Join Peggy O’Neil for Engaging Discussions on Food Policy in Upcoming Episodes of “Food for the Future”

Food For the Future with Peggy O'NeilPeggy O’Neil, a passionate home economist and former MLFPC Board Member, is releasing more episodes in Season 3 of her “Food for the Future” podcast! This podcast is your gateway to a world of inspiring stories, insightful conversations, and thought-provoking discussions about the future of food. Get ready to embark on a journey that celebrates local contributions for global encouragement.

Listen to these next episodes to hear from experts like Alicia Martin discussing mandatory food system literacy in education, and Carolyn Webb addressing waste reduction in school lunches and the push for a universal school food program. Explore local farm activities with Susan Lester-Ryan, Co-Owner of Lester’s Farm Market, and gain global insights on World Food Day with Jocelyn Brown Hall from the UN Food & Agriculture Organization. Don’t miss these engaging discussions on food, education, and sustainability!

Listen to the podcast at curiouscast.ca/podcast/1258/food-for-the-future-hosted-by-peggy-oneil/.

  1. Saturday September 23, 2023

Series: Food for Thought

Hear about innovative research on mandatory food system literacy in public education for Grades 1-12 from Alicia Martin, PhD Candidate, University of Guelph.

Learn more about Alicia Martin here:  https://geg.uoguelph.ca/martin-alicia.

  1. Saturday September 30, 2023

Series: Waste Not

Discover ways to avoid waste in school lunches, and what is being done across Canada in support of a universal school food program with guest Carolyn Webb the Coordinator of the Coalition for Healthy School Food (Ontario Chapter).

Learn more about the Coalition for Healthy School here: https://www.healthyschoolfood.ca/on-action.

 

  1. Saturday October 7, 2023

Series: Back to the Future

Find out what is happening for Fall on local, family-run farms, including apple-picking, visits to the pumpkin patch, and farmgate markets from Susan Lester-Ryan who is the Co-Owner of Lester’s Farm Market.

Learn more about Lester’s Farm Market here: https://lestersfarmmarket.com/about.html.

 

  1. Saturday October 14, 2023

Series: Our World

Learn what is happening across the globe on World Food Day (October 16th ), and see how small changes at home can make a big difference. Jocelyn Brown Hall, Executive Director, UN Food & Agriculture Organization (North America)

Learn more about World Food Day here: https://www.fao.org/world-food-day/en.

Green Thumbs in the City: Meet Our Food System Champions, Yvonne and Chris Padadakos!

MLFPC's Food System Champion, Chris and Yvonne PapadakosIn the heart of downtown London, there exists an urban garden that has thrived for over three decades, thanks to the dedication of Yvonne and Chris Padadakos. These two gardeners have pursued their love for growing fresh fruits and vegetables as well as flowers and their garden shows how much they believe in growing your own food in a sustainable way. Though gardening in the city comes with its fair share of challenges—limited space and sunlight, and issues with animal/pest damage – they’ve come up with smart ways to protect their plants, and make the most of the space they have.

Chris and Yvonne Papadakos Veggies

Their garden is a community hub. Over the years, they’ve generously shared their harvests with neighbours and family, and they’ve donated seedlings and seeds to various non-profit organizations. This way, they’re not only sharing their love for gardening but also helping their community in different ways. Yvonne and Chris plan to keep gardening, taking care of their home, and most importantly, teaching their grandchildren what they know about gardening.

Chris and Yvonne Papadakos' garden
Chris and Yvonne Papadakos

 

Nourishing Our Community: Meet Our Food System Champion, Rick Ford & the Kitchen team at Ark Aid Street Mission!

MLFPC's Food System Chamion, Rick Ford & the Kitchen team at Ark Aid Street MissionArk Aid Street Mission and its dedicated team, including kitchen manager Rick Ford, are committed to providing healthy and nutritious food to the community through innovative initiatives like the Encampment Strategy Project. This initiative provides nutrient-rich meals tailored to address the specific health needs, such as IBS, colitis, gum disease, and malnutrition, that affect 80% of community members.

