an alliance for healthy food and farming

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Sustain Ontario is the outcome of a two-year process led by the Metcalf Foundation that brought 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 2009, Sustain Ontario hired its first director and has since been the unifying voice for food and farming interests across the province. In 2015, after a period of strategic visioning, Sustain Ontario became an incorporated not-for-profit organization. As a not-for-profit, Sustain has the freedom to take action as an independent organization.

History Highlights

  • In 2020-2021, we addressed some challenges brought on by the pandemic. As a few examples — we launched a Buy Local Food Across Ontario website to support regional buy-local initiatives; our Community Growing Network helped to successfully advocate for the safe re-opening of community gardens; our Buy Local Food Network, in collaboration with Farmers’ Markets Ontario, successfully advocated for the safe reopening of farmers’ markets; our Edible Education Network hosted webinars to bring folks together to discuss how school food programs were adapting to school closures and restrictions (the Network launched a monthly School Food newsletter, too). In 2021, Sustain also employed doctoral researcher Kirsti Tasala to support three different regions via the project Catalysing Network Change: Exploring Practical Tools to Spark Food Network Action — with funding support from Mitacs and Innoweave. Sustain also collaboratively developed and released a Policy Brief to support Bill 216 (Food Literacy for Students Act, 2020). And we continued to work with Farm to Cafeteria Canada on supporting farm to school efforts, which included participating in the release of a Farm to School Canada Evaluation Framework.
  • In 2019, Sustain Ontario brought an exciting new format to Bring Food Home, partnering with various groups to host multiple regional conferences that covered diverse topics, with two of the events led by Indigenous regional groups. Read more about the four events on the Bring Food Home website and check out our YouTube channel for videos.
  • In 2018 and 2019 the Sustain Ontario board has been working on strategic planning and a redistributed leadership model for the organization. We remain focused on supporting networking, capacity building and advocating for healthy food and farming in Ontario.
  • In 2018 and 2019 Sustain Ontario continued to partner with Farm to Cafeteria Canada to deliver and support an additional 11 Farm to School grants across Ontario as a partner in the Farm to School: Canada Digs In! initiative.
  • In 2017 Sustain Ontario put on a successful Bring Food Home Event. You can read the final report, “Good Food and Farming Ideas for Ontario”.  This report summarizes the policy papers prepared by each of Sustain Ontario’s networks.
  • In December 2016 Sustain Ontario’s Networks identified initiatives they wanted to focus on. The networks cooperated with student researchers throughout 2017 to create policy position papers, in order to identify gaps, set direction and strengthen the Ontario food system.
  • In 2016 Sustain Ontario began a partnership with Farm to Cafeteria Canada to deliver and support 21 three-year Farm to School grants across Ontario as a part of the Farm to School Canada Grants program (which later became a part of the Farm to School: Canada Digs In! initiative).
  • In 2016 Sustain Ontario became a partner on George Brown College’s 4-year Generating Success for Farm to School Programs initiative to determine and share best practices for Farm to School programs.
  • In 2016, we hosted a networking event called Cultivating Our Capacity a day that brought together community leaders and municipal staff from across the province to engage in generating initiatives to help strengthen local food policy and systems. The event lead to the launch of two new networks the Sustainable Food Enterprise Network and the Food Justice Network.
  • In 2016 Sustain Ontario launched the Food Initiatives Greenhouse, an online resource sharing library.
  • In 2015 Sustain Ontario officially became an independent not-for-profit
  • In 2014 Sustain Ontario was a founding member of the Coalition for School Food (a network of Food Secure Canada). Since that time Sustain Ontario has continued to support the efforts of the Coalition to achieve a National, Universal School Food Program.
  • 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.
  • 2012-13 Growing Good Food Ideas Videos launch at Queen’s Park in 2013 with the Premier of Ontario
  • Recommendations are developed for the Local Food Act in 2012
  • Development and advancement of the Ontario Food and Nutrition Strategy (OFNS) in 2012
  • In 2011, Sustain Ontario was a founding member of Farm to Cafeteria Canada. Sustain Ontario proceeded to participate on F2CC’s Advisory Committee and acted as the point person advancing farm to school in Ontario.
  • Sustain Ontario launches Vote ON Food campaign in 2011 that urges policymakers in Ontario to support local food legislation
  • Publication of Menu 2020: Ten Good Food Ideas for Ontario in 2010
  • 2010 marks the first Bring Food Home Conference: Connecting Ontario Farm and Food Networks
  • In 2009 Sustain Ontario hires its first Director and expands its mandate from Southern Ontario to province-wide
  • Sustain Ontario is formally incorporated in 2008
  • In 2007 working meetings were convened by the Metcalf Foundation to explore the possibility of a cooperative, integrated network with the goal of transforming food and agriculture at a system-wide level

Annual Reports

Governance Documents 

SO Governance

MEMBERS of Sustain Ontario come from diverse parts of the food and farming sectors and have a common aim of working towards food systems in Ontario as part of Sustain Ontario’s mission. Members drive the work of Sustain Ontario by sharing their ideas, perspectives, and energy to advance Sustain Ontario’s mission. 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 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 mission. Sustain Ontario’s STAFF implement the strategic directions informed by the Membership and set by the Board of Directors.


Carolyn Webb

Ontario Edible Education Network Coordinator

Carolyn has coordinated the Ontario Edible Education Network, a community of practice that is working to connect children and youth with healthy food systems, since 2013. In this role she brings together individuals and groups to share resources, ideas, and experience; coordinates joint projects; and supports efforts across the province to get children and youth eating, growing, cooking, celebrating, and learning about healthy, local and sustainably produced food. As Farm to Cafeteria Canada’s Regional Lead for Farm to School in Ontario, Carolyn supports students and school communities to make informed food choices while contributing to vibrant, sustainable, economically viable regional food systems that support the health of people, place and planet.

Carolyn studied Environmental Science at the University of Guelph and received her Masters degree in Adult Education and Community Development from OISE, University of Toronto. She currently spends her free time keeping up with 2 young boys and helping them develop a love for good food.

Josie Di Felice


Josie has been working with Sustain Ontario for several years now on various communications and school food initiatives. Since receiving an honours degree in media studies from the University of Guelph, she has been working with a number of environmental non-profits across the GTA over the last decade, advocating for healthy local food systems and food literacy education.


Phil Mount

Born and raised on a dairy farm in Ottawa, Phil pursued an interdisciplinary education that included law, sociology, silviculture, graphic design, farming, political economy, and web marketing. Since completing doctoral studies at the University of Guelph, focusing on regional food systems development, Phil has served as Research Associate at the Centre for Sustainable Food Systems, Associate Editor at Canadian Food Studies, and principal investigator of Shared Opportunities on Institutional Lands (—exploring the intersections of food production, health and education—and is now also Associate Director of Just Food, Ottawa.