Seabird Island has developed an integrated waste management strategy to recycle organic waste and create healthy soils for sustainable local food production. There are eight objectives in this strategy:
1. recycling and composting food scraps and other organic material from their own community
2. receiving and composting food scraps and organic material from neighbouring communities
3. recover heat energy from the composting process to heat a greenhouse or for other purposes
4. utilizing the compost on their 700 + ha of agricultural land to create healthy soil
5. developing a sustainable agriculture plan focusing on soil health and biodiversity to reduce dependence on chemicals and pesticides
6. producing local healthy food for their own community as well as for their neighbours
7. create jobs and sustainable economic development
8. teach others through the local colleges
Seabird Island is a First Nations community that is one hour east of Vancouver along the Fraser River. Seabird Island has more than 1500 ha of land, with more than 50% of it being actively farmed. Seabird Island is home to the annual Seabird Island festival, the tulip festival, and is an exceptional fishing area.
This strategy for waste management is a holistic approach that is in keeping with their principles and sacred teachings.
“Our vision for the future is informed by a long cultural tradition of living in balance with the land. It is inspired by our love for our children, grandchildren and the generations yet to come. And it is guided by our people, here today, working to create families and a community that reflects the deeply held values of our society.” Managing our Waste: A strategy for Solid Waste Management on Seabird Island April 2009
This strategy is timely for a number of reasons.
1. Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley is needs to find a home for all of the valuable plant nutrients and organic matter that will be collected in the expanding food scrap recycling program. For example, see: http://www.vancouversun.com/Vancouver+food+scraps+program+goes+city+wide/7226632/story.html
2. There is increased concern with odor coming from organic waste recycling facilities in the Fraser Valley. For example, see: http://www.vancourier.com/Odour+from+Richmond+compost+company+wafting+into+Vancouver/7123661/story.html
3. There is increased interest in local healthy food production. For example, see: http://www.metrovancouver.org/planning/development/AgricultureAndFood/Documents/RegionalFoodSystemStrategy.pdf
Seabird Island is excited to be a part of recycling our excess nutrients and organic matter in an environmentally and socially acceptable manner, and using this to produce local foods with less dependence on chemicals and pesticides. I am honored to be a part of this process.