Mike Starchuk - Surrey City Councillor

Farm Fresh September

Over the past 18 months, I have been working on ideas to support our local farmers and finding a way to showcase their produce. As the Chair of Surrey’s Agricultural Food Security Advisory Committee, I am elated to introduce a pilot project that showcases locally produced/grown/raised/processed food that will be on the menus of our Surrey restaurants in September. Each town centre has representation and will be offering their preparation of Surrey local food on Sundays in September, with the exception of South Surrey, where Tap Restaurant will be offering their local menu on Tuesdays.

Farm Fresh September - Farm to Table - MikeStarchuk.comOne third (1/3) of the City of Surrey is in the Agricultural Land Reserve. To keep the public aware of this, the menus have been developed to have a minimum of two thirds (2/3) of the menu items coming from the City. As we move through the month of September, those farms that are providing the restaurants their menu items, will be featured on various media platforms.

For more on this pilot program go to:

http://www.surrey.ca/culture-recreation/20575.aspx?startDate=Aug-18-2016

For more information regarding our local farms and markets go to:

www.surrey.ca/farmfresh

Please take some time to enjoy a Sunday dinner (Tuesday in South Surrey) that features our local farms — which translates to better tasting foods — and supports our local economy.

The participating restaurants are:

Bozzinnis – 13655 104 Avenue

Elements Casino – 17755 60 Avenue

Maharaja Restaurant – 8148 128 Street

Old Surrey Restaurant  – 13483 72 Avenue

Royal Oak Restaurant – 15336 Fraser Highway

Tap Restaurant – 101-15350 34 Avenue ***

The Taphouse 15330 102A Avenue

*** Tap Restaurant will offer their menu on Tuesdays in September, as the restaurant is closed on Sundays.

 

Click here to read the City of Surrey Media Release regarding Agricultural Week & Farm Fresh Sundays

Click here to read the Surrey Now article about Farm Fresh Sundays

 

 

 

New Ideas for New Farmers

Thanks to Stefania Seccia from 24 Hours, for taking the time to meet with me today, to expand on the thoughts and ideas that will give an opportunity to a new generation of farmers. Stefania allowed me, as the Chair of City of Surrey’s Agriculture and Food Security Advisory Committee, to speak to the growing (no pun intended) issues surrounding our farming community. The Surrey Virtual Incubator Farm Project will develop a one-stop shop web portal for aspiring young farmers to get basic agri-business information on how to farm. The project will provide the knowledge for new farmers looking for access to lands that are under-utilized in Surrey. The platform will be similar to sites like VRBO (Vacation Rental by Owner), where landowners will be able to list and provide details of their property and interested farmers can review and make contact for a lease arrangement. Surrey will be the first municipality in BC to take such an innovative and proactive approach to promoting the land lease market in BC’s agriculture sector.  

This is innovation and imagination at it’s finest.  I can’t wait for a lunch in a Surrey restaurant in 2016, where 80% of the meal is grown and processed within our City boundaries. If we can get some hops grown in the City, I’ll see what can be done to get that meal closer to 100% from Surrey!

http://vancouver.24hrs.ca/2015/12/02/surrey-goes-airbnb-for-farming 

 

 

Surrey Urban Farmers Market

As the Chair of the Agriculture & Food Security Advisory Committee, I am delighted to support the 8th Annual Surrey Urban Farmers Market in the plaza of City Hall. There are approximately 30 local vendors on site, every week, who provide fresh, homemade, and locally grown and produced items for the public to purchase. This keeps our local economy “growing” (pun intended).

The Market runs through October 7th, every Wednesday, from 1 pm to 6 pm at City Hall.  Entertainment varies from week to week and there is plenty of space to enjoy yourself in the plaza. Nothing tastes better than produce that has just comes fresh from a farm where you know who grew it and how they grew it. Do you know where the fruit and vegetables you ate tonight came from? I do.

Please join me and others on Wednesdays. Help our Urban Farmers Market and keep the local economy going.

For more information about the Surrey Urban Farmers Market, and the vendors and entertainers participating, please visit the Surrey Market website, at: http://surreymarket.org/

 

(Click on any image below to open a pop-up gallery)

Surrey Urban Farmers Market at Surrey City Hall Plaza - MikeStarchuk.com Surrey Urban Farmers Market at Surrey City Hall Plaza - MikeStarchuk.com Surrey Urban Farmers Market at Surrey City Hall Plaza - MikeStarchuk.com
Enjoying the day at Surrey Urban Farmers Market at Surrey City Hall Plaza - MikeStarchuk.com Surrey Urban Farmers Market at Surrey City Hall Plaza - MikeStarchuk.com Enjoying the day at Surrey Urban Farmers Market at Surrey City Hall Plaza - MikeStarchuk.com
Mike with a vendor - Surrey Urban Farmers Market - MikeStarchuk.com Surrey Urban Farmers Market on City Hall plaza - MikeStarchuk.com Vendors at the Surrey Urban Farmers Market - MikeStarchuk.com
  Vendor and excited customer at the Surrey Urban Farmers Market - MikeStarchuk.com  

 

Another Loss

Saturday (May 2, 2015) the second Surrey firefighter in the last few months, was laid to rest as a result of his struggles with mental health issues. Firefighters and other First Responder agencies from all regions across BC, attended the service, to show their support to the family, friends and fellow firefighters, during this trying time.

