Food Forward showcases Urban Agriculture at Regent Park

Food Forward Event Photo_July 10
Mansura Begum, community gardener in Regent Park talking about the potential of community gardens as a driver of local and global change.

Food Forward recently organized an event at the Paintbox Bistro, 555 Dundas Street East, in Regent Park to share updates on the urban agriculture developments in the Regent Park housing revitalization project.

At the event Regent Park residents, community organizers, and project managers from The Daniels Corporation (a lead private sector partner in the project), presented on how urban agriculture has been considered and integrated throughout Regent Park’s revitalization.

The urban agriculture movement in Toronto is growing. The first international Urban Agriculture Summit was held in Toronto last summer (August 15 – 18, 2012), hosted at Ryerson University. At the Summit, local urban agriculture advocates presented the GrowTO Urban Agriculture Action Plan for Toronto. The question remains, however, how can growing food and food cultivation in the city shift from something spectacular to something everyone sees and experiences everyday?

Part of this challenge is to design gardening opportunities into our high-rises and condominiums. Food Forward is advocating for more consideration and integration of food growing infrastructure in Toronto’s housing complexes, along the lines of what Regent Park has accomplished, and for opening up more developer-community dialogue for urban agriculture and food hub opportunities.

The Regent Park community, along with The Daniels Corporation, has led the urban agriculture movement in Toronto to new heights. Through their successes, they have learned valuable and practical lessons for gardening amongst urban high-rise infrastructure, from how to get the planning and design started to how to maintain it, and linking gardening activities to food hubs, commercial kitchens and food stores. Challenges met and lessons learned include advocating for suitable planter boxes on roof tops and balconies, ensuring adequate soil and water (including consideration of how to get them to the rooftop!), and cultivating in confined spaces, often in direct sunlight; all while animating space for community engagement.

Food Forward looks to carry on this momentum, and communicate the lessons learned from the Regent Park experience to those looking to make change in their own communities across Toronto.

Many young people are in the stage in their life where they are moving into apartments and condominiums, often renting, or purchasing their first home. These young people are part of the TYFPC community, and we want to engage them in creating new opportunities for urban agriculture where they live, and for where they want to live! We also want to recognize the Regent Park community and the revitalization project for being trailblazers for urban agriculture in housing complexes. We hope to collaborate with Food Forward in the near future on communicating the lessons and experiences of Regent Park’s urban agriculture development to a wider community.

Food Forward’s project to develop and share best practices for integrating urban agriculture into housing complexes has been made possible by the Heart and Stroke Foundation.  We look forward to engaging our TYFPC community for ways to partner with Food Forward on this urban agriculture advocacy and education endeavour.

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