We’ve formed partnerships with amazing farmers and artisans.
- Amy -- Red Pocket FarmScarborough
- AndreiNorth York
- Dan - Lionheart FarmsNorth York
- Emma and ScottToronto
- Jessica -- Sage RisingDowntown
- Jessica -- Sweet Gale Gardens
- JulianaNorth York
- Phil CollinsMount Albert
As a seven year old my job was to bring a large cup of tall dark coffee to my gardening grandfather. I used to admire how much taller and darker than me he was, standing there, smiling down at me for being so helpful. He would give me a delicious ripe tomato to munch on. I wanted to be just like him. Farming has run through the blood of my ancestors for many generations, so in a way I am simply indulging the calling. Getting to this point has not been easy--it took finishing a Film Production degree at York for me to realize that my purpose on Mama Earth is bound up in food sovereignty, production, and activism. My goal this season at Fresh City is to grow rainbow-coloured foods, as they hold nutritional value that cannot be found in their common-coloured counterparts. Further down the line, my dream is to build my own earth-sheltered home and food forest. I wish to make permaculture in city parks and on rooftops a reality, so that everyone can have a hand in being empowered and producing their own fresh local food.
Aga grew up in Guelph, Ontario, where she shared her love for food and interest in sustainable food systems with a locally minded community. She moved to Toronto to study Film Production but her Polish peasant farmer blood keeps pulling her back out to the fields. Grateful to have found a lovely community of like-minded farmers at Fresh City Farms, her decision to learn how to grow has taken root with rubber boots and hoe in hand. When she's not out in the field, she can be spotted riding her bike, fermenting foods, cooking up a storm and working the odd film set.
Amy -- Red Pocket Farm Scarborough
Amy Cheng is a new farmer in the first year of developing her farm business. This is her 5th season growing food and 2nd season farming full-time. Her food interests began almost 10 years ago, during a summer of volunteering in a farming village in Costa Rica. It was there that she awoke to her own disconnection from food and developed her current passion for learning about our food system, how to grow food, and her belief in food education. Hence that seed was sown, and she has been nurturing it since, through her time living in British Columbia, Alberta, and most recently, Saskatchewan. In the past 5 years, she actively pursued this 'hobby' food interest, through involvement with community gardening groups in Saskatoon, the University of Saskatchewan's horticulture club, and enrollment in Ryerson University's online food security courses. But in the summer of 2011, she decided it was time to answer (and test) the call to farm. This lead to her first full season internship and the completion of an Organic Farming Certificate at Everdale Organic Farm and Environmental Learning Centre, in Hillsburgh, Ontario. Since then, she has caught the farming bug and continued on to complete a farm business planning course this winter. Now, with her business plan in one hand, her trusty hoe in the other, and big dreams in her heart, she is excited for another season of feeding people, and to see where her farm journey takes her. When not farming, she is pursuing her 'pre-farming'/off-farm work in the arts (fine arts, graphics and arts production) and community education, explaining her farming decision to her family, and rock climbing.
Andrei North York
With a history degree from York, Andrei was always aware of the importance of proper land management; but this was all armchair stuff. So while my interest in farming and permaculture was growing, there was no feasible way to explore this interest. Then, an year after graduation, Fresh City Farms provided the perfect opportunity to apply himself to something more meaningful and productive right in the middle of Toronto. The long-term goal would be to get a small plot of land outside of Toronto and explore the world of permaculture in more depth.
Arlene Throness is passionate about growing, sharing and enjoying food. Her love of food has lead her to work on farms and in kitchens. She has spent the last several years working on various urban agriculture projects in Montreal including Concordia's Rooftop Greenhouse, City Farm School and Alternatives Rooftop Garden Project. She has a bachelor of Political Science and Human Geography from Concordia University and is a 2012 graduate of the Linnaea Farm Ecological Garden Design Program on Cortes Island, BC where she earned a certificate in Permaculture Design. Having grown up as a city kid in downtown Vancouver, Arlene has had to learn the basics of gardening from the ground up. She is always excited to learn more and to share and trade knowledge with other new gardeners. Prior working with food, Arlene worked as a treeplanter and landscaper for eight years where she developed a strong work ethic and a love for working outside. She is excited to have the opportunity to direct her hard work and energy to urban farming here in Toronto and hopes to one day make it her full-time job.
