Let’s Talk About Supporting Urban Agriculture

So far in our Vote for London’s Food System series, we’ve explored what community food security is and why protecting farmland is important. For our last installment, we are going to talk about how you can support urban agriculture this election.

What is urban agriculture?

Generally, agriculture is the act of using land to produce (grow) and distribute food. You may be more familiar with rural agriculture – think of large farm fields in the countryside. Urban agriculture is much the same, but it happens on a smaller scale within city limits.

Why is urban agriculture important? 

Primarily, urban agriculture is important because growing food within a community means food is readily available to that community. Urban agriculture removes barriers to accessing food, such as financial strain and/or a lack of transportation. Since food is immediately available and the price does not include shipping costs, food is cheaper and fresher for community members.

Additionally, urban agriculture has longer-term benefits for you and your community. Since urban agriculture projects happen right in your neighbourhood, you can easily find fresh options that can improve your physical and mental health. Urban agriculture also provides opportunities near your home to learn about food production and food issues. Close contact with how food is grown gives communities the chance to learn about food security and why rising food costs impact both consumers (you) and food producers (growers, farmers, etc.).

Another amazing benefit of urban agriculture is its positive impact on our environment. Planting gardens, cultivating fruit trees, or starting small farms creates healthy habitats for wildlife. For example, planting flowers and growing vegetables provides homes and food for bees. This leads to increased bee populations and more pollination, creating a lush ecosystem (which also benefits your garden and food production). Urban agriculture also helps the environment by cutting down on driving and food waste. When food can be sourced locally, people drive leading to lower carbon emissions. Access to a regular supply of local food means you can buy less at one time which helps prevent food spoilage and in turn, decreases food waste.

Since urban agriculture impacts communities in so many positive ways, our next city council needs to support its growth in London.

What is London’s urban agriculture like right now?

London made some positive changes to our urban agriculture by-laws in 2021. For example, if you have a large plot of land in your backyard, you may be able to build a greenhouse up to 200m2. You can also grow food in shipping containers if you get a permit! 

Despite the changes, by-laws still limit what can be grown within city limits,  London has a small, but passionate, urban agriculture scene. There are currently over 450 gardeners working within London’s 17 community gardens to provide communities access to low-cost and healthy food. Organisations like Urban Roots London have pushed through the existing red tape to make the most of London’s unused land by growing organic food and distributing it locally, proving urban agriculture can be a successful operation in London. Others see this too which is why The Grove exists; an agribusiness hub in London’s Western Fair District that provides people with the space and resources to make connections and make their ideas for bettering local agriculture a reality. As previously mentioned, London’s urban ag scene is small but passionate, and more forward, pro-urban ag city government will only see the scene grow.

However, there is still room to grow.

What can the London city council do to support urban agriculture?

While London city council is not directly responsible for the implementation of urban agriculture projects, they are in charge of advocating for bylaw changes to the provincial government. This means they can push our provincial government to give more city space to urban agriculture. If by-law changes pass, neighbourhoods could build more community gardens or start other initiatives. The city can also refine land use applications and reduce fees to ease the burden of accessing land approved for urban agricultural activities. (See our citations for specific actions municipalities should take.)

How can I vote for candidates that will support urban agriculture?

How can you ensure the candidate you vote for supports growing food in the city? Use our questions below to gauge your candidate’s interest and knowledge of urban agriculture.

  • Would you consider urban agriculture a solution to some food security issues?
  • How do you plan to grow urban agriculture within our municipality?
  • What urban agriculture initiative are you most excited about and why?
  • What changes do you think you can make to existing by-laws and programs to expand urban agriculture in London?

Other Actions You Can Take To Support Urban Agriculture

Besides voting on October 24th, here’s a list of actions you can take to support our urban agriculture community and get involved yourself:

  • Join a community garden and grow your own food. Take things a step further by saving a row and growing some food for the London Food Bank.
  • Visit the Victory Garden at the Western Fair
  • Connect with Pollinator Pathways and learn how to plant a pollinator garden
  • Buy food from urban growers 
  • Join Facebook groups to connect with urban gardeners (FUAL, etc.)


Written by Evelyna-Sophia Press
Edited by Julissa Litterick

Let’s Talk About Protecting Farmland

Ontario loses 319 acres of farmland every day. That is roughly 246 football fields or 9 family farms! Losing this agricultural land means London is reliant on importing food, making our food supply more vulnerable to disruptions in supply and price increases. 

