Some cool opportunities have come up that we wanted to share with good food vendors and community organizations.
Register as a vendor for June's Toronto Food Fest. It's a multicultural show with a focus on featuring new chefs from Markham and Scarborough. You can also apply for a permanent spot with Market 707. Five new stalls are opening up! More info here. And if you want to vend at major City of Toronto organized events, check out their application form.
We also know of another farmer's market and good food market looking for vendors/urban ag. Contact email@example.com to inquire. Check out our new Food Entrepreneur Training Program page for links to more opportunties for vending, education, and training.
The Regent Park Food Partnership is inviting expressions of interest from resident groups and organizations for the development of community demonstration gardens, a community greenhouse, and a bake oven. Successful applicants would work with residents and the City of Toronto on its new park.
And a reminder that letters of interest for the Weston Family Parks Challenge fo rmajor projects are due April 5 to Park People.
Tanya Fields is a woman who inspires me these days.
Her work with the BLK ProjeK is the kind that empowers people and communities - in particular, underserved women of colour - to take back control of this broken food system and lead with the change they want to see.
It was because of this type of food movement work, most likely, that she was invited, and then uninvited to be a featured speaker at TedXManhattan: Changing the way we eat. Her organzing on good food and food jobs in the Bronx is bringing hundreds together while creating positive change. It shows the difference a person can make while giving it what you've got, and developing some skills and ideas with the community.
An open letter from Tanya to the organizers regarding the dis-invite was when the issue and Tanya's work came to my attention. An apology and reconcilitation note later came, with the hope of focusing on stronger attention to issues of food justice and race using a critical lense. A food movement that doesn't focus on realities of economies, poverty, racism, or privilege isn't much of a movement at all.
Their vision for a way forward could in fact be a model for those working in Toronto as well:
"The consequences of and responses to this action have provided a powerful message about how fundamental issues of race, representation, cultural divide and fear affect our work and must be addressed, respectfully and honestly... We are determined to harness the power and commitment that was so clearly expressed and use it as fuel for positive solutions as we move forward."
After the invitation was revoked, Tanya went ahead to organize an event Not Just Talk: Food in the South Bronx, at the same time as TEDxManhattan. Organizers of each, however, will now be attending each others' events and sharing dialogue.
So here in Toronto, Lettuce Connect with the Academy of the Impossible is co-hosting a viewing party of the Ted talks on Saturday February 16th - there I'll say a few words on my learning on the ability to likewise expand food justice work in Toronto. Meanwhile, we have the Live Stream details from Tanya to view Not Just Talk from the winterty comfort of home. Both run all day, and it should be easy to catch some of either or both events.
Our food connections and diverse work need strong community roots.
Check out the details of these events, as well as Canadian Organic Growers' conference the same day, and let's all have a weekend of practical learning together.
Darcy Higgins, Executive Director of Food Forward can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Learn about the Growing Food & Justice Initiative .
Food Forward has called on councillors to fully endorse Scaling Up Urban Agriculture today as the Parks and Environment Committee discusses a report moved by Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon highlighting recommendations from the GrowTO Action Plan.
We have written in support of the recommmndations after a remarkable show of interest in urban agriculture this summer and increasing support over the last decade in the form of several reports, city strategies, community programs and new enterprises. We are looking forward to see the City will take another step forward in its support of an urban agriculture program and a co-ordinated office.
As the number of Torontonians vulnerable to food insecurity increases due to the economic situation, urban agriculture can be part of a strategy for increasing access to good food, and create jobs in all parts of the City.
To do this, we'll need to see an increase in support and leadership from the City to end any unnecessary hurdles faced by community members, agencies, or budding entrepreneurs. The City support within a number of divisions that exists has been helpful in producing results. Stumbling blocks are sometimes faced in Parks, due to lack of City staff resources, and will erode somewhat in 2013 due to the loss of the Live Green animator program. The recommendations also aim to review policy change to support land use and sale of food.
We hope for unanimous support and a strong call from the Committee to see a report return in good time that will bring enhanced City support and a clear, simple program to respond to Torontonians' action in the growing and distribution of food.
Community gardening is on a roll in Toronto. Gardens are part of most community food programs and a part of developments in new park and neighbourhoods plans throughout the City.
Despite this, the City hasn't met its 1999 target of a garden in every ward... we're short about 19 wards (outof 44). Though the target may have been more symbolic than practical (it takes a community not government itself to create a garden), there is still work that City staff, residents, and councillors can do together to achieve our potential.
Taking leadership in this work has been the Live Green community animators under EcoSpark, who have been working all over the City supporting residents to start community gardens along with other local food and environmental projects. Food Forward has worked in partnership with the four animators and watched them do amazing things to support and enable community work. For example, our Food For Ward rep in ward 25 is working with North York's community animator to start a community garden in York Mills.
It is unfortuante then, after a five year run, the community animation program (destined to run for that length), is ending this year. As a final event, the animators are organizing four panels for community members working to start environmental projects. I am excited to be moderating the discussion on community gardens with a number of experienced community food organizers.
I hope that a type of animation program can again be re-born with the City's support. For now we can learn from each other's work through forums like these; food and community organizations in the City; and one-on-one connections built through events like Foodie Drinks', Facebook, and networks including the Food For Ward Project we've established.
We can also work with local city councillors, many of whom are more than happy to assist gardens get started. We've had conversations with many and know of councillors who are helpful or want to help - here's an incomplete list of food & garden keeners if you're want to connect (and let us know who we should add): Councillors Bailao, Councillor Berardinetti, Councillor Carroll, Councillor Cho, Councillor Colle, Councillor De Baeremaeker, Councillor Doucette, Councillor Filion, Councillor Fletcher, Councillor Fragedakis, Councillor Layon, Councillor Matlow, Councillor McMahon, Councillor McConnell, Councillor Parker, councillor Pasternak, Councillor Robinson, Councillor Vaughan, Councillor Wong-Tam.
Check here for more resources.