After working and living for 7 years abroad in Europe and London, I have returned to Toronto with a strong calling to re-connect with the land and lay down some roots. Big city living has made me re-evaluate my daily actions and heart's desire. I left my previous employment and currently I am motivated to put my energy into producing and sharing good quality, real food with people who recognize how essential, timeless and important this connection is for the earth and for our multi-dimensional wellbeing. In developing strong and supportive communities growing organic produce together with the correct intentions of love, transparency and sharing, I believe we can better ourselves and the earth while living whole heartedly and sustainably. This represents a complete change in career for me, and I'm jumping right in!
Dan - Lionheart Farms North York
I grew up on an acre of prairie in rural Manitoba, from which my parents coaxed enough vegetables and fruit to feed themselves and 5 children. What we didn't eat fresh, my parents preserved. I was interested in both the kitchen and the garden from a young age, so I learned a lot about how to grow and preserve food - which is about to come in VERY handy! But I didn't realize what a good thing I had at the time, so I moved away to get an engineering degree and take a job in the automotive industry, eventually ending up in Toronto. I chose engineering because I wanted to help make the world a better place; but over the course of years I realized that I was designing expensive toys for rich people, and those toys were compounding the problem, not solving anything. I also came to understand the term "wage slave" - I was working only for the paycheck, and got little personal satisfaction from my job. Eventually I thought back to my childhood and realized that growing food was what I needed to do! I planted a backyard vegetable garden and began taking farm courses; and this year - finally! - I'm growing vegetables for market at Downsview Park with Fresh City Farms. I expect to put my engineering skills to good use on the farm, and in a few years I will have the knowledge and experience to expand significantly, and make farming my full-time career and livelihood.
Emma and Scott Toronto
Already looking towards a future in farming, Scott and Emma are very excited to get their hands dirty this season under the guidance of Fresh City. A country girl, hailing from the West Kootenays, Emma is pleased to abandon her desk job for a chance to take up a hoe within the city limits of Toronto. Success or fail, she's keen to learn and grow alongside her sprouts with the help of her partner Scott. Scott, who grew up on a beef farm, knows full well the challenges to creating a financially viable farm. While he works in the city as a videographer/educator he wants to expand his skill-set and knowledge surrounding small-scale market gardens in hopes of one day stewarding his own piece of land. He recently finished a documentary on farm succession, which can be seen here. (http://vimeo.com/40628394)
Recently completed my bachelors in Environmental Studies at York University, always had a interest in growing food locally but living in the city the idea of actually farming seemed like a fantasy. Long and behold, I found Fresh City Farms and the opportunity to learn how to grow my own veggies with the support and guidance of some pretty knowledgeable people. Working alongside my friend Andrei (who also has a strong interest in farming) there is no doubt in my mind that this year will be an amazing journey.
With a young, growing family Hugh decided he needed a change of pace. Tired of the business trips, conference calls and constantly buzzing blackberry, Hugh wanted to find a career that would allow him to move to a rural community away from the hustle and bustle of the big city, so he could enjoy nature and spend more time with family. After learning about Fresh City, Hugh decided to give farming a try. In 2011 he volunteered part-time at a farm in Brampton. The following year he took a leave of absence to farm for six months full-time. In early 2013, Hugh took the plunge. He left his 15-year high-tech career as a professional engineer and product manager for the world of compost, earthworms and delicious organic veggies.
