We get asked this question a lot. What is this whole ‘Eco District’ concept, and what makes FED one of them?
Let’s break it down. An Eco District is an urban neighbourhood like an arts or culture district, except the focus is on environmental sustainability.
The Eco Districts approach is to “think outside the building”, to see the activity that happens in the in-between spaces and the power that exists in community collaboration. The idea is that sustainable change is accelerated when businesses, residents and community groups work together on neighbourhood-scale projects that enhance the lives of people directly where they work and play.
FED is the first Eco District in North America that celebrates food. Several restaurant owners, recognizing just how many outstanding local, chef-driven food offerings were popping up in Victoria’s downtown core, had the idea to work together to create a sustainable dining destination that also showcased the growing potential of urban agriculture.
With mini urban gardens on the boulevards and greenways outside our restaurant members, we want to demonstrate that food production can happen in unexpected places – in alleyways and courtyards, on sidewalks and rooftops. We want to bring food right into the heart of our city, where it’s up close and personal, where it can be seen, smelled, and tasted by residents and locals alike.
Back in 2015, a group of FED volunteers was one of twelve teams accepted to attend EcoDistricts Incubator in Portland, Oregon. With support from Vancity, we were able to attend this three-day intensive workshop offered by the Portland Sustainability Institute to spread the Eco Districts concept to neighbourhoods across the continent.
We toured established Eco Districts in Portland and learned about other neighbourhoods that are being designed in cities of the future, like San Francisco’s SoMa District and the Ottawa Centre Eco District.
What we took away from the Incubator is that the Food Eco District is unique, and has the potential to transform downtown Victoria. Let’s celebrate those local businesses that are leading the way to a more resilient, beautiful urban future.