City to Country

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On September 22nd, 2011 as part of the Metcalf Foundation’s 50th anniversary grants, Sustain Ontario, Toronto Food Policy Council, the Greater Toronto Area Agricultural Action Committee, Foodshare Toronto, the Foodshed Project and World Crop Project hosted “City to Country,” a day-long mobile conference featuring 12 separate bus tours that explored the challenges and successes of 12 good food ideas.


Take a virtual tour or read a digital story from the day’s events! We’ve posted these videos and blog posts for you to share.

Thanks to Orla, for the first blog about Supply Management:

Farmers Feed Cities (and make music?)


See below for a list of the tour themes and descriptions:

  • World Crops and Foods: Follow long beans, eggplants and okra from country to city with Peter Mitchell and Emily Van Halem.  At a commercial farm in Copetown piloting world crops, meet Vineland Research Station’s Ahmed Bilal; follow the food to a distribution hub in Brampton and then meet gardeners making it happen growing world crops on a small-scale at Ecosource’s Punjabi Seniors Garden.


  • Growing New Farmers: It’s hard making it as a farmer these days and it’s even harder starting from scratch. Learn how new farmers are sprouting up in different places. See Zephyr Organics’ family succession planning; visit Albion Hills Community Farm’s educational programs and market garden; Farmstart’s McVean Incubator Farm where new farmers can start small and grow; and finally check out Erica Lemieux’ City Seed urban farming business.


  • Environmental Services and Farming: Farmers and gardeners are truly stewards of the environment. Join Credit Valley Conservation and ALUS’s Bryan Gylvesy at several Caledon farms and Sheridan Nurseries Georgetown site to learn about the environmental services farmers can help steward. Then, return to the city to visit Sabrina Malach from PACT to see how even city gardeners can be innovative pollinator protectors.


  • Urban Agriculture–From Rows to Rooftops: From vegetables to eggs, learn how Toronto’s urban agriculturalists are growing food in every nook and cranny of the city. Join Not Far From the Tree’s Laurel Atkinson and The Stop’s Liz Curran in visiting Fresh City Farms, city beekeepers, Ben Nobleman Park Community Orchard, the Oriole Community Garden, Access Alliance’s new rooftop garden and a special backyard guest.


  • Rebuilding the Middle – Distribution: Even though good food is grown locally, that doesn’t mean it always gets to us. Join West End Food Coop’s Ayal Dinner and Ontario Natural Food Coop’s Hannah Renglich in visiting Toronto’s most hopping food hubs.  Visit the Ontario Food Terminal, Ontario Natural Food Coop, Foodshare’s Good Food Box warehouse, West End Food Coop’s community cannery and the Dufferin Grove market and bring your close-toed shoes!


  • Rebuilding the Middle – Processing: The food and farming sectors is the number 1 employer in the GTA! And yet processors dedicated to local products face many challenges. Join Lauren Baker of the Toronto Food Policy Council and Hayley Lapalme from My Sustainable Canada on a tour of some of the GTA’s most innovative food processors including a vegetable processing plant in Holland Marsh, Select Fine Foods meat processing, Ontario’s Own preserves and a new plant by family-owned Wing’s dedicated to purchasing Ontario products to make their traditional condiments such as soy sauce.


  • Introduction to Supply Management: Supply management is a system that controls the quantity of milk, eggs, chickens and turkeys produced by farmers in order to assure quality and control prices for farmers. Join GTA Agricultural Action Committee’s Janet Horner and Melissa Matlow from the World Society for the Protection of Animals in visiting a Barkey’s dairy farm, Verified Eggs’ new cage-free demonstration farm, Coopers Organic CSA Farm and a small-scale dairy to understand the good, the bad and the yummy of Ontario’s supply management system!


  • Plan for the Future of Food: A local, sustainable food system needs good planning and community engagement. Follow Toronto Food Strategy’s Seodhna Keown in discovering the benefits of good planning at Belain farm, a farm protected with the help of Ontario Farmland Trust, to Spirit Tree Cidery, a successful Caledon processor that had to re-zone with the help of Region of Peel and Caledon planners, to Bathurst and Finch’s Food Action Team’s garden and community hub.  We will end with a presentation from North York Harvest Food Bank about their community food planning tools and their feasibility study for a Food and Distribution Hub in Lawrence Heights. Architecture and urban design firm du Toit Allsopp Hillier will also be on-hand to talk about their work with North York Harvest as well as current and past projects with Toronto Region Conservation Authority and the Artscape Wychwood Barns.


  • Good Food for Health: Facilitators Sarah Vogelzang from Toronto Public Health and Caitlin Langlois Green from the Foodshed Project will lead you to sites where food is used to nourish both mind and body. Follow them from Caledon’s Peace Ranch back to the city for more healthful insights.


  • Local Food Procurement: Join Toronto Environment Office’s Jodi Callan and Food Forward’s Linda Swanston for an experiential explanation of how local food gets into our public institutions. Meet Paul from 100 km foods and partner grower Greenbelt Greenhouses and follow the food to the kitchen at Scarborough Hospital where chef Joshna Maharaj prepares healthy meals for patients. Finally, join Local Food Plus’s Chris Trussell at a local food festival at the University of Toronto, one of the first innovative institutional deals was brokered.


  • Community Food Programs: Mary Roufail of Foodshare, Darcy Higgins from Food Forward and Andrew Bieler from the Durham Food Policy Council will host a tour of community food programs, from the Whitby-Ajax community garden with speakers from Feed the Need and Land over Landings; to the East Scarborough Storefront where Sahar Vermezyari will walk through plans for thier Eco Food Hub; and a tour of Thornecliffe Park by the Women’s Committee program coordinator, Sabina Ali, who will show off their new community Tandoor oven. Also included in the day is the Stop Community Food Centre’s Green Barn where Rhonda Teitle-Payne will lead you through the many programs offered there.  Join us to see how food brings together and builds community


  • Food in Schools: Join Foodshare’s Meredith Hayes and Green Thumbs Growing Kids’s Sunday Harrison for a tour of food in schools. Check out the largest student nutrition program at Thornecliffe Elementary School followed by a tour of Bendale highschool’s urban farm, greenhouse and amazing commercial kitchen, to Winchester’s garden club and curriculum-linked educational activities graduating at George Brown’s new canning initiative.

If you want to share your thoughts and/or photos from the day, please send an email to: or call 647-839-4030.