When I decided to move back to Toronto last year from a rural west coast community, I knew that I wanted to get a good handle on the urban agriculture scene. I soon found myself on the website of Fresh City – a consortium of farmers, food producers, and educators with a vision to empower people to make conscious food choices.
When I started to work at TAS a few months later, I was thrilled to be able to begin working with Fresh City to animate TAS’s temporarily vacant property on King Street West into “The Farm Lot” – a vibrant urban farming demonstration centre designed to remind people about the multiple possibilities for growing food in the city. This partnership is very important to us. It represents an ideological partnership in our shared belief that city farming is an integral component of healthy cities. The partnership also represents a pragmatic collaboration of two for-profit businesses bringing their own unique resources to achieve a common goal for the public good.
At its core, Fresh City runs a local, organic produce delivery program using as much Toronto-grown produce as possible. Weekly deliveries are supplied by a number of small scale Toronto-based farmers and food processors. During colder months, Fresh City farmers grow sprouts and salad greens at their greenhouse in Downsview Park, and source ecologically grown produce from farms in Southern Ontario and abroad.
In addition to the produce delivery program, Fresh City runs a number of city farming workshops (e.g. organic balcony gardening, advanced garden design, growing and harvesting flowers, etc), and more intensive member farmer programs and internships.
Fresh city’s farmer training and education programs are based on the belief that growing food in the city is a “win, win, win proposition for several reasons“. From the development of public education opportunities, local job creation, and a reduction in food transport energy requirements, city farming just makes sense. Of course, the folks at Fresh City are always quick to remind us of the irreplaceable role of rural farmers and the necessity of farmland preservation. Nonetheless, this is an exciting time for those who believe that urban agriculture is an important part of the overall equation.
TAS could not agree more that the positive social, cultural, economic, and ecological benefits of urban food production cannot be overlooked. In large urban centres we face a number of challenges related to inequality, human health, and social exclusion. Growing food in the city – for fun or for profit – presents potential solutions to these challenges, and we are proud to have partnered with this incredible group of people. Can’t wait to see what we create together in 2014!