The Chaplin, Lieutenant Scott Young from Coquitlam FD, led the Celebration in a way that was truly cognizant of the circumstances of the service. While the Celebration of Life was filled with good stories, there was no avoiding the “elephant in the room” which was the mental health issues that our member was challenged with.

Surrey Fire Fighters’ Local 1271 President Mike McNamara called upon the audience to ask that “we put an end to this disease we can all control, and that is the disease of social stigma. It’s time we recognize that an illness is an illness, and it doesn’t matter where it is in your body – your leg, your heart, your lungs or your brain.” Chaplain Young referred to depression as “the bastard that can be in us.”  He spoke of how we all function well and continue our productive lives – until depression takes over and changes the way in which we make decisions.

The Celebration concluded with bagpipes playing Amazing Grace and the trumpet for the Last Post, which was provided by the Surrey Fire Fighters’ Pipes and Drums. Played in perfection and well appreciated by all there, but with all due respect, as a retired Surrey firefighter, songs I do not wish to hear again for a long, long time.

Another Loss - PTSD and First Responders - MikeStarchuk.com

The loss of two Surrey firefighters in two months due to their struggles with mental health issues is numbing. There were counsellors that were on hand in the theatre. A proactive idea to provide the opportunity for those who want to express their thoughts and feelings.

The doors to WorkSafe BC, to start talking about post discharge follow-up for those with a work-associated mental health diagnosis, have been opened. Now the public “social doors” need to be opened. President McNamara said it best when he addressed the social stigma. Olympian Clara Hughes who suffered from depression created the “Let’s Talk” initiative which aimed at fighting the stigma surrounding mental health. It’s time for Firefighters and other First Responders to start taking care of their own members in the same manner in which they serve their community – with pride, honour and respect. It’s time to come to the realization that it is OK to say “I’m not OK.”

Educational awareness will, in all likelihood, become a key component to fighting and ending this stigma. I look forward to the day when I can share that this component has been developed and put in practice. With regards to educational awareness, the National Mental Health Week runs from May 4 to May 10. Join in and participate in the Canadian Mental Health Association’s 64th annual event. Go to https://mentalhealthweek.cmha.ca/ or use the Twitter hashtag #GETLOUD.

 

Global BC Appearance

Yesterday (March 31) I was invited to appear on Global TV’s BC1 program, “Unfiltered” with Jill Krop. We discussed mental health issues as they apply to firefighters and to speak to Kevin’s passing. Jill’s compassion for firefighters and First Responders is clear. She really cares and I was pleased to be given the opportunity to speak (as a former firefighter and current City Councillor) to the past, the current and the future of mental health issues in the First Responder community. We know what the road ahead of us should look like to get the post discharge follow-up for those who have been diagnosed with an occupational mental health condition.

The BC Professional Fire Fighters Association will be meeting later this month with those who can affect the needed changes within WorkSafeBC. The circumstances of Kevin’s passing clearly identify the void that needs to be filled in the regulations and policies within WorkSafeBC. It’s up to the First Responder community to keep WorkSafe BC mindful that they need to fill this void to prevent a similar event from taking place in the future.

In addition, I would like to thank those who have visited my website, and those who take the time to leave comments on Kevin’s Story. I have received many direct messages and emails from folks wanting to get involved with this endeavor. I have also received many follow-up messages from other First Responders who have been diagnosed with PTSD, and their day to day struggles. Let’s keep these people in our thoughts and always, always, always, let them know, “they are not alone.”

Kevin’s Story Update

Maltese Cross with Black Band - RIP Kevin - #287 - MikeStarchuk.comI have been overwhelmed by the response to my last post, “Kevin’s Story.”  If you missed that post, please scroll down… it is right below this one. 

Nearly 5000 people visited my Facebook page, and close to 3000 visitors to this website. While the majority of viewers to this website come from Canada, there were also many visitors from the US, Mexico, Australia, Brazil, and the UK, just to name a few. This indicates that mental health issues in the First Responder community are a global matter.

Thanks to those of you who made thoughtful and sincere comments that were respectful of Kevin’s grieving family. Thanks as well to those who left comments about mental health issues our First Responders face when they report for duty. We need to keep moving this forward within WorkSafeBC to ensure our First Responders have post post-discharge follow-ups with qualified mental health practitioners. Kevin’s story should not be repeated.

RIP Brother.