While this is a scary statistic that can impact Londoners directly, we also have the power to protect our farmland. In the second instalment of our Vote for London’s Food System series, let’s look at London’s current relationship with urban development and how your vote can protect our farmland.

Understanding London’s Urban Development

Municipalities are essential actors in the fight against farmland loss. While the provincial government sets the precedent for land development and preservation, it is up to cities like London to interpret and implement provincial policy. 

Compared to other cities, London has had some success tackling the issue of farmland loss. In 1996, the city created an “urban growth boundary” – a dividing line between land that can be used for housing or industry and land that must be kept for agriculture or conservation. While farmland in Ontario is decreasing every year, London has seen its agricultural land increase by more than 23% in the last decade. Currently, “[a]lmost 80% of the land outside of our Urban Growth Boundary is rated as prime agricultural land.” 

However, the city is under pressure to relax its preservation policies and the urban growth boundary to allow for further residential and commercial development.  As the fastest growing city in Ontario and fourth in Canada, London is faced with a dilemma that pits the future of housing for the city’s growing population, against the continued viability of the local food system to feed that population. As we head into municipal elections, it is important that both candidates and voters understand the pressures currently placed on local farmland. 

Why Is Losing Farmland A Problem?

London’s agricultural land may have increased in recent years, but that doesn’t tell the whole story of transformation in our countryside. Overall, the trend in Ontario is that farms increase in size, while the number of farms and farmers shrink. Investors, both Canadian and foreign, are purchasing Ontario land for future development, pushing the price of farmland so high that small-scale farmers see no choice but to sell, and first-time farmers cannot afford to buy. Between 2020 and 2021 alone, the price for farmland in southern Ontario increased over 22%. Many farmers now rent land instead of purchasing it, and 20% of the land rented in Ontario is owned by corporations, pension funds, and other non-farm investors. 

It is true that farmland may be preserved as smaller farms are sold and concentrated into large operations, but the potential environmental and economic consequences remain. With large-scale, sometimes foreign-owned operations, it is less likely that profits are reinvested in the local community. And, there may be less incentive for farmers on rented land to diversify food crops to promote variety in the local diet or make operational changes to promote sustainability of the local ecosystem. The issue of farmland loss does not only concern the land itself, but who has access to that land and in what manner they use it. 

The Covid-19 pandemic has shed an even brighter light on this issue, highlighting both the significance and limitations of our local food systems. Going forward, the more resilient our local food system, the less likely we are to experience disruptions to our food supply during a crisis. If part of the city’s strategic plan is to “[i]mprove London’s resiliency to respond to potential future challenges,” farmland preservation must be on the agenda. 

How Can Our Next City Council Protect Farmland?

Besides continually discussing farmland preservation during meetings about development, our city council needs to engage with other levels of government. In fact, cities have a responsibility to advocate on behalf of residents anytime there is the opportunity to bring forward the concerns of the municipalities to provincial and federal governments. To do this, our city council needs to build relationships with our provincial and federal representatives. They can also work through formal advocacy channels, such as the Association of Municipalities Ontario and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.

How Do You Know Which Candidates Prioritise Protecting Farmland?

As voters, what can we do to help protect farmland this election season? First and foremost, we need to understand how we can hold the next municipal government accountable. Take a look at candidate’s responses to the Thriving London survey. Then, use our question list below to gauge your candidate’s familiarity with and commitment to farmland preservation.  After that, review our list of other actions you can take to support farmers.

Engaging with Your Candidates

Sample questions:

  • How can you ensure that issues related to agriculture and farmland conservation are routinely on the agenda when discussing land development?
  • How will you respond to pressures to change the urban growth boundary to allow for more development on currently protected land?
  • How do you plan to work with other municipalities to promote the protection of agricultural land?
  • How do you plan to engage with farmers about issues related to land access?
  • How will you balance the needs of urban and rural residents and make policy decisions that are mutually beneficial to these groups? 
    • How do we overcome the seeming ‘divide’ between rural and urban spaces, and see agriculture as part of a system that includes both?
    • How will you balance creating affordable housing with protecting agricultural land?

