportive approach.

“They’ve been open, receptive and adaptable to encourage this new model.”

A recent study from the Ministry of Agriculture found that more than 60 per cent of British Columbians are buying food locally – from farmers markets or specialty stores. The study also found that residents across the province would be more inclined to buy B.C. products if they were clearly labelled “From B.C.”

Small-scale farming is really hard work and good food costs money, because you need to be able to demonstrate that increase in value to the consumer, Grantner says.

Part of FED’s work includes partnering with restaurants like Big Wheel Burger on Cook Street to grow their herbs on site.

“When you buy from these local businesses that are working so hard to provide this amazing food, you’re supporting a whole shift in the economy to get away from things like processed food.”

Tours are slated for May 30, June 27, July 11 and July 25 – they include the cost of a bike rental, snacks and samples. You can register online at BikeToursVictoria.com.

kristyn.anthony@vicnews.com

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