Darcy Higgins's blog


Announcing the 2014 Food Idol Award winners!

Help us share and congratulate the 2014 #FoodIdol Winners online!

At Food Forward Turns Four, entrepreneurs Natalia “Cookie” Martinez, Evis Chirowamhangu, Jon Woodside and Carlos Flores shared this year’s Food Idol award for Breakout Food Activist. This award recognizes an individual whose action to change food policy has led him/her to stand up for food justice and good food policy change. This year’s award winners are small food businesses and food vendors whose joint presentation to City Council was part of a pivotal campaign to the achievement of Toronto’s new street food regulations.


The Sweet New Initiative award was presented to Young Somali Growers, an urban agriculture program developed this year by the Somali Immigrant Aid Organization (SIAO). Led by Tare Egbedi, this youth driven program established a community garden - the Weston King Neighbourhood Center’s Garden - in a disused parking lot, with only a shoestring budget, volunteer labour and mostly donated tools and supplies.


Michelle German was honoured as a Food Forward Honourary Lifetime Member, for her years of dedication and commitment to good food advocacy. A long-time food advocate at City Hall, German has served in the past as a board member at Food Forward and is outgoing chair of the Toronto Youth Food Policy Council. 


Ursula Conlon was given the Food Forward Outstanding Member Award. The pair was recognized for their instrumental role in establishing the Food Action Hub, as well as their individual contributions towards advancing Food Forward’s mission to create a better city through food.

Congraulations and THANK YOU to all of Toronto's food actionists!

Photos by Pat Anderson


Food Forward Turns Four!

An evening to visit our new Food Action Hub (2 Homewood Avenue at Carlton St.) and try some of TO's best new movable food + drink while you hang out with your favourite foodies.

Tickets Here

Food + Drink

Winners announced of the 2014 #FoodIdol Awards VOTE HERE!

  • Breakout Food Activist
  • Spicy New Venture
  • Sweet New Initiative
  • Food Forward Outstanding Member

Anniversary Membership Discounts!

 Tickets Here 

Grab tickets early - we have a modest sized place & patio so the party may sell out. Tweet #FFTurns4.



Food Idol Awards 2014!

Food Forward's Food Idol Awards celebrate outstanding contributions by food actionists  among our volunteers, Toronto community members, projects, and businesses – focused on healthy food and communities that are inclusive, diverse, ethical, local, and resilient. As the place where Torontonians meet to create a better City through food, we are asking you to help us identify and celebrate new efforts and results that are especially deserving of community recognition. 

Awards will be announced at our 4th Anniversary Party on August 14 at the new Food Action Hub. Please see the brief call for nominations for our 2014 awards:

Nominations are invited in the following categories:

Breakout Food Activist Award – Recognizes an individual whose desire for action to change food policy has led him/her to community organizing or standing up for food justice/good food policy change within business, institutions, or government.

Spicy New Venture Award – Recognizes a food-related business or entrepreneur whose recent work has led to the development of a delicious venture contributing significantly to increase good food, food justice, and/or good food jobs expansion in one or more Toronto neighbourhoods.

Sweet New Initiative Award – Recognizes an organization, group, or partnership whose recent work has led to the development of an initiative contributing significantly to increase good food, food justice, and/or community food security in one or more Toronto neighbourhoods.

Food Forward Outstanding Member Award – Recognizes the commitment and contributions of a Food Forward individual member towards our mission, by supporting the design and implementation of our initiatives, development, capacity, and/or outreach. Also considers independent work the individual has contributed to related good food projects or policies through education, advocacy, and connecting.

Toronto Food Champion Award – Recognizes the commitment and contributions of a community member who has worked hard to advance a better Toronto through good food, food justice, and/or community food security in our neighbourhoods or communities. Their work may have been as a volunteer or employee of an organization, or through their own leadership efforts.

Criteria & Qualifications

The selection committee will be looking for good food work that is practical, visionary, and innovative.

We are considering work that puts a focus on food and communities that are inclusive, dieverse, ethical, local, or resilient). We also recognize contribution of efforts to good food jobs and community economic development in Toronto.

As we recognize new leadership, work on the initiative should have begun or significantly carried out in the last two years.

We know that good food work and non-profit/for-profit lines are blurring across lines of innovation, so please apply to the category you feel your nominee fits best.

