About Sustain Ontario
Who We Are
Sustain Ontario is a province-wide, cross-sectoral alliance that promotes healthy food and farming. Sustain takes a collaborative approach to research, policy development, and action by addressing intersecting issues related to healthy food and local sustainable agriculture. Sustain Ontario is working toward a food system that is healthy, ecological, equitable, and financially viable.
Since its inception as a project of the Tides Canada Initiative, Sustain has grown to 430 members representing diverse sectors, including farming & farmer training, education, health & nutrition, legal aid, and service & retail. Sustain Ontario has served as the meeting point for these diverse voices, who together have shared experience and knowledge and also identified opportunities for collaboration within the Ontario food system.
Members, guided by the strategic direction of the Advisory Council, have also worked to identify and develop strategic opportunities for transforming Ontario’s food system through education, advocacy, and policy development.
MEMBERS of Sustain Ontario represent diverse sectors of food and farming and have a common aim of working toward a sustainable food system in Ontario. Interested members have the opportunity to assume responsibility for organizing and leading working groups.
WORKING GROUPS are self-organizing teams led by leaders from among our members. Through working groups, different members and supporters can bring together knowledge and expertise in developing strategic activities and initiatives. Current active working groups include Meat & Abattoirs, Municipal/Regional Food Policy, and Sustainable Restaurants.
The ADVISORY COUNCIL is comprised of sector leaders who support the collective interest and cohesion of Sustain Ontario’s members by providing a clear vision and strategic analysis.
The STEERING COMMITTEE is comprised of 4-7 members of the Advisory Council. The role of the Steering Committee is to provide administrative support to the Director and ensures the accountability of the alliance.
The CO-CHAIRS work with the Director to determine the strategic direction of Sustain’s programs, liaise with the Steering Committee and Advisory Council and build membership. The Co-Chairs also act as spokespersons for Sustain Ontario.
TIDES CANADA provides human resources and financial support to Sustain Ontario. The TCI Board has full governing, legal, and fiduciary responsibility for Sustain Ontario.
Sustain Ontario’s STAFF supports the Director in carrying out activities of the alliance to build on existing energy, disseminate information, convene members and build membership, support working groups, and document successes and challenges.
Sustain Ontario’s history
Sustain Ontario is a project of the Tides Canada Initiative (TCI), which provides human resources and financial support to the organization. Through the TCI, Sustain Ontario has charitable status. The charitable registration number is BN 130560188RR0001. Sustain Ontario is the outcome of a two year process led by the Metcalf Foundation bringing together groups working on food and agriculture issues in Southern Ontario.
Participants in the discussion led by the Metcalf Foundation identified a need for collaborative policy and advocacy work at the provincial level. In June 2009, Sustain Ontario hired its first director and has since served as the unifying voice for food and farming interests across the province.
Over the last four years, Sustain Ontario has been working to remove barriers to positive food system reform, developing research, policy, and action priorities. Sustain currently boasts over 400 members, groups and individuals with a common interest in food system reform.
- Working meetings convened by the Metcalf Foundation to explore the possibility of a cooperative, integrated network with the goal of transforming food and agriculture and a system-wide level
- Sustain Ontario is formally incorporated
- Publication of Food Connects us All, which laid the foundation for a broader discussion of how Ontario might move toward a truly local sustainable food system
- Sustain Ontario hires its first Director and expands its mandate from Southern Ontario to province-wide
- Publication of Menu 2020: Ten Good Food Ideas for Ontario
- Inaugural Bring Food Home: Connecting Ontario Farm and Food Networks Infrastructure conference
- First Annual General Meeting
- Sustain Ontario recognized as part of Tides Top 10 of 2010
- Second edition of Bring Food Home: Preparing the Ground for a Sustainable Food System
- First Sustain Ontario Program Coordinator is hired
- Sustain Ontario launches Vote ON Food campaign, urging policymakers in Ontario to support local food legislation
- Good Food Ideas Kids launched to highlight current food and nutrition issues facing kids across the province and explore creative ways to create healthier environments
- First edition of Growing Good Food Ideas, a series of videos produced in collaboration with Powerline Films profiling food innovators from across Ontario
A report encompassing the four years of Sustain Ontario’s work is forthcoming. Reports will be produced on an annual basis in the future.
More information on Sustain Ontario’s working groups and projects can be found under the Our Work section of this website. Below are some of the highlights of Sustain Ontario’s work:
- The Growing Good Food Ideas series of videos. Produced in collaboration with Powerline Films, these videos profile food innovators and entrepreneurs from all across Ontario. From community garden and urban agriculture projects to community food programs addressing food security issues, these videos are sure to inspire.
- Beginning in 2011, Sustain Ontario began hosting the biennial Bring Food Home conference, comprised of speakers, panels, workshops, networking opportunities and action-planning sessions. The conference, which will have its second edition in November 2013, provides a forum to build the capacity of Ontario’s local food network and plan actions directing Ontario toward a better food system.
- Sustain Ontario and its members have worked to positively influence the development of a provincial Local Food Act. Through consultations with food and farming groups across Ontario, Sustain Ontario has produced an LFA Statement of Purpose and a series of accompanying policy backgrounders highlighting ways for this legislation to address social, economic, health, and educational issues.
- In 2013, Sustain Ontario launched the Ontario Edible Education Network, bringing together students, educators, community groups, parents, farmers, food businesses, and administrators to facilitate efforts to get Ontario’s children eating, cooking, growing, and learning about local, healthy sustainable food.