Drawing a line in our land

Celebrating Soupstock, we're remembering the impact of Foodstock, as well as thinking about the impact that a united food movement of the scale we're enjoying in Woodbine Park could make in creating the type of food system we envision.

Please enjoy and share this re-posted blog.


If there’s something big we learned from our province’s 30,000+ person contribution to World Food Day – FoodStock – it’s that Ontarians (both urban and rural folk) strongly value our farmland, local food jobs, and the delicious dishes we make from it all.

This shouldn’t be taken for granted. 

Not long ago, we didn’t have the type of food culture and economy we do today.  Indeed, we had many more farmers.  But it’s unlikely we would have found tens of thousands to make the trek out to a chilly farm to make a donation, enjoy good grub and take a stand on local food.

In the past, a proposal for a giant open-pit mine would have brought out environmentalists concerned about water quality and land degradation with locals worried about the threats to their community.  And while those from the affected area have again led the charge, they have today found their broadest support from a burgeoning movement who consider food reasons the primary ones in which to put their booted feet down.

And while foodies had an enjoyable protest demanding their voices be heard against an American hedge fund buying up land for the mega quarry, another type of foodie joined forces with Occupy to set up camp in Toronto, Ottawa, Windsor and many other cities for many of the same underlying reasons. 

The present system has led to the ability of corporations, speculators and hedge funds to make growing profits from higher food prices, land ownership and destruction of the commons, while farmland loss, levels of food bank use and atmospheric carbon continue to skyrocket.  As the food movement grows, links are being made among issues, from farm work to urban poverty, as are the connections within their common causes and potential solutions. 

Farmland protection is but one issue to which a busy movement must keep its attention focused.  The “stop the mega quarry” team has the strength behind it to be a winning one.  To halt the loss of farmland once and for all, this large group must also lend its attention to ongoing local battles , no matter the jurisdiction, and demand new plans to expand and strengthen the Greenbelt and make provincial legislation win ahead of gas plants, mines and sprawl.

But it also needs to create new winning alliances with farmers, farm workers and food processors to create policies that work for all different parts of the chain.  The Greenbelt, though good for the land, hasn’t brought much benefit in and of itself to the farmers.  It should also look to whom good food must feed and connect with those poorly nourished by the present food system.

A mix of good ideas (currently proposed by Sustain Ontario and its partners) could help farmers feed cities, while helping to counter the economic forces that make it valuable for farmers to sell their land.

A movement of tens of thousands will not only shift the political tide on an issue.  It can, if well-organized, demand the democratic and policy changes that will preserve farmland, and create programs to create good jobs (and to better the existing ones) that could feed local, sustainable Ontario food to all.

The cue has come from the food sovereignty and food democracy movements of the Global South, to take the food power back from the towers of greed, and into the hands of the people.

With newly elected governments, local and global sentiments for change and a food movement burgeoning onto the scene, there could not be a better time to draw a line in our land, raise our voice and say what we stand for.


Darcy Higgins is the Executive Director of Food Forward. Originally posted Oct 17, 2010. Join Food Forward today.


Hospital food 2.0

We're pleased to share this update from our Town Hall event, Healthy Food, Healthy Living: Strengthening Local Food Connections in Healthcare.

There was great coverage in The Grid with their reporter's learnings from the event. Food Forward is following-up to build on the momentum by considering creative ways to support better food in health care, with an "Idea Potluck" on June 26th, from 5:30-6:30 downtown. It will be a facilitated conversation and brainstorming session to establish where everyone is at in their work, where we want to go, and how best to help each other get there. Contact Linda ( or Elena ( for more information and to let us know you're coming!

Thanks to Sustain Ontario for partnering and recording... check their website for Powerpoint information and a video about the Seed to Feed Project with the University Health Network and Scadding Court Community Centre.

Taking the “hospital” out of hospital food


Hospital food. For some, the very term sounds like an oxymoron. But healthcare institutions in Ontario are starting to pick up some of the foodie trends that have become so pervasive in society of late.

Values like local, fresh, healthy and, of course, deliciousness are beginning to enter the hospital sphere, with Toronto’s St. Michael’s Hospital leading by example.

At last night’s panel discussion on strengthening local food connections in healthcare, held in a committee room at City Hall, the 20-odd attendees got the chance to, as moderator and Food Forward volunteer Linda Swanston put it, “play city councilors.”

