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Canada: How to feed a hungry city

Brandon Hebor, co-founder of Ripple Farms Inc., inspects the growing lights of an aquaponic lab. Ripple currently sells its produce to high-end chefs.

Toronto has become a leader in urban agriculture, but there’s worry public awareness is lagging as new projects struggle to take root

By Charlie Friedmann
Globe And Mail
Nov 3, 2017

Excerpt:

“Torontonians have long grown in their backyards and continue to do so, but it’s mostly been under the radar,” notes Joe Nasr of the Centre for Studies in Food Security at Ryerson University and a co-ordinator of Toronto Urban Growers (TUG). “What’s new is this attention to the fact it exists and that it has a place in the city, and that the city can help it prosper.”

TUG has brought together a diverse group of civilian stakeholders since 2009, with the goal of increasing the availability of healthy and sustainable food grown, processed and sold in Toronto. Through networking meetings, public forums and lobbying, the group has done just that, and – working with the Toronto Food Policy Council (TFPC) – was largely behind efforts to bring Toronto’s Urban Agriculture Day to fruition.

Experts explain that supporting urban agriculture citywide is crucial because projects such as community gardens or larger-scale operations such as Black Creek Community Farm not only provide access to healthy and affordable food but offer skills and job training.

“I’m very keen on urban agriculture,” Lori Stahlbrand, chair of the TFPC, says. “There are so many ways you can address health, nutrition, social inclusion, the environment and economic development, all using food.” In contrast to the civilian TUG, the food-policy council is directly embedded in city government. “We were the first food-policy council in a major city in the world,” Ms. Stahlbrand says. “There are now several hundred, but the key to what makes ours different is that I’m a permanent staff of the City of Toronto.”

Read the complete article here.