March 28 marked the groundbreaking event for the Young Urban Farmer's CSA project. Before I go any further I will define my terms and explain what exactly is a "CSA" and what exactly is a "Young Urban Farmer"
Ahem..I hope I have this right..
Young Urban Farmers is a small business started by Torontonion and fellow young person Christopher Wong. YUF promotes food sustainability by returning ownership over your food in the simplest way imaginable; by planting the food in your own backyard! Chris has set up a system compatible with all of that unused space in most people's backyard and offers a chance to engage with their space by setting up and maintaining family sized organic vegetable gardens.
Somewhere along the way Chris met Elaine Howarth and they discussed the idea of starting an Urban CSA. first of its kind in Toronto. !!
CSA stands for Community Shared Agriculture. Traditionally CSAs have been set up so that eaters (usually a family) buys a share for a certain amount of money from a rural farm and in return receives a box of fresh produce every week spanning the entire growing season (approximately form June-October). This has been a popular way for farmers to guarantee a certain amount of revenue for their growing season and build relationships directly with their consumers by bypassing food distributors.
The Idea of an Urban CSA borrows the concept of Pre-bought shares of their "farm" in return for a box of fresh produce every week. However instead of the food being grown on a rural farm, the food is being grown right in the city! In this case the food is being grown the backyards of homeowners who have graciously donated this space. So the outcome is that Elaine and Chris and their army of volunteers (that's us!) will set up meticulously calculated organic vegetable gardens in about 8 donated backyards across Toronto. It is the hope that enough people will buy a share ( I believe its about $300 for the entire growing season) that this initiative will be a wild success!
There are several reasons that Toronto is ready for this initiative:
1. Local and Organic Food are in high demand and are often inaccessible. Promoting Urban Agriculture directly links the need for good food with the possibility to get it in our back yards (and if we don't have out own backyard we can connect with organizations like YIMBY (Yes In My BackYArd) or the Toronto Community Garden Network)
2. Some of the most fertile land in Canada is right underneath my very house-- and yours!
3. As was very evident at the Youth Food Systems Fair I spoke about in the previous entry--there is a growing group of young people who are enthusiastic and ready to change the way our Food systems currently are.
4. The first step is the hardest! With the YUF-CSA getting off the ground, this idea will spread like wild fire--inspiring more and more people to see how possible it is to grow their own food !
so now that I have hopefully illustrated a clearer picture of this New Initiative I will hopefully be back with some pictures and details on more of the beginnings of this awesome project.
Yesterday I joined 6 other enthusiastic gardeners and spent 5 or so hours turning one family's boring backyard into a ready to plant urban farm. We pulled up all the sod, built a composter, SERIOUSLY aerated the land and double-dug our way to producing 4/14 planting beds.
With an aching back and some serious battle bruises I look forward to ho-ing away at the rest of the lawns that make up YUF's Urban Farm!
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