Fresh City Farms, Downsview Park, Canada
Downsview Park is an urban park situated in northern Toronto. With the desire to investigate the viability of urban farming and understand community interest, the park launched a pilot project in 2011 which showed there was a keen interest for food sustainable programs to be integrated into the urban environment. In 2019 Fresh City Farms was awarded the contract to operate a permanent 5 acre urban farm in the park either side of a gas station and an industrial park.
Fresh City’s founder Ran Goel recognised how reliant cities are on imported and processed foods and wanted to start a company which can offer an alternative organic, fresh and sustainable option. The operation has expanded so much that they now collaborate with other local farmers who share their values in order to deliver their services. The company feeds an estimated 40,000 people a month across Southern Ontario through an online ordering system and within retail stores. On Sundays they operate their ‘u-pick’ program which allows locals to come and harvest their own selection of produce.
Having recently signed a new lease with Downsview Park expanding the site to 11 acres, Fresh City Farms intend to subdivide 9.5 acres of the land into smaller plots for social organizations to farm. The YMCA will be farming a plot as part of a youth program. Another will be operated by a single and racialised mothers group. Goel says by sharing the land with other farmers and groups they are creating a sense of community. The farm also offers workshops teaching about food justice and sustainability. This kind of urban farm models how successful projects can be that aim to transform existing open green spaces in cities into productive landscapes. The scale and success of Fresh City Farm indicates how popular an urban farm can be within a community.
For further information see the project’s own website.
Image: Residents can harvest their own crops before purchasing. (Source: Carrot City, 2022)
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