What if your candidate asks you for your resources? You can always direct them to us at info@mlfpc.ca. We’ve also curated a list of resources for policy makers that you can email to your leaders:

Other Ways to Support Farmers and Farmland


London has more farmland than other municipalities, but there is pressure to turn that land into housing or commercial properties. Our next city council needs to balance development with preserving our agricultural land so we can house and feed our community. Voting for councillors who prioritise this balance is vital for protecting the future of London’s food system. To learn where your candidates stand on preserving farmland, review responses to the Thriving London survey and use our question list to talk with your candidates directly.

Finally, check out our list for ways to support farmers and local food.

Written by Siobhan Watters
Edited by Julissa Litterick

Let’s Talk About Community Food Security

It’s no secret that food prices are increasing. Discount food stores are seeing increased sales and Canadian inflation rates are higher than they have been in nearly 40 years.1 For some Londoners, this may mean tightening budgets, and on others, more severe consequences. 

On October 24th, 2022, Londoners will head to the polls and vote for Mayor, City Council and School Board Trustees. It is very important that we elect city officials who support policies that make food accessible to all Londoners. But how do you know where candidates stand on food issues? In this post, we are going to help you prepare to vote for London’s food system by defining food insecurity and questions to ask your candidates.

What is food insecurity?

The official definition of food insecurity in Canada is, “…the inability to acquire or consume an adequate diet quality or sufficient quantity of food in socially acceptable ways, or the uncertainty that one will be able to do so”.2 Let’s clarify exactly what the definition of food insecurity means:

  • Inability to acquire or consume an adequate diet in quality or sufficient quantity of food”. This means folks in our community do not have enough food that is healthy and safe to eat. The biggest reason for this is inadequate income. Households do not have enough money to pay for all of their basic needs which include housing, transportation, and food. A updated report shows that 51.9% of food insecure households have paid employment, but do not make enough money to afford all of their basic needs.3 
  • …in socially acceptable ways”. This refers to the social and cultural context in which we eat our food. Food has emotional and social meaning – choosing foods we like and eating with others can help us bond with our loved ones and connect to our heritage. When a person is food insecure, they often lose autonomy and can experience social and psychological stress in addition to going without food. For example, people who rely on food banks often have fewer choices when picking out their food. This lack of freedom is frustrating, and can poorly impact mental health. In addition, food bank users may experience shame for using food banks as a result of unfair, negative attitudes society may have towards them. 
  • “…or the uncertainty that one will be able to so.” This part of the definition is very important. The stress and anxiety of not knowing if you will be able to get food can be just as difficult to cope with as the lack of food. Again, the biggest reason people lack access to food is money. Many Londoners cannot afford to buy food after paying for other basic needs. Even when people use emergency food services like the London Food Bank, they are limited to getting food once every 30 days because of the high demand in our community.4

How food secure is London?

When determining a region’s food security level, food affordability is often used to estimate how much money is needed for a household to purchase food. This measure considers how many people live in a household and if they can eat a variety of foods recommended by Canada’s Food Guide. The latest local data from 2019 shows that roughly 1 in 7 households in the Middlesex-London region were food insecure.5 This means their income was insufficient to cover all of their basic living expenses, including purchasing enough food. At a provincial level, PROOF recent 2021 report shows food insecurity in Ontario has risen to 16.1% of households.3 In the past, London’s food insecurity rates have been in-line with those of Ontario. Assuming London continues to follow provincial trends, the potential for an increasing number of food insecure households is troubling, especially in light of rapid increases in food prices and the much slower increase in income.

How can we improve food security in London?

It is important to note that food security must be addressed at different levels of government as each level has different responsibilities.Since food security is tied to income, increasing food security is often the provincial government’s responsibility as they deal with social assistance and set minimum wages. However, our local government also has a role in creating a food secure London. Our municipal government plays a crucial role in enacting by-laws, land use policies, and strategic planning. For example, London city council can support affordable housing projects and help small businesses which ensures Londoners can access stable employment and housing. This leads to more money for people’s food budgets. 

In Middlesex-London, we also have a thriving agri-food industry which is an important contributor to the local economy. The region’s large volume and variety of agricultural and farming operations make London an ideal home for these businesses. Currently, food processing and production companies in London employ more than 7000 people in addition to those employed at local farms.6 It is important that city council support and protect these sectors of the food system in our region. Londoners benefit from both the local food supply, and the positive impact on our local economy at a community and household level.

Questions to Ask Your Candidates

Ensuring everyone in our community has the ability to purchase healthy food should be a top priority this election, but it may be difficult to know if your candidate is willing to tackle food security issues. Here are some questions you can ask to gauge your candidates’ commitment to address food insecurity in London.

