My name is Jacob Kearey-Moreland and I am a fourth year student at the University of Toronto majoring in Philosophy and Sociology. For the last 4 years I have been deeply engaged in issues pertaining to food. I am currently coordinating a network of community gardens around the city of Orillia which I spearheaded in March of 2009. The project is called “Orillia Community Gardens” and the mission is to grow “a sustainable, integrated network of community gardens across the city of Orillia.”
I have also helped to establish the “Food Security Working Group” as part of our local Transition Town Orillia initiative. This working group aims to connect all local food projects and organizations to better facilitate communication and collaboration in order to create a healthy, equitable food system.
In that time I’ve been actively writing letters to local newspapers, coordinating social media accounts via email, Facebook and twitter, which altogether totals over 500 members. I also frequent many local events with an information /veggy booth to raise the profile of the projects. I’ve also made presentations to many diverse organizations and talked with thousands of people communicating the countless benefits of urban/community agriculture, and the growing issue of food security.
Since the spring of 2009 our community of community gardeners has helped to inspire and grow half a dozen gardens in and around Orillia; at city parks, non-profit housing co-ops, local churches, farms and low income neighbourhoods. We expect many more gardens to pop up in the spring of 2012.
This past spring the community garden at my family farm has morphed into what we now call a wikifarm. A wikifarm is an open-source, collaborative approach to agriculture and cultural production which promotes free, accessible and open mass participation. This year we’ve had over 500 unique visitors to the site who have made thousands of ‘edits’ in the gardens; planting, weeding, watering, harvesting, eating, etc. and together we have produced thousands of pounds of food without the need for monetary exchange.
Last school year I worked at Hart House coordinating the Dig In Campus Agriculture network. I worked collaboratively with many food organizations on and off campus, including the Hart House Farm, UofT Bees, The Hot Yam!, The Sky Garden, and many others. I have recently submitted an application to sit on the Toronto Youth Food Policy Council, and look forward to participating in any way I can.
Next semester I plan to work on an independent study unit in which I create a curriculum for a Summer Co-operative Course in Urban Agriculture/Community gardening. I then plan to propose the course to various universities, colleges particularly Lakehead University and Georgian College in Orillia.
If I was to sit on the TYFPC I intend to work with the council and community at large towards establishing a similar co-op course in urban agriculture/community gardening, for youth by youth. The course aims at educating young people about food issues through active participation in urban agriculture projects around the city, with the goal of empowering them to lead their own.
Thanks for your time and consideration and I look forward to helping out in any way I can!
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