Nominators should not nominate themselves or a project they have had a significant role in organizing. Individuals may make more than one nomination and in any category. Decisions of the committee will be final.

Decision-making committee

Food Forward Board of Directors

Awards Night

Awards will be presented on August 14 at Food Forward's fourth anniversary celebration and awards night. Awardees will receive delicious prizes, congraultations, and positive media/social media coverage from our community.

Get your tickets: http://ffturns4.eventbrite.com


Tell us briefly about the person or project and how they’ve been successful in their good food work, reflecting on the awards criteria outlined above, and answering the points below

Deadline is by the end of the day, Sunday August 3, 2012.

Email your submission to: info@pushfoodforward.com

Please include the name of the award and nominee in the subject line, and: 

- Your name and email/phone contact

- Name of nominee and email/phone contact

- What was the inspiration of the founders to start this project or work? (100 words)

- In what two ways has or will this project/business/person demonstrate a committment to good food, food justice, community food security, or good food jobs? (150 words)

- If you had to choose, what is the single best example of the impact of this project/business/person? (100 words), and for the grant, how will you use the money? (200 words)

- Website/social media and email/phone contact for nominee


Building Roots primer: a food vision for Toronto neighbourhoods

Innovating Food in new Toronto housing developments

The development of community and commercial food infrastructure in new housing developments in the City of Toronto would bring about several benefits:

 - halt the creation of “food deserts” in new housing development/neighbourhoods and support food availability in existing ones;

address the growing interest of community members to be active in community food projects;

support the animation of diverse Toronto neighbourhoods with stronger community engagement and cohesion;

-  increase the availability of healthy, sustainable, and accessible food options, particularly in lower income communities;

create job opportunities for entrepreneurs, especially low income and newcomers, to grow, cook, and sell food;

 -  support struggling community food programs with greater resources and increase Toronto’s leadership in the local food movement.


The type of infrastructure needed to be built will depend on the interest of the community surrounding a development; the needs coming from new housing based on its scale; existing needs of the community; and the size and type of building(s) and surrounding areas.

Food infrastructure can come in the form of services for future building residents, or those that are accessible in benefit of the broader community. Developers can be involved in building infrastructure as part of the development, encouraging certain types of use such as retail, or partnering with community associations, building managers, residents, or other organizations and social ventures to create good uses of space or fund spaces in nearby facilities.

Types of infrastructure can include:

- Grocery stores, other food retail (green grocers, cultural food stores, street food, grab and go), a community café (see St. James Town Cafe) or food co-ops (like Parkdale’s West End Food Co-op);

- Community gardens or allotments gardens, with infrastructure for mid-scale composting, which could exist on a rooftop, private land, or nearby public space;

- Unit-focused projects, like supporting composting and design for balcony gardening;

- Planting and maintenance of fruit trees and other edible landscapes;

- Community and commercial kitchen space;

- A multi-purpose food or community hub that supports community programming that incorporates several of the above components and infrastructures.

The Daniels Corporation was a significant partner with community agencies and the City of Toronto in building food infrastructure into new housing and surrounding lands in Regent Park. Food projects include rooftop food gardens, a grocery store, and Paintbox Bistro, a social enterprise restaurant, café and caterer. The re-development of the neighbourhood will is now seeing a park with community gardens, a farmer’s market, and a bake oven. The developer has been a partner and funder of local agencies and the Regent Park Food Partnership in this work. Food initiatives will also be incorporated into Alexandra Park and Lawrence Heights revitalizations and smaller TCHC re-developments, with community advocacy working to prioritize their needs.

Community and rooftop gardens are also being built with the support of developers. The Davie Village Community Garden was created by Prima Properties in Vancouver in a space that has the intention of being developed, but will take significant time. Local policy and consultation with the community gave way to the decision to create a community garden on the space.

Individual projects can be supported by neighbourhood advocates, organizations, and city councillors, and in partnership with developers. The development of food infrastructure could also be supported by City of Toronto policy in various ways, such as by ensuring food access as part of planning for growth in the official plan, similar to current planning for employment or transit; community and local sustainable food initiatives as part of neighbourhood plans (secondary plans, social developments plans); Toronto Green Standard checklist; and/or community food infrastructure projects as part of Section 37 community benefits guidelines. Food infrastructure can also be built into neighbourhood planning guidelines and in the provincial policy statement.