Sowing Seeds for Future Generations

Sowing Seeds for Future Generations

To Alan and Christina Eastwood, sustainable living goes beyond tending their own organic land and food, to extending support to LFS students facing new hardships during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Eastwoods created an endowment to UBC in 2015, establishing two LFS awards for third-year and graduate students who have significant interest in food systems. This year, in light of the pandemic, they’ve increased available award funds.

“We think there will be more students in difficulty,” Alan explains, “so, the more we can add to the current year’s budget in our endowment, the better.” He wonders whether students may be facing a few difficult years ahead, and adds, “If anything, we would like other people who’ve got endowments to think of that, too.”

The Eastwoods live in North Saanich on Vancouver Island. They moved up island from Victoria to a three-acre spread when they were close to retirement, and they thrived there for 27 years, tending 30 fruit trees and an acre and a half of fully organic garden space.

“We were always busy in the garden!” says Alan, “it was our main time use.”

They moved to a smaller place three years ago, but still enjoy hours in the garden each day.

“It definitely fills my life,” says Christina, “and it’s life-giving, I would say. It’s a big hobby, and I love the fact that it promotes things like bees and bugs and wasps; all the critters that we need so desperately.”

Organic farming is what attracted them to UBC. “We’ve been to the UBC Farm two or three times now,” said Christina. “It promotes what we see as a very healthy and sort of far-reaching Faculty — I mean in their way of thinking, in looking after the soil, the organic nature of the food, and the furtherance of pollinators and birds.”

Organic growing and living sustainably with a small carbon footprint are deep commitments for the Eastwoods. While hereveryday outlook is optimistic, Christina’s long-range outlook is less so.

“I keep hearing these statistics on how many birds are disappearing, and how bees are disappearing. It’s like leaving a scorched earth behind us. And mostly it came from our generation.” Both Christina and Alan see their endowment as a tiny atonement as Alan adds: “We felt that by leaving an endowment to the next generation, maybe they can fix what we broke.”

In their garden this season, they’re seeing more hungry young deer reaching through their fences, and finding oddly beautiful lace-like designs carved in kale and chard by birds. Spending time cultivating in their garden keeps them both active says Christina.

As for the future, Alan says, “We just hope that students will benefit from our endowment, and we hope they’ll continue their interest in food systems.”