Transforming Ontario's Food Systems Together

About Sustain Ontario

Governance | History | Annual Reports | Media Archive

Who We Are

Sustain Ontario is a province-wide, cross-sectoral alliance that promotes healthy food and farming.  Our mission is to provide coordinated support for the development of food systems throughout the province that are healthy, equitable, ecologically resilient, and financially viable through collaborative action.

On 21 August 2015, Sustain Ontario officially became an independent not-for-profit organization. Learn more about our transition and founding members of the new Sustain Ontario.

What We Do

  1. Strengthen the healthy food and farming sector by providing opportunities for Members to share their experiences, knowledge and ideas to support our collective mission,
  2. Bring Members together to bridge differences, create a better understanding of diverse viewpoints and reach agreement on collaborative action
  3. Turn policy ideas into concrete action, through research, writing, strategy development and effective advocacy, with a credible province-wide base of support.
  4. Engage with Supporters and non-Members to find areas of mutual benefit and opportunities for collaboration


MEMBERS of Sustain Ontario come from diverse sectors of food and farming and have a common aim of working towards food systems in Ontario that reflect Sustain Ontario’s vision. Members support the work of Sustain Ontario by sharing their ideas, perspectives, and energy to advance Sustain Ontario’s vision.  Members also elect the Board of Directors.

BOARD OF DIRECTORS is a group of individuals from food and farming sectors across Ontario.  It serves to provide for legal and financial governance, to set strategic direction and program priorities, and to guide and support to the Executive Director and staff of the organization.

NETWORKS are self-organizing groups that coalesce around interest in common area of food and farming.  The networks serve primarily as hubs for information sharing.  Collaboration within any given network can result in formation of a Working Group for more focused action on a given topic.

WORKING GROUPS  are self-organizing teams led by interested and engaged leaders. Working Groups are made up of Members, Supporters and other stakeholders who come together to collaborate around a particular topic relevant to Sustain Ontario’s vision. Learn more about the Constellation Model Working Structure.

Sustain Ontario’s STAFF implement the strategic directions informed by the Membership and set by the Board of Directors.

To learn more about our strategic directions, read our Theory of Change.

Sustain Ontario’s history

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. In 2013, Sustain’s alliance included 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



  • 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



  • New Membership Policy is developed, to be rolled out for 2014
  • Second round of consultations for the OFNS is conducted
  • 3rd Bring Food Home Conference: Building Bridges Together
  • Food Farms Fish and Finance Forum in Toronto
  • 2012-13 Growing Good Food Ideas Videos launch at Queen’s Park with the Premier of Ontario
  • Presentation by Sustain Ontario at the Standing Committee on Social Policy

Annual Reports

Sustain Ontario 4 Year Report (Nov 16) coverRead our first Almanac encompassing 2008 to 2013, the four years of Sustain Ontario’s work. The report was released in November 2013 at the Annual General Meeting held at Bring Food Home: Building Bridges Together. View and download PDF of the Almanac 2008-2013.

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.



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