I was very impressed to read the City of Toronto’s new GrowTO – An Urban Agriculture Action Plan for Toronto (http://www.compost.org/English/PDF/Urban_Agriculture_Toronto.pdf). When I read this action plan, I learned that:
- Urban residents are enthusiastic to be involved with food production
- Urban residents understand the value of local, healthy and sustainable food
- Urban residents want to connect with their rural food producing neighbours in a meaningful way
- Urban residents want to connect with food production globally
Below are a few quotations from this document that demonstrates the importance of integrating urban and rural food production:
“People who want to grow food are in fact often very highly motivated to do so. But if the information isn’t available to support their efforts, the results are often disappointing. In their discouragement, we lose the potential to create more urban growers and future farmers. Knowledge is essential at every stage to reward curiosity and hard work.
One of the intrinsic strengths of the urban agriculture movement is that food is a basic need—for everyone. And thus, everyone can potentially relate to any effort that makes fresh, healthy, local, nutritious, affordable, and culturally diverse food available—to everyone.
While the rural farmscape might be what immediately comes to mind, cities, too, are (and have always been) places of significant, energetic and committed food production. Urban agriculture has entered the lexicon as a way to describe a myriad of food-growing practices that are increasingly taking place in cities throughout the country and, indeed, the world. In fact, globally, it is common for a significant portion of food consumed in cities to be grown within and immediately surrounding those same cities.
Food growing enthusiasts are becoming entrepreneurs and launching new businesses and young farmers are forming co-ops, devising new models of land tenure to grow food commercially and keep the rich agricultural land often found in and around cities in production.
Urban agriculture unites constituencies of people across the broadest possible spectrum at the same time as it connects to our most basic personal and societal needs: good health, productive economies, and a sustainable environment. It provides a stepping stone for those who wish to eventually farm at a larger scale, making the transition from beginning farmer to productive farmer much easier.”
The GrowTO report also demonstrates that our urban neighbours also understand that composting and recycling is an integral part of food production. The report notes that almost all of the community gardens use organic principles in growing vegetables for personal and community use. The production and use of compost is integral to a successful urban agriculture program.
“another major hurdle to food production (particularly larger scale and commercial food production) is the issue of access to quality compost for soil amendment….by composting our plant waste and then using the compost to improve the garden’s soil, we are closing the loop between production, consumption, and waste.”
The GrowTO report also encourages connection with the larger rural farming community by endorsing the Golden Horshoe Agriculture and Agri-Food Strategy – Food and Farming Action Plan 2021. http://greenbelt.ca/sites/default/files/attachments/21/gh_food_farming_action_plan_2021_pdf_29309.pdf.
“Those involved in food and farming in the Golden Horseshoe recognized that they had common interests and that by working together they had potential to
• support economic viability for all components of the food and farming cluster;
• maintain the agricultural land base;
• build better regional connections throughout the food and farming value chain; and
• reduce regulatory barriers to enable the cluster to thrive.”
The goals of the Food and Farming Action Plan 2021 include:
“A. GROW THE CLUSTER Grow the Golden Horseshoe cluster so it becomes the leading food and farming cluster in the world, renowned for healthy and safe products.
B. LINK FOOD, FARMING AND HEALTH Educate current and future consumers about the importance of locally sourced food and farming products for enhancing their health and well-being.
C. FOSTER INNOVATION Encourage and support innovation to enhance the competitiveness and sustainability of the Golden Horseshoe food and farming cluster.
D. ENABLE THE CLUSTER Align policy tools and their application to enable food and farming businesses to be increasingly competitive and profitable.
E. CULTIVATE NEW APPROACHES Pilot new approaches to support food and farming in the Golden Horseshoe.”
The GrowTO report acknowleges the important work of Vancouver’s City Farmer organization, a non-profit group that has been promoting composting and food production in our cities since 1978!
“City Farmer teaches people how to grow food in the city, compost their waste and take care of their home landscape in an environmentally responsible way” http://www.cityfarmer.info/about/
This report emphasizes that our communities want to be involved with local healthy sustainable food production. Residents in our communities see rural agriculture simply a larger scale version of what they dream about with urban agriculture. We see a movement towards integrating urban and rural food production.