Seated at spiraled tables and lavish leather chairs, participants listened to Heather Fletcher, Food Services Manager at St. Michael’s Hospital, as well as Franco Naccarato, program manager at the Greenbelt Fund, and Elena Hall, Green Team Member/Seed to Feed Organizer at Princess Margaret Hospital, discuss the methods and outcomes of incorporating fresh, local food into healthcare institutions, and got the opportunity to submit questions on the topic.

Here’s what I learned:

Read more:


Healthy Food, Healthy Living: Strengthening Local Food Connections in Healthcare

Photo Courtesy of Ross Memorial Hospital

Free Public Panel Discussion and Webinar

Tuesday May 15th, 2012

6:30pm – 8:00pm

Toronto City Hall, Committee Room 2

100 Queen Street West, Toronto ON

Eventbrite - Strengthening Local Food Connections in Healthcare

Please join Food ForwardSustain Ontario, and Farm to Cafeteria Canada for a panel discussion about local food success stories in Toronto healthcare facilities.

Join our inspirational panel of speakers in a conversation about how their innovative healthcare food initiatives and experiences have brought more fresh, local and sustainable food to healthcare facilities across Toronto. 

Registration for the event is FREE but donations to Food Forward will be accepted at the door. If you are unable to attend in person, Sustain Ontario will be providing a FREE Webinar service(Click to register!) Registration for the webinarcloses May 14th.

Panelists: Heather Fletcher – Food Services Manager, St. Michael’s Hospital

Elena Hall – Green Team Member/Seed to Feed Organizer, Princess Margaret Hospital

Franco Naccarato – Program Manager, Broader Public Sector Investment Fund

Panel moderation by Hayley Lapalme - Project & Workshop Coordinator at My Sustainable Canada

This event is open to all. For more information regarding the event, please contact Darcy Higgins at or call             416-459-9975     

For more information on the webinar, please contact Carolyn Young at or            647-839-4030      . If you are having any trouble joining the webinar, contact WEBEX at            1-866-229-3239      


Greening health care through the local economy

Even though we’ve been rather quiet, Food Forward has been working fervently on the Health Sector Food File. We got a few things planned and we’ll be launching them soon so stay tuned.

In the meantime we’re thrilled to promote one of our partners’ upcoming events. You may remember in an earlier blog I wrote about the amazing work of the Canadian Coalition for Green Health Care (CCGHC). Last year they brought together all kinds of actors in the food chain to talk about how to innovate and improve patient and staff meals.  It was such an accomplishment to get all the major food service corporations around the table with the aim of improving patient experience! 

This year the CCGHC is working on involving more local and small-scale producers in hospital and health-sector procurement.  Next week they are hosting a workshop on “demystifying institutional procurement to re-build the system” in Burlington.  Food Forward will be there and we’re hoping that some of our members who are producers or processors may be interested in attending as well. 

Right now the event is looking for small producers and processors – local bakers, artisanal cheese makers, small-scale canning businesses - rather than interested observers.  But not to worry if you’re an enthusiastic public supporter, one of Food Forward’s current schemes is to hold a public event later this year to really showcase and celebrate all the changes underway in Toronto’s hospital kitchens.

There’s more information below and if you’re interested in registering just get in touch with Hayley Lapalme at

An article in today’s Globe and Mail profiles a project that is successfully breaking down barriers for small processors to service hospitals.  Check out how Real Food For Real Kids is collaborating with Scarborough General Hospital to improve patient experience.

And as always if you want to get involved with Food Forward’s work in the Health Care Sector send us a note at  We’d love to bring you up to speed!

Building a Local Food Culture: Demystifying Institutional Procurement to Re-Build the System

Wednesday, January 25, 2012 from 8:30 AM to 3:00 PM (ET)

Burlington, Ontario at the Royal Botanical Gardens

This workshop will bring members of the health care food value chain together to discuss how small and medium sized local food producers can access the institutional market.  Topics that will be covered include De-Mystifying Institutional Procurement: a discussion of RFPs and the food needs of health care as well as Closing the Supply-Demand Gap: how different members of the value chain have helped rebuild the middle

Cost: Free to Ontario farmers, producers, and processors

Local lunch provided

Agenda and Registration: please contact Hayley Lapalme at