On Friday, September 9th, 2016, the Toronto Youth Food Policy Council regrouped for an orientation retreat at Kimbercote Lodge in Grey Highlands, Ontario. The retreat was a creative opportunity for new and returning members of the council to plan, set goals and harmonizes ideas for an exciting new year. Kimbercote Lodge is an old farmstead which sits along the Bruce trail that has recently been taken over by Elephant Thoughts, a non-profit educational organization that focuses on engaging marginalized youth through experiential education. The site was the perfect setting for the TYFPC retreat and we can’t thank them enough for hosting us!
We began the weekend by sharing a meal and getting to know each other. We have a rule: no council business at meal-times. This is time for us to enjoy each other’s company. Council business really began Saturday morning where we dove into the TYFPC’s history, policies and operations and learned about the unique and dynamic responsibilities of the executive, education, advocacy, and fundraising and networking committees. As the weekend unfolded council members continued to absorb and exchange information.
During a lengthy strategic planning session, the council identified the main topics we would be focusing our energy on for the year. These broad themes will form the starting point for community events, but will take further shape as council members develop the ideas further and partner with local organizations and speakers who will further influence the shape of the event. A peak at the themes we will be tackling include:
- creating space for youth in food policy at the Food Secure Canada conference
- uncovering hidden labor and migrant labor in the food service and food production industry
- connecting youth to food careers
- centering experiences of diaspora and indigenous communities through food storytelling
- exploring the social and healing benefits of urban agriculture
- uniting urban and rural food issues
- delving into the frontier of biotechnology and food
- and more! Have ideas? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Focusing our time and energy on planning and preparing the TYFPC’s upcoming year projects and collaborations was our first priority but we also took some time to learn and connect with one another through walks around Kimbercote’s lush grounds, combining culinary talents in the kitchen (planning and preparing meals in groups), and sharing stories and savory meals around the beautiful harvest table.
We ended the weekend with a SWOT activity (Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) to help us recognize our strengths as a group and help us prepare for potential shortcomings. It soon became clear that one of our strongest assets would be in our diverse backgrounds, our unique experiences with food and our genuine passion to create an inclusive and sustainable food system.
The TYFPC is in the process of planning a number of exciting workshops, panels and events for the year which will strive to create spaces for youth to learn and meaningfully engage in the food system. We’ll start with our first community event being held at Food Secure Canada this [insert date] and time. To keep on top of upcoming TYFPC event opportunities to volunteer or contribute to council activities please keep a lookout for postings on our Facebook and Twitter, or better yet, sign up for our newsletter!