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Cowichan Green Community

Judy Stafford

How many full-time employees (including yourself) work in your business or org?


Are your annual sales [budget] over or under $500K yearly?


What do you believe makes your business or org uniquely successful?

CGC is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. This would not have been possible without the tenacity of the Board, staff and volunteers along with a clear vision, desire to serve our community, and by taking extraordinary risks. Over these past two decades, we have witnessed the increasing demand for affordable and healthy food access in our community. We have seen the need and we have responded in creative and innovative ways. We have initiated and maintained dozens of programs from working with local government to change bylaws to allow for backyard chickens, all the way to inspiring children to learn how to grow tomatoes at our summer camp.

We purchased, renovated, and completely revitalized a part of downtown when we turned a grubby, problematic hotel and pub into a vibrant, colourful, haven for 20 low-income residents, and became the home to 2 thriving commercial businesses as well as CGC’s headquarters. We won 3 major awards for this achievement – one from the Real Estate Foundation of BC and two from the City of Duncan for our hard work and ability to visualize this tremendous building into an essential community asset. From our community kitchen, we served over 16,000 community meals in 2023 including providing breakfast and dinner to the 34 residents at the temporary housing shelter, Meals on Wheels, and a homeless youth program. To date, in this facility, we have reclaimed and redistributed over 1.5 Million pounds of excess food from a variety of retailers and growers.


We have offered dozens of community initiatives including producing an annual Farm Map, promoting over 60 local farms every year and the Island Farm and Garden Magazine issued 5 times a year, operating two teaching farms, offering hundreds of workshops, managing a community food network, providing employment to hundreds of staff, interns and engaging with hundreds of volunteers to support the most vulnerable community members in the Cowichan Region. Check out our 2023 Year in Review video:


Watch our Year in review video


Regardless of how you define growth, what are the short- and long-term growth plans for your business?

Unfortunately, our short and long-term goals were not to ‘grow’. The only reason we would grow would be because the community's need for food continues to grow. In an ideal world, CGC would not have to exist because everyone would have sufficient access to healthy, vibrant, local food. However, that is not the case and unfortunately, since our inception, the need for our services has grown exponentially.

Having said that our short and long-term major goals are to continue to diversify our income streams so we are less grant reliant which will allow us to continue our work and best serve our most vulnerable community members. Our immediate goal is to make the business run as efficiently as possible with the long-term vision of expansion in the form of additional locations or mobile services.


What new products, processes or other actions have you taken in the past to address changing market conditions, customer expectations and or growth opportunities.

Over the past year, we have implemented a few new programs. These include:

•      Youth-focused weekly free pizza plus workshop events at the Cob Oven in Centennial Park. Since we started this program, we have served over 450 youth. We have not only provided delicious homemade pizza but also we have created connections with social agencies, which has allowed some youth to attend training programs, gain employment, connect to housing, and receive other services to help with their overall well-being.

•      A monthly senior’s soup and workshop series that provides free soup to seniors along with a learning opportunity. Studies show that older seniors are less likely to skip meals when others join them. By promoting social interactions during meals, we can better ensure nutrition while improving emotional well-being among aging individuals. There are an average of 30-40 seniors who attend each month. They not only can enjoy a nourishing meal but they also learn of resources they can utilize and also they feel more connected and make new friends – all of which contribute to older individuals' overall health and well-being.

•      Youth Homeless Meal Program – in partnership with Discovery Youth Services we prepare 15 meals 6 nights a week that are delivered out onto the streets to precariously housed youth. Most days, this is the only meal they receive every day.


How specifically do you operationalize the idea of “Excellence” in your business?

We incorporate excellence throughout our work in the following ways:

•      Staffing – we have a detailed Onboarding process everyone is engaged in whether they are in a management position or a short-term internship. We have a 30/60/90 formal check-in strategy to help guide their orientation and ensure they feel they are on the right track, to guide their position with CGC, and to ensure their success. We also hold one-on-ones with staff so any issues can be addressed immediately. Staff also participate in the monthly staff meetings and the Managers also have set meetings to help support each other, learn new skills, and share their progress and issues with other staff for support. We have offered coaching workshops, and training is made available for those who feel they would gain from acquiring additional knowledge and skills, as well CGC has also been certified as an Inclusive Employer through WorkBC.

Programming –we work exceptionally hard to ensure our programs remain relevant and are the most effective for the community. We conduct evaluations and track important statistics, including number of people served, collect testimonials, and also readjust as required. We provide programmatic evaluations to the funders and also create new programs as the needs arise.

Clients – we do our very best to provide exceptional service to all our clients no matter which program they are engaged with. For those who are purchasing our fresh vegetables, to those who enjoy our homecooked meals we ensure everyone receives exceptional service and care.

Donors – we have a very detailed donor recognition process that includes formal ‘touches’ that are made every year to acknowledge their support and ensure they are aware of the impact they are making with their contributions to CGC and our most vulnerable community members.

Community Partnerships – we work with numerous partners through many different ways including formally through networking opportunities including the Food Security Network that we have managed since 2007 which has over 40 members, as well as the 20+ community organizations we support with our food recovery project. We write joint grant applications, provide letters of support, and share resources whenever possible. We have provided insurance for other grass root groups for them to do important work such as Meals on the Ground, a three-evening-a-week homeless meal program, the Cowichan River Clean up that has removed thousands of pounds of debris from the Cowichan River, and other groups that organize events such as the Climate Change Expo, etc

Local Government – we have worked extensively with local government including

The City of Duncan.


  • Chickens in the Backyard

  • GE-Free Procurement Policy

Community involvement:

  • Duncan Environment Commission

  • Anti-Idling Campaign

  • Integrated Community Sustainability Plan

  • Active Transportation Plan

  • Urban Forestry Strategy


  • Solar Days

  • Centennial Event Contracts:

  • Management of the Cob Oven in Centennial Park.


Community involvement:

  • Environment Commission

  • Agriculture Committee

  • Area Agriculture plan

Economic Development Strategic Plan


  • Environmental Education – Transit, Solid Waste, Water

  • Municipality of North Cowichan

Community Involvement:

  • Agriculture Committee

Licence of Occupation:

  • Kinsmen Park beside Cowichan High where we operate KinPark Youth Urban Farm

  • Beverly Street where we operate the Cowichan Farm and Food Hub

Cowichan Green Community
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