Local good food expert and Vic High student Eden Murray oversaw the organization of the first Youth Food Conference, held recently under the auspices of CRFair (Capital Region Food and Agriculture Initiatives Roundtable). She looks forward to expanding the awareness of healthy food options for the community through the newly established Youth Food Network. Photo contributed

Positives come out of Victoria’s first Youth Food Conference

Event achieves goal of broadening volunteer base and awareness of good food initiatives

Eden Murray understands that teaching young people about the availability of “good food,” the resources available to source that food and the cultural significance of certain foods is an ongoing process.

In the days following the 2017 Youth Food Conference in Victoria, a recent weekend-long initiative of CRFair – the Capital Region Food and Agriculture Initiatives Roundtable – Murray has had a chance to reflect on what went well and what outcomes are in sight.

A Vic High student and youth food action team co-ordinator for CRFair, she organized a weekend that saw people aged 14 to 24 gather together for an introduction, a meal and some local music on the Friday; attend a variety of topic-specific workshops on Saturday, then regroup on the final day for an activity fair, world cafe, networking and reflection time on what they learned.

While 150 people signed up for the free weekend, the number of attendees was significantly less. But Murray is undeterred and is actually excited about the future prospects of the local Youth Food Network.

“I think we’re working with youth that are more hands-on people; they like to cook and garden and things like that,” she said.

The Saturday was all about learning: knowledge pods were organized at various places in the city on such topics as herbalism, soil preparation, permaculture, meat sourcing and even ethically made chocolate.

Those participating on the Sunday were a “very dedicated” group that will broaden the volunteer base as part of the Youth Food Network and be counted upon to spread the education and awareness of accessible food resources to a greater population, she said.

“I feel like we’re launching a very core group, a very strong group, which feels really good because I know it can just grow from there,” Murray said. “I think next year, we’ll have their friends come and the word will get out there.”

Where the action team has previously staged food workshops for smaller group of interested youth, its members will take on an advisory role for the network, organizing quarterly meetings and the yearly conference.

“I’m not only excited about the next (conference) but I’m really excited about the littler things in between, that’s going to be really good for the Youth Food Network, the different workshops we’ll do, and the the smaller meetings we’ll have.”

The network is all about having a diversity of voices and perspectives, especially the youth voice, she says. “It’s about activism versus ageism.”

To learn more, visit youthfoodnetwork.ca or email Murray at youthcoordinator@crfair.ca.

editor@vicnews.com

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