I have been a backyard gardener for some twenty something years now in Toronto. I started out with my children just growing strawberries and summer vegetables, but I noticed they tasted much better than the ones in the supermarket so I continued. I got interested in engaging in organic sustainable farming because it is important to know to know my farmer, their farming practices, and where my food is coming from! As a Vegan this is ideal for me because real food is my medicine. I hope that this will inspire others to think outside of the box and to move toward supporting an empowered, accountable, and justifiable food production system in Canada. I also want financial resources to become available to urban farmers like myself so that this can be a sustainable self-employment opportunity for people who want to live with dignity and contribute greatly to the Canadian and the Global food production system.
My name is Jason and I’m your average Joe. I eat junk food, sleep too little, and worry too much about bills. I’m a supply teacher for the Peel District School Board, full-time eater of food. I decided to leave teaching full-time 2 year ago because I needed a change in my life. I am taking the Landscape Technician program at Humber College because of my passion in Horticulture and appreciation of nature. In early October 2012, upon taking a course called, “Sustainable Urban Landscapes”, we had 1 lecture on urban agriculture and an intro to permaculture. I was instantly interested and surprised at how such a meaningful topic could be reduced to 1 lecture. Through the research of my friend Ingrid, I came to know of Fresh City Farms, and attended a promotional workshop. Overcoming over all my objections, Ingrid and I decided to partner together, share a plot and become junior member farmers with Fresh City Farms. My objective for this season is to grow easily grown vegetables and have a successful harvest and yield. I want to eat healthier nutritious foods, experience the process of urban farming, learn from other urban farmers, and understand more about markets and sell some of our harvest. I want to educate and share my bounty of food with friends, family, and strangers, showing them the benefits of locally grown organic produce. Furthermore, I hope to continue enjoying working with plants in a natural environment amidst a bustling urban Toronto backdrop.
Jessica -- Sage Rising Downtown
Jessica grew up in Alberta, where her family had a large garden that she wanted nothing to do with! But after living Halifax and then New Zealand before moving to Toronto her green thumb finally woke up. She had the opportunity to volunteer on organic farms in the south island in New Zealand as well as get to know folks doing permaculture and other rad social and environmental things. She came to Fresh City Farms after completing her Masters degree in Political Science at the University of Toronto. She has a love for growing and sharing the yield and is perusing certification in Horticultural Therapy alongside her city farming. At Fresh City she is a member farmer and member farmer coordinator. When Jessica is not at the farm she spends her time learning about and doing social permaculture, community building and support, and playing in the dirt.
Jessica -- Sweet Gale Gardens
Jessica grew up in the Upstate New York countryside. After finishing her Bachelors in Environmental Studies and English Literature, in addition to her Masters of Landscape Architecture, she moved to Toronto. In the past, she worked at Shamrock Hill Farms, Berkshire Botanical Gardens, and various university greenhouses. Her love of all things green and growing brought her to volunteer at Fresh City. This growing season she is taking the plunge and has started Sweet Gale Gardens: a small landscape design company focusing on native plant gardens and a small fresh cut flower farm at Fresh City’s Downsview location. When Jessica is not at the farm, she can be found teaching yoga, hiking, cooking or traveling.
Jonah was born and raised in the heart of Toronto with little exposure to fresh fruits and vegetables as a child. Being a curious person by nature, Jonah realized from a young age that real food comes from the soil rather than the grocery store. This sparked a strong interest in growing food in his backyard beginning when he was only 14 years old. Since then, Jonah has continued to grow food every summer and share the fruits of his labour. Jonah strongly believes in growing food locally, organically and sustainably for the protection of our ecosystems and our own health. With Jonah’s recent completion of his Bachelor of Commerce degree, he would like to start a sustainable farming business in the near future.
Juliana North York
Juliana grew up in Toronto watching her grandmother lovingly tend her vast tomato, bean and zucchini crops (among others) year after year. This left an indelible impression as evidenced by her small scale gardening projects and various rural and farming adventures. She is now embarking on a more serious project - urban farming a plot of land located at St. Clair and Oakwood with her mom, Mary, who is an experienced, knowledgeable and enthusiastic gardener. Juliana is currently studying Culinary Management at George Brown College and holds a diploma in Applied Holistic Nutrition from the Institute of Holistic Nutrition in Toronto.
