Bill and Judy Wilcox : The Dr. Victor Cecilioni Award – 2014

The Dr. Victor Cecilioni Award for the Environmentalist of the Year recognizes long-term efforts that create a significant impact in the community. This year’s recipients are Bill and Judy Wilcox, the founders and driving force behind Hamilton Victory Gardens.

In 2007, Bill and Judy started a garden at a west mountain church and donated the produce to food banks. Four years later they started the first Victory Garden. There were six sites the following year and by 2014 there were a dozen Victory Gardens across the city. With the help of over 350 volunteers, Hamilton Victory Gardens generated 45,000 pounds of produce last year, in the process changing neighbourhoods and people’s lives in multiple positive ways.

Last year produce donations went to five meal kitchens and five other food banks. A ‘sweat equity’ program was also launched which allows marginalized individuals and opportunity to exchange volunteer hours for fresh produce. Victory Gardens also supported the Good2Go Food Box program and the Food4Kids summer program last year.

Inspired by Cuba’s urban gardens that provide half of Havana’s produce, Bill and Judy’s work directly combats poverty, builds community resilience, enhances food security and health, reduces transportation emissions, and provides volunteers with both skills and the opportunity to make positive change. Those volunteers include students, seniors and people directly helping to feed themselves and their families.