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'Food eco district' a first for Canada

John Oughtred, owner of Oughtred Coffee, and Food Eco District Restuarant Society director Jill Doucette show off the herb garden, the first project in turning a set of downtown blocks into Canada
John Oughtred, owner of Oughtred Coffee, and Food Eco District Restuarant Society director Jill Doucette show off the herb garden, the first project in turning a set of downtown blocks into Canada's first 'food eco district.'
— image credit: Drew McLachlan/News staff

Victoria could soon see its own “food eco district,” the first of its kind in Canada, as gardening boxes pop up in a Blanshard Street courtyard.

Funded by neighbouring Oughtred Coffee, the gardens are being used by the connected restaurants to grow herbs and vegetables, while the rest of the courtyard is open with chairs and tables, provided by Fort Realty.

The first garden was set up in July and two more are planned to be ready this month.

Food Eco District Restaurant Society (FED) director Jill Doucette said that the courtyard is the first step in turning the set of downtown blocks into a destination for culinary tourism and sustainable dining.

FED is looking at ideas to round out its five-year vision, such as public planter boxes in front of every store and rooftop gardens.

FED is funded by its member businesses, of which there are currently eight, though Doucette said she expects more to come on board once they wrap up the courtyard.

“There’s been a lot of interest in it so far, but some businesses are waiting it out because its a new concept, and they want to see what it will look like first,” she said. “Now that our first project is almost finished, they can get an idea of what a food eco district looks like.”

Doucette said that FED is looking towards the cities of Portland, Ore., which began its own eco district projects in 2010, and Trail, which has implemented extensive planter boxes, for inspiration.

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