Supported 90% by volunteers and community donations, the Ark emphasizes empathy, specialized diets, hiring individuals with lived experience, and fostering dignity and trust to address the root causes of community challenges. Local businesses, nonprofits, and efforts to minimize waste by composting contribute to the Ark’s success.

Donations are received from a range of corporations and nonprofit organizations like 519Pursuit. They are 98% waste free, with all efforts being made to compost their food leftovers, including eggshells from eggs donated by Burnbrae Farms. Staff and volunteers are invited to take home compost and compost is also given to the Wormery.

The Ark also provides services like counseling, hepatitis clinics, and recovery groups, and collaborates with organizations like CMHA and local hairdressers for specialized support.

Kim and Jacki Representing Ark Aid Street Mission
Kim and Jacki Representing Ark Aid Street Mission

Addressing mental health and personal care needs is crucial for boosting self-esteem and confidence. However, attracting and retaining qualified staff who understand the daily trauma faced by the community remains a challenge, highlighting the need for ongoing awareness, education, and support.

The Ark’s commitment is about compassion in every action. Their dedication to making a difference for the homeless population in London, one person at a time, is inspiring and showcases the potential for positive change within communities.

Supporting The Ark’s mission through donations, volunteering, or sharing their needs is a powerful way to contribute to the well-being of the community. Visit their website arkaidmission.ca learn more about how to get involved with their mission to care for and support our community.

Supporting, Connecting, & Empowering Lives: Meet Our Food System Champion, Northwest London Resource Centre!

MLFPC's Food System Champion, NWLRCThe Northwest London Resource Centre (NWLRC) is a community support leader that prioritizes food literacy and accessibility education for Northwest London’s residents, having reached out to 5,887 unique residents in 2021 alone. They operate an Emergency Food Cupboard in partnership with the London Food Bank’s Mobile Food Bank, have created a multilingual food item checklist, and adopted a needs-based approach to ensure fair distribution.

London Food Bank's Mobile Food Bank TruckThey also run several initiatives like the Cereal Box Challenge, Northwest Eats, and the Community Pop-Up Market to combat different facets of food insecurity. They source locally, partner with organizations, and involve the community, as seen in the Northwest Eats program, which involves youth volunteers preparing meals for distribution to families in need. Their Community Pop-Up Market, in partnership with Urban Roots, provides free, freshly-picked produce, distributed at their Sherwood Mall location.

NWLRC Emergency Food Cupboard

They offer various youth and family programs designed to support skill & leadership development, including the Cereal Box Challenge, Northwest Eats, Community Pop-up Market, SmartStart, YouChef, and YEP & JEP. The latter is a partnership with Type Diabeat-it to introduce healthy African cuisine to combat health risks like diabetes, while supporting awareness of racialized people’s experiences.

The NWLRC is always looking to expand and improve its services, its food programs, and collaborate with other organizations in a new space under construction. NWLRC Community ConnectionsThey are committed to addressing food insecurity in a sustainable, impactful way by combining education, community involvement, and local organization collaboration. This journey has been rewarding and challenging, and they believe that, together with the community, they can create a more sustainable and supportive food system for all.

 

Nourishing Change, Empowering Lives: Meet Our Food System Champion, LIFE*SPIN!

In the early days of the pandemic, Jacqueline Thompson, the Executive Director of LIFE*SPIN noticed a need in the community for healthy, organic, and accessible food. She partnered with Jeff Pastorius, the founder of On The Move Organics, to unite their efforts & create an initiative called the Community Food Box Project. Together, they recognized the need to address food insecurity that was amplified by the pandemic. The Community Food Box Project emerged as a lifeline, connecting local sustainable agriculture to the homes of families facing barriers to reliable food access.

From 2020-2022, the Community Food Box Project showcased remarkable dedication & generosity, delivering over 68,825 meals which were free, locally-sourced, & organic produce. Additionally, the project was able to reduce its environmental impact significantly by minimising its use of plastic. The program extended its reach to benefit 1,862 children, showing its huge impact & reach within the community. The partnership between LIFE*SPIN & On The Move Organics continues to this day, ensuring that there is ongoing support to the community through these food boxes.

