Christmas gift ideas

Most of these are local to Victoria, but maybe if you’re elsewhere you have similar options (let me know if you do!) for giving gifts that will make a bigger difference this year.

1. Buy a farm a long term future
A local organic farming couple is seeking investors to help them keep their land available for farming in perpetuity: Madrona Farm has met the first installment deadline in its quest to raise $2.5 million to buy its permanent custodianship for agricultural use under the TLC — thanks in no small part to the number of British Columbians who’ve donated their carbon tax (“climate action dividend”) cheques to the cause. There’s another deadline coming up in July, so you can start now…

2. Buy another farm a long term future
The Farmlands Trust is also seeking investors and TLC covenant protection to purchase Woodwynn Farm. So far they have raised over $3 million in donations and no-interest loans and are seeking another $2-$2.5 million in time for their March 15th, 2009 deadline. Every donation over $50 receives a tax receipt and thank-you card from The Land Conservancy of BC. You can check it out for yourself with a visit to the neighbourhood, at 7pm on Thursday December 4 in St Stephens Church Hall, 7921 St Stephen’s Road, Saanich, to catch a viewing of Island on the Edge and hear about the fund-raising plans from the people behind the project.

3. Buy a stake in ecological vision: OUR Ecovillage in Cobble Hill, a living laboratory of rural sustainability, attracts 7500 visitors a year who come to learn about cooperative living, permaculture, natural building, and a new vision of life on Earth. They’re seeking people who want to invest in OUR Ecovillage Co-operative at $5,000 per share; or to make a charitable (tax-deductible) donation to the Cowichan Community Land Trust have OUR Ecovillage put into protection as a Community Land Trust.

4. Buy some veggies for someone who needs them: if the Food Roots Holiday Box (20 lbs of local edible fun for $49) sounds like too much fun to keep to yourself, you can donate a box (or more!) through Food Roots, to the Salvation Army or the Women’s Transition House.

5. Give a turkey. Get in touch with Joyce & Peter at Earle Clarke House in Victoria (sometime before December 21), and pledge some money or food for the Christmas hampers they put together each year for families in need. They look for everything from stuffing mix to turkeys. They have 100 empty hampers they’d really like to fill this year.

6. Bless the bees: Give bee-friendly plants, or a home-made mason bee house or a bumblebee nest to encourage them (or you can order some here). People have been sending me honeybee news, for which I am most grateful: here’s a story about bee havens in Europe (thanks Ruth!); about a swarm of protest in Britain (thanks Judi!); and another about the founder of a cool group called Bees Without Borders.

7. Give a goat: Oxfam Unwrapped offers a dazzling selection of items and services for people in developing countries, from seeds to water to healthcare training. They’ll send a card to your friend or relative describing the gift you selected for them while the gift and proceeds generated go to those who need them most. (Meli told me about a wedding she went to where the gift list was all Oxfam Unwrapped: how great is that?)

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