GrowTO Urban Agriculture Action Plan Launched!

August 15th, 2012

Toronto has long been known as a North American leader in the global movement for sustainable food.  A wealth of innovative projects—both small and large —attests to Toronto’s diverse agriculture and food cultures.

The City’s government, institutions and community organizations have generally supported the food-growing efforts of Torontonians. In some ways, though, the infrastructure around these movements—from policies to practical support—has not kept pace with the enthusiasm and energy that exist to move urban agriculture forward.

There are many examples of simple changes, as well as some that are more complex, that would make an enormous difference to urban agriculture efforts in this city. It is within this context of “moving forward” and “scaling up” that this report has been written.

Many people and organizations have been involved in developing the recommendations in this report. We have assisted in identifying gaps and policy hurdles and, most importantly, we have recommended actions and changes that will help Toronto’s urban agriculture movement grow and flourish. The enthusiasm with which everyone embraced this task, and the energy devoted to it, are evidence of the commitment of numerous people and organizations to “growing the city” (hence GrowTO) and continuing to make Toronto an innovator and a leader in urban agriculture.

This Action Plan reflects our vision of a green city full of fresh, local, healthy, nutritious, affordable, culturally diverse, and flavourful food available for all.

Why GrowTO?

In 2010 the Metcalf Foundation published “Scaling Up Urban Agriculture in Toronto: Building the Infrastructure,” outlining key opportunities and barriers for growing food in Toronto. One year later the GrowTO process—consisting of four moderated discussions and two action-planning sessions–was launched to delve more deeply into the issues identified in the paper, and develop an action plan for Toronto.

GrowTO was created to:

  • Bring together the stakeholders who play a vital role in urban agriculture in Toronto;
  • Propose solutions to different Divisions across the City of Toronto in order to increase support for urban agriculture;
  • Highlight the economic and social development opportunities that urban agriculture can bring to communities and neighbourhoods;
  • Focus attention on the untapped potential of urban agriculture in Toronto;
  • Involve, inform and propose both policy solutions and on-the-ground actions that builds and supports urban agriculture.

GrowTO and this Action Plan are a “work-in-progress” and involve many people and organizations sho play different roles.  Just as collaborative effort has been the defining approach for urban agriculture activities in Toronto, we envision further collaborative efforts to move urban agriculture forward. We envision a significant and ongoing role for City government and City staff in terms of supporting and encouraging diverse urban agriculture initiatives throughout Toronto, working in partnership with the range of community organizations and community food leaders across the city.

The following organizations and institutions collaborated to develop the GrowTO Action Plan:
Afri-Can Food Basket; City of Toronto Environment Office; Cultivate Toronto; Everdale; Evergreen; FarmStart; FoodShare; Fresh City Farms; Greater Toronto Area Agriculture Action Committee; Green Roofs for Healthy Cities; Green Thumbs Growing Kids; Greenest City; Housing Services Corporation; Metcalf Foundation; MetroAg, North York Harvest; Not Far From the Tree; Ryerson University; The Stop Community Food Centre; Toronto and Region Conservation Authority; Toronto Community Garden Network; Toronto Community Housing Corporation; Toronto District School Board; Toronto Food Policy Council; Toronto Public Health; Toronto Urban Growers; Toronto Youth Food Policy Council; University of Toronto; West End Food Coop; YMCA; York University.

Download the Action Plan here: