Find Building Roots on its new website
Many Torontonians young and old lack access to healthy food, but also to ways of growing, preparing, or selling it. That is especially true in Toronto's towering apartment complexes, where neighbourhoods with high immigrant, low income, and racialized populations often exist with much greater distances to food stores, commercial kitchens, urban agriculture, and other food infrastructure.
In Toronto's building boom, are we creating condos that will lead to the same problems? Can we plan food access now that help prevent future "food desserts"?
New developments can benefit and empower their future residents and surrounding communities to improve access to healthy food and places to grow, cook, buy and sell.
Building Roots hopes to achieve stronger access to healthy food for children and familities in diverse and low income neighbourhoods in Toronto through the incorporation of community and commercial food infrastructure being built into new housing developments... things like healthy and diverse food stores, community/commercial kitchens, community food hubs... urban agriculture, street food, or developing and funding others spaces for food programs.
Check out our primer on Building Roots, with what we want to see happen and some examples.
We are working with the Toronto Youth Food Policy Council to train residents in how to advocate for food infrastructure in their neighbourhoods - starting in St. James Town, Downtown East, and Don Mills and Sheppard. We are also helping to facilitate knowledge transfer among stakeholders, so builders and planners and city councillors can work with communities for better food access.
Our Symposium was a great success! Thank you to Daniels Corporation and all participants.
Our toolkit (under construction) is here to support you to build roots in your neighbourhood - learn how to advocate for places to grow, cook, buy and sell food in your neighbourhood:
Look for coming workshops for residents for Don Mills and Sheppard at the Oriole Community Centre and for St. James Town at the Food Forward centre.
Resources to come:
- More models and ideas
Ask a social entrepreneur in Toronto's food scene about food or biz prep and you'll inevitably hear about a need for kitchen space.
It's the most oft heard request we get.
So we worked with Housing Services Corporation to create this map of commercial kitchens on offer in the City. Folks have been really happy about it, but I don't think we're totally satisified.
We need more rentable commercial kitchens on offer in this town. We need them for new entrepreneurs working to make sustainable and ethical products, for pop-up vendors to bring diverse foosd to the street, for Canadian newcomers to scale-up and legitimize new businesses. More kitchens would support more economic opportunities.
Some are being offered quietly by churches and restaurant owners, but aren't in a place to be doing it widely. Others might exist which we haven't found yet (please let us know!)
Our research and that of others has found this strong need, but a lack kitchens that are either certified or rented for business purposes - though good kitchens exist. The need may be highest in the inner suburbs, where many community-based catering and related food businesses exist, but kitchens on our map.
Business activity isn't always looked at as an end goal of the food movement or non-profit agencies. But it should be seen as a social and economic driver.
Entrepreneurs may start stepping up to the plate to rent kitchens and create hubs, perhaps downtown... but with the number of community and health centres, housing, and other agencies that already have kitchens throughout the inner burbs, maybe some of them can start filling this need. As do most things, it may require some commitment, money, and time.
Food actionists are just that. So let's see what we can do.
Contact to help share ideas, solutions, connections.