The Toronto Food Policy Council led the effort for a community gardening strategy in Toronto, resulting in an expansion from 50 community gardens in 1991 to 122 in 2001. Representatives from the Toronto Food Policy Council chaired the Interdepartmental Working Group that crafted “Supports for Urban Food Production: Creating a Garden City, 1993.” The Community Gardens Program (CGP) in the City of Toronto was initiated in 1997 through a partnership with FoodShare and the Toronto Food Policy Council. The TFPC also helped to coordinate GROW T.O.GETHER Community Gardeners, and its successor, the Toronto Community Gardening Network (TCGN).
It was a suggestion of the TCGN that Toronto’s City Council adopt the 1999 Community Garden Action Plan that calls for the creation of a community garden in a park in every ward. Since that time TCGN members have received support from Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation. By working together TCGN and Parks, Forestry and Recreation have created a supportive climate for community gardening that is looked to as a model by groups and municipalities across the country and abroad.
Toronto City Council has endorsed the recommendation of the Environmental Task Force encouraging the Parks, Forestry & Recreation Division to advance Community Gardens in City Parks and other City-owned lands. The City of Toronto has compiled resources for the implementation of community gardens, allotment gardens, and children’s gardens.
The City built on this range of programs in 2004 through a report called Our Common Grounds which initiated a professional gardener certificate program. Toronto Parks and Recreation currently maintains 54 community garden sites on City parkland. Between 2009 and 2013, 16 new community gardens were created, an increase of 41% (Toronto Vital Signs Report, 2013).
In 2013 Toronto Public Health and the TFPC launched From the Ground Up: Assessing the Risks and Maximizing the Benefits of Gardening on Urban Soils. This is an easy-to-use guide for people wanting to start food gardens in the city.
The full staff report is entitled Assessing Urban Impacted Soil for Urban Gardening: Decision Support Tool Technical Report and Rationale.