Urban agriculture

Jul
5

Building Roots

An exciting event is coming July 10 at Paint Box Bistro! We look forward to working with developers, planners, and communities after this event to advocate for more good food infrastructure in housing

Building Roots: Developing Food Systems in Housing from Regent Park+Beyond

More info, guest list and tickets: http://buildingroots.eventbrite.com

From a rich history of community gardening, Regent Park’s revitalization has included a significant focus on food. Innovative partnerships have infused the new space with new ways of doing urban agriculture, along with a resident-led farmer’s market, a social venture restaurant, a grocery store, and a Big Park.  These food focussed programs have provided the neighbourhood with new social, cultural, and economic opportunities for residents, and a new challenge for modern development.

Join us at this special Food Forward Symposium to learn about planning and building healthy food access into our City’s new housing developments.  A casual evening of presentations, hors d'oeuvres, and the sharing of stories from Regent Park and other exciting food projects around the GTA.  We look forward to welcoming developers, architects, planners, property managers, community members, food advocates, economic developers, food businesses, and policy makers to this vibrant dialogue.

The evening's speakers include:

- Special guests from Daniels Corporation

- Regent Park resident gardeners

- Chris Klugman, Owner of Paint Box Catering & Bistro

- Gavin Dandy, Farm Director of Everdale/Black Creek Community Farm

- Darcy Higgins, Executive Director of Food Forward

Before the symposium, enjoy a visit to the new Regent Park Farmer's Market, 3PM-7PM adjacent to Daniels Spectrum!

This project was made possible through funding from the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

Mar
15

New opportunities popping up

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.

Check our new TOpopups for this and other upcoming events, and follow on Twitter @TOpopups.

We also know of another farmer's market and good food market looking for vendors/urban ag. Contact darcy@pushfoodforward.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.

Feb
8

Not Just Talk - getting to the roots on Feb16

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 darcy@pushfoodforward.com

Learn about the Growing Food & Justice Initiative .

Nov
9

Calling for unanimous support to GrowTO

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.

Find Councillor McMahon's letter and motion and the GrowTO Action Plan and its many more recommendations for Toronto's food and political community. And more here on our past urban ag work.