Darcy Higgins's blog

Apr
15

Fruit trees and Food Nation at #SummerFoodKickoff

Do you think Toronto's next Mayor and Council should create a better city through food?

Food Forward is presenting Food Nation! This time at the University of Toronto as part of the #SummerFoodKickoff with our partners.

Come learn about the movement that brings Food Justice to Toronto and find out ways to get involved in the most exciting election campaign in Toronto at out Food Nation Town Hall

What: Learn about food justice and how to tackle it in Toronto. Discuss and get involved.

When: 1-2PM Friday April 25th

Where: East Common Room, Hart House (7 Hart House Circle/Harbord Street)

Let people know you're coming!
Spread the word on Twitter (#FoodNationTO), Facebook, and endorse our platform, volunteer or donate: Join Food Nation.

But Wait, there's more!

A very exciting project from our partners at Transition Toronto...

Treemobile is pretty much the day-time version of the Batmobile. Instead of delivering rough street justice, it delivers food justice and climate justice. Instead of seeking revenge on crime, it’s working toward repairing damage done by December’s ice storm. 

Through Transition Toronto’s Treemobile project, Torontonians with a place to plant can order food-bearing trees and shrubs online and the Treemobile will deliver them on the weekend of April 26th*. 

With just a few clicks, you can have a plant that will provide you with delicious apples, cherries, pears, raspberries, goji berries, hazelnuts, plums, or any of the other varieties available. The Treemobile website also provides guidance on which plants are appropriate for your situation, and how to give your plant the best chance of growing from infancy to food-bearing maturity. 

Aside from providing you with beautiful, tasty food, the Treemobile project has plenty of benefits for you and Toronto. Bearing locally produced food means fewer food miles and lower grocery bills. As saplings and young shrubs ready to grow, the plants delivered will take carbon dioxide out of the air and store it where it’s not going to harm alter the climate. Trees can also shade and cool properties, reducing summer air conditioning bills, and new trees are just what Toronto needs to replace some of the beautiful tree canopy that was lost in the ice storm. Left over Treemobile stock will be donated to community properties to provide food for all. Treemobile is great for you, for Toronto’s environment, and for Toronto communities. It’s everything Transition Toronto wants a project to be.

The Treemobile project is designed to minimize cost barriers, with the most expensive item being $42, and the least being $5. (DON’T FORGET TO CHOOSE A DELIVERY OPTION, at most an additional $5 charge, with pick-up being free!). This is not a for-profit project. We just want to see more trees in the ground and more accessible, local, healthful food in Toronto.

If you want to see the same, and want your own extremely local food, go to www.transitiontreemobile.org and choose the right plant for you. 

*If the planting site is in the delivery zone. Otherwise, plants can be picked up at one of three locations in Toronto. Also, if the ground doesn’t de-frost early enough, delivery may occur on the weekend of May 3rd.

Apr
3

Street Food Legalized!

City Council has just voted to allow diverse street food in a number of ways.

A big THANK YOU to all Torontonians who have responded to our requests to contact your councillors over the years and share opportunities for good food.

The decision is a new start... but we've come very far after working on this issue for nearly three years.

Though we would have liked to see more support for new food vendors, we were pleased a motion passed responding to our joint request this week that street food applications not be denied because of a single objection.

A food cart in Lawrence Heights? A food truck on a Queen St lot? A truck with produce and ready to eat lunches in the burbs? Now permitted.

If you're looking to start a street food business for 2014 - now's the time - contact us (info@pushfoodforward.com) so we can help you figure out the options and push food forward together!

What’s changed as of today and recent decisions

+ A new by-law for the entire City, finally allowing carts and trucks to be legal in many parts of the City - removes by-laws that banned street food from places like Scarborough, Etobicoke and much more

New food carts can apply for spots anywhere in the City except for three most downtown wards and can sell a range of foods

      + Food trucks allowed to apply anywhere in the City, with a number of exceptions, particularly not within 50m distance from a restaurant

      + Carts and trucks now allowed in private parking lots, as per agreements with the landowners - big opportunity!

      + Carts and trucks may be allowed in parks as per agreements with Parks or other City spaces

      + Likely more freedom for alternative types of vendors like mobile produce trucks

 

Food Forward’s street food timeline:

Thanks on getting this going is owed to many advocates, councillors and City staff!

Here's our timeline of advocacy and results on street food.

June 2011 – City Council kills A La Cart program, staff group forms to create new street food proposals (to report before the end of 2011).

October 2011 – Food Forward hosts town hall on food jobs bringing street food leaders together for the first time – leads to front page Toronto Star article on mobile produce vending

March 2012 – Town hall panelists and others launch the Toronto Street Food Project calling to allow diverse street food – Torontonians react with thousands of letters and tweets to councillors asking for street food. Street Food Block Party advocates for street food with many councillors attending.