  • How will you follow through on supporting the affordable housing and public transportation 2019-2023 City of London strategic goals? 
  • What types of grants or initiatives do you intend to apply for to support the further development of our agri-food industry?
  • How do you plan to attract agri-food businesses and processing facilities to set-up in London which in turn will provide more local employment opportunities?
  • Will you continue to promote and invest in urban agriculture initiatives as part of the 2019-2023 City of London strategic goals?

Curious to learn more?

If you want to learn more about local food insecurity check out these great resources:


  1. https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/220720/dq220720a-eng.htm
  2. https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/food-nutrition/food-nutrition-surveillance/health-nutrition-surveys/canadian-community-health-survey-cchs/household-food-insecurity-canada-overview.html
  3. Tarasuk V, Li T, Fafard St-Germain AA. (2022) Household food insecurity in Canada, 2021. Toronto: Research to identify policy options to reduce food insecurity (PROOF). Retrieved from https://proof.utoronto.ca/
  4. https://www.londonfoodbank.ca/learn/faq
  5. https://www.healthunit.com/cost-of-healthy-eating
  6. https://www.ledc.com/agri-food
  7. https://mlfpc.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Full-Report.pdf
  8. https://www.healthunit.com/community-food-assessment 

Written by Christine Basille
Edited by Julissa Litterick

Local Foods in Healthcare: Promoting a Stronger Community

Maintaining health and well-being is a main goal of hospitals and long-term care homes.  Incorporating local foods into healthcare institution menus not only aligns with this mission remarkably but can lead to healthier patients and communities.

Benefits of Local Food Use in Healthcare Institutions

There are lots of benefits to using local foods on the menu in hospitals and long-term care homes. Here are just a few:

          Increased patient satisfaction and nutrition

Studies show that patients are pleased to hear that the ingredients for their meal came from a local farm, and this can have a positive effect on comfort and meal satisfaction ratings.1

Local foods can also provide better nutrition for patients as they are more likely to be fresh. Better nutrition can lead to quicker recovery rates and shorter hospital stays, which can lessen the burden on healthcare systems.

          Stronger support for the provincial economy

Buying local food for healthcare institutions means more business for local food producers and farmers.  It also strengthens relationships between managers in healthcare and local farmers, uniting our community.

          Smaller carbon footprint

Food travels a shorter distance when obtained locally, which reduces fuel use, carbon emissions, and pollution during transport.

 Strategies for Successful Local Food Use

Now that we know why local foods are a great component of healthcare menus, what is being done to encourage and increase local food use in our institutions?

In a 2018 study, Emily Linton and colleagues set out to determine key influences and key strategies for successful local food use in Ontario healthcare institutions.2 They interviewed stakeholders from multiple areas of the food system and revealed practical actions that helped healthcare institutions get more local foods into patient meals.

Here are a few strategies they found were key to success:

          Local food lists

If you were a food service manager looking to purchase local food for the hospital, wouldn’t it be easier if you had a list clearly indicating available local foods?

This is the role of a local food list—to group foods grown or produced in Ontario, all in one place.  Hospitals and long-term care homes can ask their group purchasing organizations (the organizations through which they buy their food items) to update their food product list to include local foods.

          Local frozen produce

Local produce availability can change with the season, but many healthcare institution menus do not.  One solution is local frozen produce, which is available year-round.

           Using in-season produce

Another solution is using produce that is in season, as it often comes at a lower cost.

 Success in the Field: Mount Hope Centre for Long Term Care

Local food is being used by healthcare institutions right here in London!

One institution helping set the example is Mount Hope Centre for Long Term Care.  They buy fresh, in-season produce from local farmers including sweet corn, field tomatoes, and peaches.  Beef, turkey, bread, eggs, and some dairy products are also purchased locally.

Mount Hope is also partnering with NOURISH, a non-profit organization, on a project to facilitate buying local and managing food waste.

Knowing the benefits, influences, and strategies to implement local food use is crucial for decision-makers in healthcare institutions to accomplish it successfully.  It is important to keep the conversation going to gain new perspectives and innovations to support buying local.

