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Building Community with Local Food

Despite my lack of experience and action, I’m really interested in learning more about issues of food sustainability, local food action projects and community gardens. I’m lucky to live in a city with a strong connection to and appreciation for the agricultural roots of our community. Right now we have a farmer’s market that runs twice a week (one of them is located right downtown!) where you can buy plants, fresh fruits and veggies, herbal tea, organic meats, maple syrup and honey products, homemade meals, preserves, and natural beauty products, among others. It’s great to talk with the farmers and small business owners about their products and their day-to-day lives. It’s a whole different experience for me, having grown up in the epitome of surburbia – that sort of cultural wasteland, with strip malls instead of community art centres, where they cut down forests and name the cookie cutter clusters of houses after the names of the trees they’ve destroyed. Maybe I’ve romanticized the idea of rural farm life too much…it’s the intimate connection to the land that is most alluring. I want to get my hands dirty.

There are many other alluring benefits of local food production and education. When people learn new practical living skills, especially in a society that is so based on convenience and technology, it can be really empowering. It gives people the tools to take control of their own health and make their own decisions. It becomes even more beneficial when the community works and learns together. It can bridge the gap between country and city by connecting people to farmers.

Check out these great local projects:

Peterborough Community Garden Network

 “To Foster Community Gardens Through Education, Advocacy, and Networking to increase access to local sustainable food”

Community gardens are where community members grow food together in shared public or private spaces, while sharing skills and knowledge, getting exercise and most importantly, building and sustaining relationships with each other and the land. This is a great way to build up networks. People who share common interests and goals have the potential to come together to create awareness and share ideas in a broader context. Cool!

By The Bushel Community Food Cooperative

The co-operative aims to create and sustain an entirely local food system in Peterborough through making ecologically-responsible organic food available to the community. They act as a supplier, linking the producer and the consumer. Individuals can become members through buying a share/membership. This ensures that they receive weekly food boxes as well as opportunities to participate in events.

Why Local?

1 – To support farmers in our community – we know our doctors and our dentists; let’s get to know the folks who grow our food.

2 – Reduced carbon emissions – Fewer miles equals less carbon emissions. Long distance travel from industrial farms relies on massive amounts of fossil fuels contributing to climate change and poor air quality.

3 – Keep your dollars in the community – Buying direct from farmers or from locally owned businesses that carry locally grown food helps build a stronger local economy.

4 – Variety – Small local farms can offer variety. There are hundreds of varieties of tomatoes, thousands of apple varieties, and we could go on. Big industrial farms are growing only one kind of vegetable in any one field to maximize yield and reduce expenses.

5 – Freshness – Picked when ripe, at peak flavour potential, and do not travel far or long, so all the freshness is maintained.

6 – Nutrition – Picked when ripe, at peak nutritional value. Fruits and vegetables that are packed for long distance travel are harvested before they are ripe, before nutrition and flavour are fully developed. On top of early harvest fruits and vegetables begin to lose nutrients when they are picked so long distance travel results in a fruit that began with minimal nutrients losing more each mile.

7 – Nurturing and protecting our local food supply – Losing farmers from our community also means losing farmland to urban expansion. Currently it is very cheap to buy food from abroad. This is due to lower wages, subsidized fuel costs and industrial sized farms controlled by agri-business. This is not sustainable and one day food from abroad may be very expensive if available at all. Many regions that grow much of our food are deserts that rely on ground water, not rain, for irrigation. Water tables are depleting quicker than they are replenished. Heavy watering also leads to salinization of the soil as sodium leaches up toward the surface. It is the salinization of cropland that has resulted in the collapse of civilizations before us and is responsible for the 200% increase in sodium levels of tomatoes.

Food Not Bombs

Collects excess food from local grocery stores, farmers, bakeries or anyone willing to donate and then everyone gathers together to make a weekly (every Monday) FREE feast for anyone who is hungry. Fighting for food security and sovereignty, social justice against poverty and oppression, and greater community.

 YWCA Just Food

Offers fresh local produce and food staples boxes at regular and subsidized rates (accessible food for all)

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