Our 2015 Member Farmers
The Member Farmer Program at Fresh City was established to connect urban farmers to land, facilities, and a supportive learning community. Today the program supports over 20 farmers as they pursue self-sufficiency and farming business dreams. Our member farmers grow vegetables, herbs, and flowers for themselves and to sell.
Our goals include:
- To encourage growers to be self-driven, while providing encouragement and community
- To support new farming small businesses
- To promote self-sufficiency and urban homesteading in a collective environment
- To inspire learning by doing and sharing resources and ideas
Meet Our 2015 Member Farmers:
Aviva became a member farmer at Fresh City in 2014. She had worked on organic vegetable farms and taught kids’ gardening classes, and wanted to find a way to continue to farm while living in the city. A growing interest in local, sustainably-grown flowers, combined with a love of drawing and design work, led her to start Herb N’ Meadow, a fresh cut flower farm and floral design business.
Early into the 2014 season, Aviva met Jessica Gale of Sweet Gale Gardens, who was in her second year of growing flowers at Fresh City. The two women quickly became friends and began collaborating. This year, Aviva and Jess are growing all their flowers together, as well as jointly designing for weddings, The Toronto Flower Market, The Blossoms and Blooms Show, and the Trinity Bellwoods Farmers Market. They also operate a flower CSA from June to October - a 5-, 10-, or 15-week bouquet subscription, with pickup locations in the Annex, Riverdale, and Trinity Bellwoods.
Send Aviva an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to enquire about flowers for your wedding, event, small business, or restaurant; click here to sign up for the CSA; and follow her on Pinterest and Instagram @herbnmeadow.
Black Farmers and Food Growers Collective
Black Farmers and Food Growers Collective are a group that consists of farmers, growers, small food business owners, food insecure individuals and families.
We are working to create our unique food justice lens as it pertains to food oppression and accessibility in our community and other racilaized communities.
Our model is to focus on growing culturally appropriate foods, making those foods available through a unique marketing and distribution system that reflects our financial and economic realities in Toronto!
We aim to use clean food in impact health and well being of ourselves and community.
This will be our third growing season together. We look forward in growing and sharing with you our diverse food knowledge in spirit of community while producing a bounty of locally grown produce.
Carol Evans & Laura Jean Stephens
Echomuse Farms consists of LJ Stephens and Carol Evans, both former marketing professionals. After their first year as member farmers LJ and Carol decided to leave their jobs in marketing to pursue their new passion.
Echomuse Farms specializes in leafy greens and salad fixings. They create their own salad mixes including a Spinach and Swiss Chard Mix and Spicy Arugula Mix. They also grow all the regular market favourites and mix in some interesting and hard to find vegetables.
Echomuse Farms became a regular at Leslieville Farmers’ Market in the 2014 season through the New Farmers Program. They will continue to have a table at Leslieville market in 2015 and are expanding into Corporate sales and CSA’s. Visit their website at www.echo-muse.ca and find them on Facebook www.facebook.com/echomusetoronto
Carrie is entering her 4th growing season and is a senior member farmer at Fresh City where she spent the 2014 season developing her small farm business Garlic Girl, growing and selling delicious, healthful Ontario garlic, and other herbs and veggies using organic practices.
Garlic Girl (Local produce and pantry), now enters its second year with a website soon to launch and even more extremely delicious, sustainably and mindfully grown garlic in the ground.
Sales in the first year were direct to GTA locals, through the Fairmount Park Farmer’s Market, the Leslieville Farmer’s Market and to Murgatroid restaurant in Cabbagetown. GG fresh herbs also made a few appearances in Blackbird Baking Co.’s delectable loaves. Development is underway to bring you some delicious things for 2015!
This year the plan is…well…to keep growing, creating and connecting! Stock and Starter herb and veggie bundles, mini garlic braids, Garlic Girl Coarse Salt and Coarse Sugar will have their debut in the Garlic Girl pantry this season, as well as some usual suspects:
- Garlic Girl garlic (Music, German Mennonite and a couple of other varieties being tested out this year)
- Garlic scapes
- A selection of fresh herbs and whole-spices
- Hearty greens and vegetables (mustards, kales, spinach, onions, shallots, turnips, parsnips, cucumbers, cauliflower, peas, +)
Follow Garlic Girl for garlic tips and updates: @iamgarlicgirl - email: email@example.com. Feedback welcome. GarlicGirl.ca is under construction-check back late Winter/Spring 2015!
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, so I learned a lot back then. I got an engineering degree and moved away, currently working in the automotive industry. But I realized that growing food was what I needed to do! I planted a backyard vegetable garden and began taking farm courses; and two growing seasons ago I finally started "Lionheart Farm" at Fresh City in Downsview Park, which is close to where I live, and provided everything I needed to get started farming! In a few years I hope to have the knowledge and experience to expand significantly, and make farming my full-time career and livelihood.
Watch lionheartfarm.tumblr.com and @LionheartFarm on Twitter for farm updates, produce info, recipe ideas, pictures, etc
As a member farmer at Fresh City, we have been blessed with the opportunity to connect with the earth, grow foods naturally and organically, and provide delicious vegetables for market, catering, friends and family.
Growing up in an Italian family prepared me for farming at a young age - the values and experiences from around our kitchen table and home helped hone my food preparation and gardening skills. Years of experience working in kitchens and catering, combined with professional IT technical management and customer service have prepared me for running my own small farm.