Written by Serenah Jafelice

Painting by Serenah Jafelice


  1. Trinca V, Duizer L, Keller H. Putting quality food on the tray: factors associated with patients’ perceptions of the hospital food experience. J Hum Nutr Diet. 2021 Jun 25; 00: 1-13. doi:10.1111/jhn.12929
  2. Linton E, Keller H, Duizer L. Ingredients for success: strategies to support local food use in health care institutions. Can J Diet Pract Res. 2018 Sep 1; 79(3): 113-117. doi:10.3148/cjdpr-2018-008

About the Author:  Serenah Jafelice is a volunteer with the MLFPC. She has a passion for healthy living and volunteers with various community groups and healthcare charities.  She has completed an Honours Specialization in Biology with a Minor in Genetics at Western University.  She is intrigued by the overlap between healthy eating, medicine, and lifestyle.  She loves communicating scientific information in a way that is easy to understand and helps people better their lives.

Planting For Our Pollinators And Our Future

A report to London’s City Council, on December 7th 2021, titled “Encouraging the Growing of Food in Urban Areas – City Wide”, resulted in amendments to London’s Official Plan and the London Zoning bylaw Z-1. As noted, in the opening paragraph of the report; the project focuses on the “Growing” component of London’s Urban Agriculture Strategy and is being considered under the Urban Agriculture Strategy’s guiding principle to develop supportive municipal policies, regulations, and bylaws, and remove policy barriers to urban agriculture.

By clarifying the conditions which allow for Greenhouses, Hoop Houses and Shipping Containers for the growing of food and relaxing the need for a building permit and site plan evaluation under certain circumstances, people will be closer to providing their own food security and food sovereignty within London’s Urban Growth Boundary. Property owners will also want to consult with their insurance providers to ensure that there are no further barriers and restrictions beyond the City’s jurisdiction.

While Friends of Urban Agriculture London (FUAL) complement the work of London’s Planning department and the City’s Council in their work to develop supportive municipal policies, regulations, and bylaws, and remove policy barriers to Urban Agriculture, we see this as one step of a work in progress.

The references to livestock in this report, essentially section 5.1 Overall Objectives, brought our attention to section 662 of London’s Official Plan. This statement restricts the keeping of livestock and pursuing animal husbandry activities within the Urban Place Types. This in turn restricts the citizens of London in their quest for food security and food sovereignty as well as affecting the work of a number of businesses, non-profit organizations and co-operatives that keep bees and raise other insects within the Urban Growth Boundary.

In early 2017, the Agriculture Advisory Committee sent a letter to council to recommend that Council request the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs review and amend the Ontario Bees Act to allow Ontario municipalities to create their own bylaws which could permit urban beekeeping. Later in 2017, the “original final draft” of London’s Urban Agriculture Strategy also recommended that Council “Consider an Official Plan amendment and any other regulatory amendments to permit the keeping of livestock within urban areas of the city.”

Many of the vegetables that we grow and eat do not require pollination. But, if we wish to grow fruit vegetables, like tomatoes, cucumbers, strawberries and melons, in a greenhouse, we have to ask: “Who will provide the pollination?”.

This blog post is part of “Examining Updates To London’s Urban Agriculture Bylaw – A Collaborative Series”. View other blog posts in the series at mlfpc.ca/blog

Would you want to be a future collaborator on this series? Send us an email at info@mlfpc.ca and include “ATTN: Request to Collaborate on Examining Updates To London’s Urban Agriculture Bylaw!” in your subject line.


Cultivating Equity Through Land Access

Last December, London City Council passed amendments to the London Plan and Zoning By-law to make it easier for Londoners to grow food in the city. The amendments focused on the regulations for growing food within the urban growth boundary, the development and use of greenhouses in association with urban agriculture, and shipping containers used to grow food in association with urban agriculture. These welcomed amendments are an important step in moving the Urban Agriculture Strategy forward, easing barriers and providing much-needed clarity for urban agriculture throughout London.

The COVID-19 pandemic has only increased the lack of access to affordable food. The need for improved access to fresh, high-quality produce has never been greater. As a non-profit focused on utilizing underused land to grow food, Urban Roots London is encouraged to see the City of London continuing to embrace urban agriculture. It is especially exciting to have more flexibility for greenhouse and shipping container growing barriers, allowing urban growers to extend their growing season or grow year-round.

While acknowledging the amendments are a significant step forward, we also encourage continued action on other urban agricultural issues to further the Urban Agriculture Strategy. For example, developing processes for growing food in city boulevards, growing and selling in city parks, creating food hubs, reducing application fees and development charges for urban agriculture, and financial support for soil tests would reduce the barriers and provide opportunities to strengthen the local food system. In addition, we need to continue to make it easier for all Londoners and organizations to access and use land to improve food security in response to the climate emergency.

