Elizabeth Harris, Riverdale and Brick Works Farmers` Markets
Local Food Hero 2011
Elizabeth Harris has contributed enormously to the local food community in Toronto. She has a vivacious personality and knows how to get things done. Harris founded the Friends of Riverdale Farm and established its brick oven for baking wood-smoke pizzas and bread. She then began the Farmers’ Market at Riverdale Farm, which has become a vital neighbourhood gathering place. Following this she moved on to apply this same strategy at the Evergreen Brick Works.
Harris has had a profound impact on the lives of Edmund Rek, his wife, Dawn Woodward, his daughter Evelyn, and their business, Evelyn’s Crackers. Rek and his wife met Elizabeth at the Evergreen Brick Works Farmers’ Market in December 2008. She tried their crackers and loved them. Harris gave samples to influential chefs and provided encouragement to the family to sell their product at local markets. They now sell at a number of markets and distribute to several stores. They believe they owe their success to Elizabeth and her leadership.
[From the April 13, 2011 TFPC meeting minutes: “Lauren Baker announced with sadness that Elizabeth Harris, our Local Food Hero in February, 2011, passed away on March 8, 2011, after a long struggle with cancer. Donations were collected in memory of Elizabeth, to be given to CASA, her charity of choice in Mexico that she worked with for many years.”]
Unique Food System Problem
As consumers we are largely disengaged from the process of how our food arrives from farm to table. As a result of this lack of awareness, we indirectly support unsustainable agricultural practices that hurt the environment and food producers when we purchase conventional, internationally-sourced food products, instead of organic and local food products.
Unique Food System Solution
The Riverdale Farm provides education to thousands of school children each year about where our food comes from and the importance of environmental conservation. Local events, community philanthropy and the promotion of local, organic products are just some of the ways in which the Riverdale Farm and Brick Works Farmers’ Market give back to the city, socially and financially, while positively supporting the environment.