Blog August 21, 2012
A world of knowledge on the table at International Urban Agriculture Summit
By Aimee Carson, Senior Manager, Community Development
The first of its kind in Canada, the International Urban Agriculture Summit brought together food experts from across North America and Europe to discuss the current state of urban food systems, and to explore the role of urban agriculture in 21st-century city building.
Co-hosted by Food Share and Green Roofs for Healthy Cities, the summit featured stories of food advocacy from across the globe that are changing the face of how food is produced, purchased and consumed in city centres. It also provided time to celebrate current achievements and to recognize emerging work in Toronto, such as the development of an Ontario Food and Nutrition Strategy and the launch of Grow TO’s Urban Agriculture Action Plan.
The summit kicked off with a day of special workshops and tours across the city; one of which was hosted at Evergreen Brick Works and profiled best practices in food garden design and implementation in schools across Canada. The workshop exemplified the theme of the Summit—a need to ensure cross-disciplinary collaboration and the co-creation of projects that support individual and community participation.
Over the rest of the four-day summit, local and international speakers shed light on the many successes and challenges that are taking shape across New York, Detroit, Montreal, the Netherlands and others. Will Allen, Urban Agriculture guru from Milwaukee, gave the keynote address that left conference goers in awe of the cutting-edge work that his organization, Growing Power, is doing to promote food justice through the development of Community Food Systems that help people to grow, produce, market and distribute food in a sustainable manner.
As Wayne Roberts, former head of the Toronto Food Policy council, noted at the end of the conference, “As our world changes and becomes defined by urban centres, we need to change the ways we interact with each other and with nature.”
Food is certainly a piece of this, and the more we start to embrace new (and old) ways of doing things, welcoming food production into our cities, and advocating for policies that make this possible, the closer we will move to a food system that is ecologically sound, and able to provide fresh, affordable food for all.