And these changes may not be far away. Recently, the City has collaborated with Hutton House and the Kensington Neighbourhood to establish the Cavendish Park Food Hub. The proposed precedent-setting agreement between the City and local organizations to use city-owned land for urban agriculture will open doors to use this model throughout the city.

While we continue to push for simplicity and reduce barriers, we also need to ensure we use a transparent and equitable approach that takes into consideration everyone’s barriers. Developing a fair and equitable process for organizations and community groups, especially those led by equity-deserving groups, to access and license city-owned land for non-profit urban agriculture will let us all work to improve food security.

This blog post is part of “Examining Updates To London’s Urban Agriculture Bylaw – A Collaborative Series”. View other blog posts in the series at mlfpc.ca/blog

Would you want to be a future collaborator on this series? Send us an email at info@mlfpc.ca and include “ATTN: Request to Collaborate on Examining Updates To London’s Urban Agriculture Bylaw!” in your subject line.

Growing Food in Your Backyard is Now as Easy as A – B – C

Thanks to recent changes in the City of London By-laws, growing food on urban land just got a lot easier. This short guide will bring you through the A-B-C’s of urban agriculture and how it applies to you, your family, and your community at large. There are plenty of great reasons to begin growing fruits and vegetables at home, from reduced grocery costs to increased nutritional value in the fresh food; but how can one do this reliably when it snows six months a year? 

Assess Your Space

One of the major changes is the recognition of “Urban Agriculture” and its application to all areas within the City of London’s urban growth boundary. This allows for the growing of food on lands, in greenhouses and shipping containers, within buildings and on rooftops throughout the city.*

If you have a large plot of land in your backyard, you may be able to build a greenhouse up to 200m2 with a streamlined scoped site plan process, reducing the submission requirements to avoid unnecessary studies being prepared. Shipping containers may also be converted and used in all areas of the city to grow food; however, a more detailed site plan approval is required. See the MLFPC website for a breakdown on the limitations to greenhouse and shipping container locations.

Bloom with a Buddy

Once you have a garden space located, research what plants will thrive in that given location. Consider the amount of sunlight, water, and space your plants will need when configuring your garden. Companion Planting is an easy and effective way to boost your garden’s output and naturally protect it from bugs; check out the Farmers’ Almanac for a chart of different vegetables that grow well together!

If you support urban agriculture, but simply don’t have the space or time to maintain a garden, consider planting a pollinator garden on your property. These low-maintenance gardens provide nectar and pollen for bees and butterflies and help keep their populations healthy. The David Suzuki website has curated a list of native plants that thrive in these gardens!

Compost Your Waste

Organic yard and kitchen waste make up about 30% of the waste disposed of by Canadian households. (Source: Taking stock: Reducing food loss and waste in Canada – Canada.ca

Composting this waste can make a nutritious meal for your gardens while saving you space in your garbage can. Improperly disposed of food waste produces harmful greenhouse gases over time but is avoided when composting. Soil from compost is full of organic nutrients for plants and has high water-retention ability, making your gardens more drought-resistant. 

The City of London sells composting bins at each Enviro Depot location, starting from $20 each (taxes included). See the City of London Enviro Depot website to learn about compostable vs. non-compostable materials!

This blog post is part of “Examining Updates To London’s Urban Agriculture Bylaw – A Collaborative Series”. View other blog posts in the series at mlfpc.ca/blog

Would you want to be a future collaborator on this series? Send us an email at info@mlfpc.ca and include “ATTN: Request to Collaborate on Examining Updates To London’s Urban Agriculture Bylaw!” in your subject line.


Food Literacy – Now Included in Ontario’s Science Curriculum

A win for Ontario kids! On March 8, 2022, the Ontario government released its plan to update the province’s elementary science curriculum to include lessons on food literacy taught. What does this mean?

The new curriculum will be implemented in September 2022. Students from Grades 1-8 will have the opportunity to learn about agriculture, biodiversity, and climate change with a food systems lens. For example:

  • Grade 3 students will learn about soil health management and assess the benefits and limitations of locally grown food. They will also explore various plants and foods traditionally grown by First Nations, Métis, and Inuit communities.
  • Grade 5 students will develop the food literacy skills necessary for making informed decisions on physical and mental health behaviours.
  • Grade 6 students will discover how biodiversity interacts with agriculture and climate change.
  • Grade 7 students will explore how ecosystems are impacted by various methods of agricultural and food harvesting practices.
  • Grade 8 students will be introduced to food processing systems.

