It’s early on a snowy Saturday as Fresh City’s member farmers gather in the greenhouse at Downsview Park for our second official workshop. Farmers slowly come in to the greenhouse, some soggy from bike rides from Queen Street, others a little groggy from leaving early from Scarborough, but we’ve all arrived. The workshop is all about our city farm plan. At first you’d think a farm plan would be a reflection of contemporary agriculture – straight rows, monocrop, straight thinking. Not at this farm. At our farm we have a fresh approach to city farming. Combining the ideas of SPIN (Small Plot INtensive) farming, biodynamic farming, intercropping, companion planting, permaculture and ecological guilds, Fresh City is doing more than growing food – we’re building soil, open-minded farmers, and a learning space into which we invite the community. The cornerstone of the Fresh City Farm Plan is plant guilds. Plant guilds are a collection of different plants situated closely to each other to mimic biological systems that support each other. A classic one is the three sisters, which includes corn, beans and squash. The corn is the climax crop that provides structure for the beans to climb up. The beans add nitrogen to the soil (a very good thing!) and the squash shades the soil to reduce weeds. The large squash leaves can also be used as mulch to keep the soil moist thereby reducing the need for excess watering. While our guilds are building soil and supporting each other, the farmers will be using the SPIN technique to support their income. SPIN farming is intensive growing in small spaces. For instance, early in the spring we’ll plant snow peas that are hardy to the cold, and then we start our tomato guild. We’ll harvest as much as possible for the food boxes, cut down the peas (which will add nitrogen and other nutrients to the soil as the roots die down) and plant the tomatoes seedlings that were started earlier. Between the immature tomatoes we’ll plant Buttercrunch lettuce seedlings, which will grow into heads of lettuce. When the tomatoes grow taller those lettuces will be harvested. You’re probably getting a sense that the soil will always be covered! It’s true - there will always be something in the ground that will be harvested to make room for something else.  All in a day’s work for a Fresh City member farmer! All the best, Jessica Lemieux, Member Farmer Coordinator, Fresh City Farms