February 2014

Feb
24

Nut milk at the Food Forward centre!

Food Forward members are offering their diverse skillset in our new centre's Foodstarter series.

If you’re not down with dairy or you just want more variety in your milk­life, join us for this fun and tasty demo on making MILK out of NUTS and SEEDS.

You’ll learn how to make:

● The queen of nutmilks, ALMOND milk
● creamy and smooth HEMP milk
● rich and frothy CHOCOLATE­ HAZELNUT milk

We’ll talk about different types of nut milks, budget­friendly options, storage considerations, and what to do with all that leftover nut­meal!

Hosted by Hillary Connolly of Food/Craft

COST OF WORKSHOP is $15 (a sliding scale is available, please email for more information) . Proceeds go towards supporting the Food Forward Centre.

We have two easy and convenient ways TO REGISTER:

1. You can RSVP through email and then just pay in cash on the evening of the workshop when you show up.
email: Alyssa@pushfoodforward.com 
or 
2. You can register and pay in advance , directly online at:
http://www.uniiverse.com/nutstomilk

   
Feb
21

Food Action Hub

Food Forward has opened a hub downtown to meet the needs of our organization and grow our capacity to support the food movement - a space where food advocacy, community and jobs connect.

We believe in the power of our networks to create a better City through food. We've seen the results of harnessing the ideas of our members and supporting them into action through resources, capacity and connections. Our centre on Carlton St. is becoming a vibrant place for Food Forward's initiatives, volunteers, and members working to advance food justice and food initiatives throughout the City.

Consider joining us here!

A Jobstarter workshop at Food Forward's new Food Action Hub on Carlton St. adjacent Allan Gardens, transit and diverse Toronto neighbourhoods.

Our work here involves community-building initiatives, strategy meetings, entrepreneurship workshops, community partnerships, space to grow and prep food - lots to offer and more coming...

Follow the Hub on Facebook.

The space is available for meetings and events for businesses, organizations, or grassroots projects - please inquire.

Contact us for more information and let us know what you're working on: info@pushfoodforward.com 

Feb
19

A peek into Toronto's (potential) street food change

We're almost there!

After working to change street food by-laws since 2011 (and some of our members working even longer), things are looking up. Since this time, City Council has so far changed policies to allow diverse menus by street vendors, and eliminated unfair fees for vendors to hire workers. More is on the way thank to literally thousands of your letters, voices, emails, tweets, petition signatures.

It is time that the people who cook our food have a more just system to sell whichrespects different economic backgrounds, cultures and opportunities... And serves the public who wants diverse and affordable options.

Natalia Martinez speaks to the media while handing out free fruit to people in front of Toronto City Hall on Wednesday, May 15, 2013. The "illegal" pop-up food cart was organized by Food Forward to draw attention to the city's antiquated street food rules. (Don Peat/Toronto Sun)

On March 18, councillors on the City's Licensing and Standards Committee will meet to review proposed by-laws that City staff and a several years-long working group have developed. The last few months have seen a much stronger consultation and development of policies leading to some proposals that could improve access to diverse food and food entrepreneurship

The highlights:

No new street food vendors have been allowed to sell in downtown wards 20, 27 and 28 for over a decade. The current proposal from City staff is to do away with that moratorium. Councillors will need to hear your voices in support of this change.

We need to see lots of new spots available for food carts to bring in opportunities for diverse food vendors. However the initial proposal is for only 10 new spots downtown and 10 elsewhere. Spots might be designated in a lottery system.

Street food will be allowed in any private property. Carts or trucks will only need a vendorsbusiness license, and they'll be able to work out any rental with the property owner. This so far has not been allowed in many cases - like in parking lots. It is quite a positive change. We'd like to help vendors connect with these new opportunities come spring if this passes.

City staff are wrestling with two options on food trucks - whether to allow them to stop on regular street parking, or to have a number of designated places to parking. Like food carts, they'll likely designate a number of trucks or spots to be allowed at first.

Restaurant owners need not worry, either way, food trucks will have to be 25 metres away from them. This is normal in many cities. 

If you have input or questions on these final policies, email Luke Robertson of Licensing and Standards at lrobert5@toronto.ca

Also consider emailing or calling city councillors with your thoughts. You can contact your own councillor, or start with those on the Committee which will be reviewing this first. 

You can also attend the public Committee meeting or even speak in support of positive recommendations on Tuesday March 18 at City Hall Committee room 1 (second floor) beginning at 9:30.

Bon appetit!

Feb
12

What food in development looks like

Building Roots is working to create neighbourhoods as places to grow, cook, buy and sell food.