Meagan Gartlan is a Registered Massage Therapist and an Artist. Before Meagan started her career in Massage she planted trees seasonally in remote areas of Canada for 9 years. Living in the city full time now, Meagan has joined Fresh City Farms to keep that familiar feeling of working outside and staying a little more connected to the earth. Learning how to productively grow food for herself and her community has always been a goal which she hopes to achieve over this coming growing season!
Mélisanne has a Masters degree in Environmental Studies from York University. She specializes in environmental education and urban gardening. She developed an educational program dealing with environmental concerns and community building in community gardens. She is now putting her research into action through U FEED, a collaborative learning program for newcomers to urban farming. The goal of U FEED is to bring together ideas about farming, environment, education, and community. It is designed to give participants a genuine farming experience, within a supportive framework, challenging mainstream food and supplying opportunities for growth and development. Mélisanne's involvement in urban agriculture started during her studies in biology in Montreal. She volunteered with The Rooftop Garden project and learnt how to grow organic food in gardening containers. She moved to Toronto to take part in the city’s vibrant urban agriculture movement. She works at Fresh City Farms as a Senior Member Farmer, Assistant Farm Manager, and Canning Instructor. Small-scale farming is now part of her lifestyle, from planning and planting to preserving and enjoying fresh healthy food. Gardening and farming are for Mélisanne a social endeavor. Her experience as a Garden Coordinator at Maloca Community Garden deepened her appreciation of collective initiative surrounding food and learning. She believes in creative, community-driven solutions for improving the environment and living green.
I grew up in the burbs of Toronto, with no significant exposure to farming. I got bit by the farming bug while attending the university of Guelph, where I studied environmental governance. When I had time off from school I would help out at the guelph centre for urban organic farming. I would go there to procrastinate, and when spending an afternoon cleaning off old can lids or hauling and spreading garbage bag fulls of manure or ploughing through a field of twitch grass with a wheel hoe was still was more appealing than actually doing my homework, I figured I should make the switch to farming. I was given a flyer for Fleming College's sustainable agriculture program, so i dropped out of guelph, volunteered at fresh city farms in the fall where the Fresh City crew showed me the ropes. Now I'm in school at fleming soaking up as much as I can before the farming season starts. I cant wait to get outside and onto the farm again!
Growing up a rural community in Jamaica of mostly farmers and my father being a professional one who worked with the government for years, I was very privileged to always have good food on the dinner table. However, that quickly changed when I migrated to North America. I realized consuming the food here impacted my health in a negative way! So I made the change in terms of doing my own meals while educating myself. I have seen friends and family members gotten sick and even paid the ultimate price by consuming unconventional foods. I decided to do my own in-depth research in food security and food insecurity by starting out with a health and wellness coaching course and creating dishes, salad dressings and sauces from scratch. I realized the only way to guarantee good food is to grown my own. Working with Fresh City gives me the opportunity to do just that and to interact with like minded people; ultimately working to have a healthier world. My motto is "health wellness fitness and vitality is not a fashion, but a lifestyle".
Phil Collins Mount Albert
Phillip Collins is owner, and principal of HighRes Design and co-founder of Fresh City Farms. He is excited to be raising awareness of the benefits of organic urban agriculture at a community level, and believes that sustainability is an ideal that society needs to embrace as an infinite goal. He holds a bachelor of landscape architecture from The University of Guelph, and is a fully licensed member of the Ontario Association of Landscape Architects, and is an accredited Green Roof Professional through Green Roofs for Healthy Cities.
I grew up in Orangeville Ontario, after graduating high school I moved to Waterloo Ontario to pursue a degree in Ecology at the University of Waterloo. I am currently pursing a Masters degree in Environmental Studies and learning about growing organic food through Fresh City Farms. I have developed a strong interest in healthy lifestyles, and the environment over the years. My other hobbies include cooking, yoga, fitness, canoeing, hiking, and knitting. I joined the member farmers to grow my own local organic food to share with friends, family and other urban dwellers.