City to Country Virtual Tour #9: Urban Agriculture

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Author: Carolyn

Posted: August 12, 2012

Categories: City to Country / Food in the News / Growing Good Food Ideas / Virtual Tours

by Abra Snider, general manager at Fresh City Farms

Recently I had the opportunity to participate in City to Country, an inspiring and engaging day-long event comprised of twelve bus tours that explored the challenges and successes of twelve good food ideas (initially presented Menu 2020: Ten Good Food Ideas for Ontario, commissioned by the Metcalf Foundation as part of their Food Solution series). I was astounded by the diversity and multi-dimensionality of the tours and wish I could have been in twelve places at once!

City to Country: Access Alliance AccessPoint on Danforth Rooftop Garden from Sustain Ontario on VimeoLara Mrosovsky, the Green Access community animator at the Access Alliance rooftop garden, shows the Urban Agriculture group around the roof. With solar water heating and rooftop garden beds, Access Alliance offers an innovative approach to community

I was part of the Urban Agriculture – From Rows to Rooftops tour, both as a participant and as a tour leader for Fresh City. Not Far From the Tree’s Laurel Atkinson and The Stop’s Liz Curran facilitated our tour as we visited Access Alliance’s new rooftop garden, the Oriole Community Garden, a secret backyard farm, Ben Nobleman Park Community Orchard, city beekeepers, and Fresh City Farms.

City to Country: Oriole Park Community Garden from Sustain Ontario on Vimeo.Luanne Rayvale of Victoria Park Hub walks the Urban Agriculture tour through the Oriole Community Garden (formerly known as the Peanut) that is coordinated by the Women’s Working Centre and shows off the many different garden plots.

City to Country really got me thinking about the potential urban-rural as well as urban-urban food and farming relationships we had developed, and that we could develop. At Fresh City, we already combine city and country in our Fresh City box, by building a produce box combining produce grown in and around Toronto. We have also been building urban-to-urban relationships, buying produce from groups such as African Food Basket on a weekly basis. I think “City to Country” is at the heart urban agriculture for it promotes connection and fosters best practices; and, the reality is, neither could exist without the other!

City to Country: Toronto Chickens from Sustain Ontario on Vimeo.  Toronto Chickens advocate talks about why she likes keeping backyard chickens. She gets three eggs a day and they eat grass and clover increasing the amount of omega-3 fatty acids in the eggs. She keeps them protected from raccoons at night in their “egglu.” While it is still against the bylaw, she is lucky to have good neighbours who don’t complain.

It wasn’t only the projects we got to visit that were inspiring; it was also the group of people on our bus. I had an incredible time talking to new folks, bonding over food and agriculture, and making some great new connections. I especially enjoyed FoodShare’s Focus on Food Interns for their enthusiasm and energy. Fresh City Farms is hoping to work with a couple of these interns in the next few weeks, which really goes to show that great connections were made via City to Country!

City to Country: A visit to Ben Nobleman Community Orchard from Sustain Ontario on Vimeo.Susan Poizner of Growing for Green describes the challenges and vision for the Ben Nobleman community orchard on the City to Country Urban Agriculture Tour on September 22nd, 2011.

It was a beautiful day, meticulously organized and perfectly executed. I doubt I’m the only one who walked away buzzing with positive energy and a million new ideas for change.

City to Country: A visit with Fresh City Farms from Sustain Ontario on VimeoFresh City Farms general manager, Abra Snider, and senior farmer Damian Adjodha describe the Fresh City Farms vision, challenges and day-to-day operations. Damian describes his approach to planting, describing how to make the most of the season by using cold-weather crops in the fall.