In addition to alleviating hunger in the community through food distribution, LIFE*SPIN offers a variety of programming & resources via their “Food Security Education” initiatives. They teach their audience members about the importance, ease, & accessibility of gardening & gardening practices that can lead to adopting sustainable habits. Take “Pocket-Sized Farms” as an example—a children’s day camp program educating the London youth about environmental stewardship, gardening & agricultural literacy, food systems, & community building.

LIFE*SPIN stands for “Low-Income Family Empowerment * Sole Support Parent Information Network”

They remain strong advocates for families, continuing to partner with others in the community to create positive, uplifting change.

Learn more about LIFE*SPIN’s mission and services on their website: lifespin.org.

Introducing the New “Food for the Future” Podcast Episodes: Hosted by Peggy O’Neil!

Food For the Future with Peggy O'NeilWe’re thrilled to announce that Peggy O’Neil, a passionate home economist and former MLFPC Board Member, is releasing new episodes in her “Food for the Future” podcast! This podcast is your gateway to a world of inspiring stories, insightful conversations, and thought-provoking discussions about the future of food. Get ready to embark on a journey that celebrates local contributions for global encouragement.

Listen to the podcast at curiouscast.ca/podcast/1258/food-for-the-future-hosted-by-peggy-oneil/.

Release Schedule:

  1. Saturday August 26, 2023 – Released! Listen NOW!

Series: Food for Thought

Discover through speaker Program Director Leslie Noble of 4H Canada, on how youth across Canada learn leadership skills and make a difference in their communities in agri-food.

Learn more about 4-H here: https://4-h-canada.ca

 

  1. Saturday September 2, 2023

Series: Waste Not

Learn from Ecological Farmer Kim Barker of Mulberry Moon Farm on how community supported agriculture works, and the ways farmers and consumers collaborate to reduce food loss and waste.

Learn more about Mulberry Moon Farm here: https://www.mulberrymoonfarm.ca

 

  1. Saturday September 9, 2023

 Series: Back to the Future

Find out from Executive Director Kristin Enns-Kavanagh of Saskatchewan History and Folklore Society, on how folklore imparts knowledge about life in agri-food from days gone by, and how it helps inform our world today.

Learn more about the Saskatchewan History & Folklore Society: https://www.skhistory.ca.

 

  1. Saturday September 16, 2023

Series: Our World

Hear from President Max Hansgen of the National Farmers Union how farmers stand together across Canada to participate in the United Nations’ decade of Family Farmers (2019-2028)

Learn more about The National Farmers Union:  https://www.nfu.ca/about/

Learn more about the UN Decade of Family Farming: https://www.fao.org/family-farming-decade/en/

Animal & Community Ally: Meet our Food System Champion, Zhawanoogbiik Danielle Riley of Riley Ranch of Three Fires!

Danielle Riley is MLFPC's Food System ChampionSixteen-year-old Zhawanoogbiik Danielle Riley embodies the spirit of compassion and community care. She has demonstrated great initiative as a Food System Champion by helping connect others with the resources they need to care for their animals.

From Chippewas of the Thames, an Anishinaabe First Nations band government, her childhood dream was to be able to care for animals in her own business. During the pandemic, it became apparent to Danielle that there was great need for pet supplies, including pet food, from pet owners who were struggling due to the economic downturn.

In response to the fast-growing need, she was able to raise donations to supply those who were facing challenges in accessing the things they needed for their animals and started her initiative, an animal food bank.

The shelves of her food bank tell a powerful story, reflecting the growing demand for support. In July 2022, 120 bags of dog food were distributed. Dani’s commitment shines, whether connecting people with resources, envisioning warmer shelters for outdoor pets, or exploring paths toward healing through her love for animals. She hopes that she can continue to connect others with the resources and care that they need.

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.