June 2012 – Staff update councillors on planning. Councillors hear recommendations from Toronto Street Food Project moved by Darcy Higgins to eliminate unfair street food employee fees and allow for food trucks and carts in private lots - Councillors vote for a report back on our motion.

Expanded menus legalized for existing hot dog vendors. (Final street food decisions to be due in November 2012)

May 2013 - Report delayed again, Food Forward launches illegal fruit stand in front of City Hall, bringing front page attention back to the issue.

July 2013 - Councillors work with several food trucks, organizers, Food Forward and Parks staff to allow food trucks in some City Parks.

November 2013 - City staff get back on track with consultations and study on street food, and councillors vote to remove unfair fees for employees of street food carts and trucks.

April 2014 - Final debate on street food leaves many restrictions on trucks and no carts downtown, but finally passes comprehensive new by-law to allowing trucks and carts around the City.

Environmental motions and future reviews passed, along with a motion prompted by Food Forward and our members that eliminates automatic immediate rejection of food truck zones from a single objection.

 

Mar
31

Letter to City Council on street food decision

As residents of Toronto who are founders of new organizations, small businesses and non-profits involved in the City’s growing food movement, we want to write in support of opening up Toronto’s street food. We are some of the little guys in food doing new things, and helping others to start small businesses and create opportunities


We've often seen entrepreneurs face City rules that hinder rather than help us to create opportunities and jobs. That’s why it is exciting to see new street food policies that would finally harmonize by-laws across the City to allow for easier access to sell diverse food. Until now, there’s been nothing but red tape.

 

We hope to see policies that allow new street food adopted at this week’s Council meeting based on the street food study approved at Licensing and Standards Committee. But we have two concerns:


A) The proposals keep a moratorium on any new food carts downtown, and B) they allow a single complaint to immediately deny a new food truck or cart, with appeals going to Community Council.

 

Many of the new vendors we work with won’t be in a place to spend tens of thousands on a food truck. Meanwhile, residents, workers and tourists downtown want opportunities to try diverse foods, more than hot dogs, on the street. Torontonians are making incredible food. Young people and new Canadians should have the opportunity to start with a business with a cart and provide good food at good prices.

 

Since new trucks and carts already have to be a significant distance from restaurants, there should be a clear process for them that doesn’t lead to denial of approval after one objection. The proposed process with a denial being sent to appeal at community council would create time and headaches for everyone.

 

Therefore, we are asking that councillors amend the staff report as follows:

A)   11. That City Council lift the moratorium on R53 Sidewalk Vending Permits for all food vendors in wards 20, 27 and 28.That in these wards the City allow up to 20 new vendor permits to be issued for the 2014 season.

B)   Chapter 740, Street Vending - Article II and Article III

That a notification of objection does not lead to a refusal of the application by the Executive Director. That Licensing and Standards will devise a process with clear and reasonable grounds for denial of permits that reflects issues of space, mobility, sanitation and related issues that can be studied by staff and reported to the applicant and objector, with opportunity for dialogue, amendments and an appeal process.


Thank you for hearing our voice on this issue. Please feel free to contact us with any questions on the matter, or ideas to create a better City through food.


Sincerely,


Hassel Aviles, Founder, Toronto Underground Market

Hillary Connolly, Founder, Food/Craft

Sang Kim, Founder, Yakitori Bar and Seoul Food Co. and Windup Bird Cafe

Evis Chirowamhangu, Founder, Mnandi Pies

Vanessa Yu, Founder, FoodSpokes and CaterToronto

Paola Solorzano, Co-Founder, Santo Pecado

Adriana Pelayo Rubio, Co-Founder, Santo Pecado

Jonathan Mikhail, Co-Founder, Fourcorners Culinary Concourse Inc.

Catherine Carriere, Co-Founder, Fourcorners Culinary Concourse Inc.

Henry Faber, Co-Founder, Bento Miso

Jennie Faber, Co-Founder, Bento Miso

Darcy Higgins, Founder, Food Forward

Mar
24

Advocating For Good Food in St. James Town

                  

Food Forward, The Toronto Youth Food Policy Council and Building Roots presents:

Advocating For Good Food in Your Community

What: St. James Town and area residents will learn how the development process works, how to communicate with city councillors and planners which will enable you to grow, cook, buy and sell food in your neighbourhood. 

When: Friday March 28, 6-8 pm

Where: Food Forward centre, 2 Homewood Ave (north side of Carlton St.)

 

Please register or ask questions to: gabilan@pushfoodforward.com or 416-459-9975. Only 20 spots available.

Foster relationships to create gardens, kitchens, food stores, farmer’s markets and community food hubs in your neighbourhood.

Refreshments will be served.

This is a free workshop. Please pass this along to anyone who would be interested. 

Thank you to the St. James Town Youth Council

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