13 Things to Look Forward to in 2013

In the spirit of looking forward to the new year, here is a list of 13 events, projects, issues and publications on the horizon for 2013.

1. More from the Food Strategy Team
It has been really exciting to see the momentum behind the food strategy at Toronto Public Health. Working with this amazing team was one of my great pleasures of 2012, and I look forward to fostering even more collaboration between the TFPC and food strategy this year. Some of the initiatives that are underway include: the mobile fresh food truck, healthy corner stores, food access mapping, and the food skills and employability project. The TFPC blog will provide updates on these projects.

2. Food Biodiversity
On Monday, January 28th (details TBA shortly), Mexican Activist and Scholar Gustavo Esteva will be speaking at the University of Toronto on food biodiversity and local and indigenous food movements. This is a not to be missed event – Gustavo is a fantastic speaker. I predict food biodiversity will be a hot issue for 2013 with growing interest in urban biodiversity, the impacts of GMOs, and urban agriculture.

3. Street Food and Food Trucks
The TFPC is anxiously awaiting a report from the Street Food Working Group, scheduled to come out in early 2013. Here’s hoping for policy recommendations that enable a thriving street food culture for Toronto, similar to Portland, Vancouver and many other cities across North America.

4. Canadian Municipal Food Policy
Rod MacRae and Kendal Donahue from York University have been working on a scan of municipal food policy across Canada. The TFPC is partnering with the Vancouver Food Policy Council and the Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute on this report which documents over 50 initiatives across the country, and is scheduled to be published in February.

5. Urban Agriculture
After City Council endorsement of the GrowTO Urban Agriculture Action Plan last year, there are many good things ahead for urban agriculture in the City of Toronto. The Black Creek Community Farm will open in the spring of 2013, City staff are working on an inventory of gardens and farms, and the TFPC is writing a guide to growing and selling food in the city.

6. Food and Farm Finance
How can we finance the good food sector across Ontario? What financing mechanisms and tools are most appropriate for small and medium farmers and food entrepreneurs? How does our sector connect with the growing interest in angel investment, social finance and social purpose business? A group of people and organizations are meeting to discuss these questions and more. Stay tuned for an event on this topic in 2013.

7. Resilient Urban Food Systems
The TFPC has been invited to participate in a forum on Resilient Urban Food Systems in Bonn, Germany in the spring of 2013, and I am looking forward to the possibility of exchanging ideas with people from other municipalities around the world.

8. Growing Food Justice Initiative
FoodShare, in partnership with many other organizations, is supporting the ongoing development of the Growing Food and Justice for All initiative, modeled after Growing Power’s work in the U.S.  The TFPC looks forward to participating in the food justice trainings that are being planned.

9. Inclusive Canadian Food Strategy
There has been a lot of talk about developing a Canadian Food Strategy and national food policy. The TFPC has expressed concern about the Conference Board of Canada’s initiative, and has written an open letter outlining why we need an inclusive food policy development process.

10. World Crops Feeding Diversity
In partnership with the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre and Toronto Public Health, the TFPC is finishing a report on improving access to more diverse, locally grown foods in Toronto.  This work has been funded by the McConnell Foundation, and we hope to continue it with a concrete initiative linking farmers growing these crops to retailers and communities.

11. Neighbourhood Food Networks
Across the City there are many neighbourhood groups involved in community food projects doing incredible work. Inspired by Vancouver where there is a strong network of neighbourhood food groups, the TFPC would like to explore how these groups can be better supported by the City.

12. Revival of the Local Food Act
We almost got a Local Food Act in 2012. I was sitting in the Ontario Legislature during the first reading of the Act in October, and the following week the government was prorogued. We will be working with Sustain Ontario and other partners to revive and improve the Act in 2013.

13. Bring Food Home Provincial Conference
Sustain Ontario has announced the dates for next year’s Bring Food Home conference – November 17-20th in Windsor, Ontario. Put this conference in your calendar and book your train ticket! I am planning to organize a session on migrant labour issues.

All the best for a fruitful 2013.

Lauren Baker