Nothing makes me happier than sharing stories, helping fellow farmers, volunteering, and seeing the smiled on peoples faces when they are enjoying food that I grew. My mission is to provide peace of mind and happy full bellies!
Hillary Strack-Cheng grew up in Atlanta, GA and is southerner at heart! She studied fine arts and photography at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, IL. While living and working in Chicago she ran a community garden on the west side. She is new to Toronto and thrilled to be launching her small scale organic farm, Peaches to Pines! She loves photography, gardening, coffee, donuts, public radio, rock climbing, her husband and dogs, and traveling to new places!
Peaches to Pines is her small-scale organic farm located at Fresh City. Look for her at farmers markets around the city or e-mail her for bi-weekly farm basket subscription info. Visit her website at www.peacestopines.com and follow her on instagram @peachestopines
A colourful background consisting of self employment, manual labour and suit and tie corporate gigs, I've done it all! Volunteered with Fresh City for the past year in the warehouse (croissants kept me coming back) and completed the internship. Interested in learning how to farm outdoors and indoors to develop the skills for a project I'm currently working on.
Jessica is originally from Upstate New York. After finishing her Masters in Landscape Architecture, she moved to Toronto and became involved with Fresh City Farms. She currently acts as the coordinator for the Member Farmer Program while running her farm business, Sweet Gale Gardens.
Sweet Gale Gardens is a small, sustainable, fresh cut flower farm at Fresh City Farms. Jessica grows a wide range of annual flowers for market, wholesale, and special events, including weddings. She works in partnership with Aviva Coopersmith, of Herb N’ Meadow.
To learn more about her flowers being grown in the city, visit her website: http://sweetgalegardens.blogspot.ca/ or follow her on Instagram, @sweetgalegardens or Facebook.
Born and raised in Brampton, Kat didn't have much of a connection to growing food. After a few years of living, working and travelling overseas, she began reflecting on food systems and connecting more deeply with food, nature, and herself through agriculture, yoga and reiki. She spent a year volunteering with The Stop Community Food Centre, two growing seasons coordinating and growing with The Cutting Veg Organic Farm, followed by a season at Everdale Farm. Throughout 2014, she developed a local-food purchasing policy for Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children and hopes to continue advocating for better food in public institutions. The principles and practices of permaculture, coupled with the rhythms and cycles of the earth, inspired the birth of Lady Gaia, Kat's farm business. Lady Gaia is a small, sustainable, mixed vegetables, garlic and herb farm that supplies a network of friends and market-goers. This is Kat’s fifth growing season and second year as a member farmer at Fresh City Farms. To learn more about her produce, process and upcoming workshops, follow her on Facebook at Lady Gaia and Instagram at @ladygaia.ca.
This is my second year as a Member Farmer at Fresh City. I love to experiment with new food, whether traveling or here in Toronto where we are lucky to have a rich variety of ethnic foods. My interest is in growing food that you can’t find at a grocery store… rare varieties of vegetables and herbs and ethnic produce not commonly sourced in Toronto such as Padron peppers, cucamelons, black radishes and tulsi (Holy Basil). I will also be growing medicinal and fragrant herbs for herbal tea and cocktail infusions, and beautiful zinnias, just for joy. I enjoy introducing people to vegetables they haven't seen before...my favourite question that I can be asked at market is "What is that???". I would love to be a source of hard-to-find produce to more customers...ask me, I'll probably grow it for you! For me, growing is about the joy of nature. The world is a complicated place, but no one goes wrong eating more vegetables. You can find my produce at the Sorauren Farmers Market or in one of the city’s Spanish tapas restaurants.
Ljubica (Lyoo-bee-tsa) is from Guelph and is a first generation Serbian–Canadian. While growing up, as with most immigrant kids, farming was not considered a viable career option. Nevertheless she continued pursuing it in various forms over the years. This is her first season as a member farmer at Fresh City. On her 1,000 square foot plot, she will be growing assorted produce (including ethnic veggies, herbs and flowers) for her family, and to sell weekly to subscribers through her small-scale CSA. Outside of her agricultural pursuits, Ljubica works as an environmental scientist and project manager on remediation projects across North America. Contact her at lukic.lj(a)gmail.com if you’d like to purchase a share of her harvest, catch her at a local market (TBD), or for more information.
Mélisanne has been a Member Farmer at Fresh City since 2012. She created Canopy Educational Gardens, a social enterprise that provides education and guidance to people interested in understanding the importance of the environment and fresh food in healthy lives and communities. This adventure started during her studies while completing her Masters degree in Environmental Studies at York University. She specialized in environmental education and urban gardening. She worked at designing a learning program, and she is now putting her research into action through U FEED, a collaborative learning program for newcomers to urban farming. Gardening and farming are for Mélisanne a social endeavour. She believes in creative, community-driven solutions for improving the environment and living green. Visit her website here.
Stephanie is an urban beekeeper in Toronto who has become profoundly inspired by the bees. Working with them over the years has motivated her to make more conscious decisions about food and where it comes from, hoping to embolden others to do the same.
2015 is her 5th growing season, and her second season at Fresh City Farms with 1000 square feet of land. In addition to growing her own food, Stephanie will also be focusing on growing medicinal herbs and flowers. You can follow Stephanie, her garden and her bees on Instagram @bumbleandbloom