These changes come after Bill 216, Food Literacy for Students Act, 2020, passed its second reading in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. This bill amends the Education Act to ensure students from Grades 1-12 have opportunities to learn about food through experiential learning activities. Currently, Bill 216 is being reviewed by a standing committee. It will have to then be reported to House, undergo a third reading, and require royal assent before it officially becomes law.

Although there’s more to do before Bill 216 becomes law, we hope that these curriculum changes foreshadow a positive outcome. In the meantime, we are pleased to see the Ontario government acting now to ensure Ontario kids learn how to connect to food. Developing food literacy skills is vital for kids to improve individual and community health. Preparing tomorrow’s food leaders for making meaningful changes in our food system starts in the classroom.

For more information on the curriculum changes, check out: https://news.ontario.ca/en/release/1001722/ontario-modernizing-school-science-curriculum and https://sustainontario.com/2022/03/11/food-literacy-included-in-new-gr-1-8-ontario-science-and-technology-curriculum/

To learn more about how a bill becomes law in Ontario, please see: https://www.ola.org/sites/default/files/common/how-bills-become-law-en.pdf

Written by Julissa Litterick

Celebrate Canada’s Agriculture Day

A letter from Agriculture More Than Ever:

Canada’s Agriculture Day is back!

Last year, the entire ag industry celebrated across the country, shared our pride, opened doors to new food conversations, and trended nationally on Twitter. And we can’t wait to do it again in 2022.
Join us on Tuesday, February 22 as we raise a fork to the food we love.

Connecting with consumers

Canada’s Agriculture Day is a time to showcase all the amazing things happening in the industry and help consumers see the connection to where their food comes from and the people who produce it. Consumers want to learn more, and this day is a great way to start the conversation.

Here are just a few ways you can get involved:

  • Post a photo, make a video, or write a blog. Share what you’re doing on social media using the hashtag #CdnAgDay.
  • Encourage your friends to show-off their culinary talents using all-Canadian ingredients.
  • Teach someone something new about agriculture. Share your knowledge and story with others.

These ideas are only suggestions – come up with your own ways to share your passion for ag and inspire others to join the conversation. It’s all about celebrating Canadian agriculture and food in engaging, fun and respectful ways.

For more inspiration, visit AgDay.ca

We can’t wait to celebrate with you on February 22!

AgDay.ca | #CdnAgDay



Download letter as PDF


Interview with Nadine Castonguay, EnviroWestern Garden Executive and Food System Champion 2021

Nadine Castonguay, EnviroWestern Garden Executive at Western University, was selected as a Food System Champion in 2021.

Recently, Nadine led the development of the community garden located at Western University. She worked with various stakeholders across campus to organize a new and more visible location for the EnviroWestern Garden and took care of the land from watering and weeding to managing student volunteers throughout the summer. You can learn more about her positive impact on the local food system at mlfpc.ca/foodchampions.

Q: What drew you into doing work in the food system?

A: My passions for food and the environment collide. I wanted to create a system on campus to facilitate knowledge generation and dissemination where the community could come to understand the complex dynamics of our food including the links between the economic, social, and environmental elements of how food is sourced.

Q: What do you like most about your food system work?  

A: My favourite part about food system work is the actual production of something that provides us with what we need to sustain human life. It’s crazy that we can produce outputs that contain nutrients that allow us to thrive. I appreciate that without the food system, we would not survive.

Q: What works well in Middlesex London to support your work?

A: I appreciate that there is a growing community of individuals who want to see more organic and locally sourced food available. There is a market of opportunity for new businesses to venture into sustainable agriculture.

Q: Are there local challenges that make your job more difficult?

A: There are significant barriers for new farmers such as increased land prices, the lack of knowledge around the definition of sustainable food production, and what it looks like to have a sustainable food production operation.

Q: What would you like to see in our local community to strengthen our food system?

A: I would like to see a greater emphasis on allowing individuals to grow and produce their own food in the city. For example, having more rooftop gardens, increasing the number of community gardens, and developing agricultural opportunities in neighbourhoods within London.