PHOTO

Paint Box Bistro is at once a food incubator for helping new food businesses, a training program for residents of Regent Park, a bistro serving healthy delicious skills and a jazz club.

PHOTO

Another project by Daniel's is the Erin Mills Backyard Farm at a future development site owned by the developer.

PHOTO

Even though there are traditional big box stores available for grocery shopping in the area, the Backyard Farm gradually garnered a following.
By the end of the season, 35 people had subscribed to CSA boxes.

PHOTO

At One Park Place in Regent Park enthusiastic residents planned, planted and eventually picked vegetables from their gardens.
To ensure success, planting seminars and information sessions were held with the residents.

PHOTOS

TAS is another developer with a strong belief in urban agriculture.

The Farm Lot, a garden on an empty TAS lot at 369 King St W, was built in conjunction with the Detox Market and Fresh City Farms.
Herbs, kale, chard, spinach and survived beautifully in the partially shaded lot.

PHOTO

The other impressive TAS urban agriculture project was the rooftop garden in Regent Park.
Lead by Micki Mulch in collaboration with Cultivate Toronto, seventy two planter boxes were installed on the roof.
A large variety of vegetables, strawberries, flowers and the special Three Sisters Box yielded a lot of healthy food.

PHOTO

While the garden had it's challenges, such as getting all the soil and the Earth Boxes up to the roof, in the end, CRC at 40 Oaks received the bulk of a good harvest.

PHOTO

Feb
10

Building Roots Toolkit: providing input!

You’ve got neighbourhood problems, and ideas for how to address it. You want to see some healthy food infrastructure in your neighbourhood through its new developments. What do you do?

- Contact your local city councillor! (Who is my councillor?) This is especially important during the development review process because Community Council and City Council make the final decisions on development applications, and they usually follow the lead of the local councillor.

- City Councillors are eager to secure some sort of community benefit as part of any development application that occurs in their ward. This can be done through a financial contribution through Section 37 of the Planning Act or something that is a part of the development, such as community space, publicly accessible open space or food infrastructure (urban agriculture in parks, community/commercial kitchens in community recreation centres, community food hubs).

- Section 37 of the Planning Act allows municipalities, through a rezoning application, to grant increases in height and density beyond what is permitted in the Zoning by-law, in return for community benefits. The City Planner and the local councillor decide if Section 37 benefits should be required as part of an approval. If Section 37 benefits are deemed appropriate, the planner, councillor and applicant negotiate together on the required amount and what it will go to.

Examples of what Section 37 monies have been spent on include improvements to public parks and playgrounds, streetscaping, public art and contributions to larger projects such as swimming pools and community centres.   

For more information on Section 37, click here.

Remember:

- A Community Consultation Meeting is required for all Zoning Amendment (rezoning) applications and Official Plan Amendment applications. This is a key part of the development approval process to voice one’s opinion on a proposal to the planner, developer and the ward Councillor.  

- Community members should also get involved with any planning studies happening in their neighbourhood. These studies are designed to create a vision for the neighbourhood, which new development should ideally conform to. This is an excellent way to get out ahead of development and collaborate on proactive planning instead of always reacting to to specific development applications.

- Another excellent way to get involved with City Planning in Toronto, especially ‘big picture’ planning, is through the Five Year Official Plan Review and Municipal Comprehensive Review. This is the time when changes can be made to the Official Plan policies and land designations. To find out more about this process and how you can get involved, click here.

Steps to get involved:

- Talk to neighbours and fellow community builders about what food infrastructure is needed in your neighbourhood. Look at and share examples of what’s been done elsewhere. Connect with Food Forward and local agencies. Ask them to help you with a food mapping exercise with neighbours. How could your foodscape be improved? Where are the opportunities? Learn what they did in Parkdale, click here.

- Is there a new development that could host what is needed? Or could a developer support a food project at a nearby community centre or park with a financial contribution?

- Look around your neighbourhood. Are there development applications? Look for the large white City signs outside buildings.

- You can also find out about development happening in your ward online (search here) - read about the proposals, find out the stage of the approvals and if there is a public meeting coming up. Contact the listed planner with your ideas.

- Ask if your Councillor is negotiating with applicants on Section 37 benefits as part of a proposal. If so, let your Councillor know what projects and improvements are priorities in your neighbourhoods. Ask if there is retail space being planned as part of the development. Ask what options are available and share ideas (affordable grocer, commercial kitchen, produce/cultural food market).

- Provide input to your councillor by email/phone, or ask to set up a meeting

- Find out if there is a planning studies in your neighbourhood (search here). Read the documents, attend meetings, contact your planner or councillor with ideas.

Back to the Toolkit