Thanks to great collaboration between the Stop Community Food Centre,Vineland Research and Innovation Centre, Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association and the Foundation, Greenbelt-grown world crops have increasingly gained recognition around the region.
For those of you unfamiliar with the World Crops project, here’s a little background on why these delicious vegetables are so important to Ontario…
Many foods from around the world can be grown here in Ontario. By helping local farmers tap into the expanding niche market of crops favoured by GTA immigrants, we can help make farming in the Greenbelt and Ontario more viable. Considering the fact that half of Torontonians were born outside of Canada, it comes as no surprise that the GTA has a 61 million dollar market for ethno-cultural vegetables among Chinese, South Asian, and Afro-Caribbean communities. An analysis of the expenditure on ethnic vegetables by the three largest ethnic groups in the GTA reported the demand per month at $21 million, $7 million, and $33 million for Chinese, Afro-Caribbeans, and South-Asians respectively. Ethno-cultural communities as well as other lovers of world crops will find comfort in learning about the great potential for growing these crops close to home.
To help increase the profile of world crops several incredible events were held over the past few months. Here’s just a taste of what has gone on…
In August, Access Alliance on the Danforth hosted a Garden Party celebrating the harvest of their green roof’s inaugural year. The garden boasted potential for culinary delights as diverse as the community it serves. Okra, amaranth (a.k.a. callaloo), hot peppers, tomatillos, yard-long beans, and Asian eggplants offered up locally grown flavours of the world. The AccessPoint Green Roof received many of these plants thanks to their connection to the World Crops Project.
August also saw the “Twilight Growers’ Sessions” which were held by Vineland Research and Innovation Center for potential farmers of world crops. Vineland has been growing and observing the results of an array of world crops over the past two years and has a lot of knowledge to impart to those curious about the growing practices of these plants.
In September things started to heat up even more exciting events. Global News featured The Stop’s Global Roots Garden and the world crops being grown there. GrowTO held a session on World Crops and how they could be marketed for a multicultural city, as part of their Urban Agriculture Speaker Series. Sustain Ontario’s City to Country Mobile Conference had a World Crops themed tour led by Emily Van Halem and Peter Mitchel, making stops at a commercial farm in Copetown piloting world crops, a distribution hub in Brampton, and to Ecosource’s Punjabi Seniors Garden where world crops are grown on a small-scale. Greenbelt-grown world crops were also highlighted in cooking workshop held by Arvinda and Preena Chauhan of Arvinda’s Healthy Gourmet Indian Cooking.
In October Arvinda’s came through a second and a third time, featuring world crops in the food at the “East Meets West: Bringing Ontario Craft Beer, Indian Cuisine and World Crops Together” event and at the “Eat to the Beat” event. Not to mention The World Crops Project and the Greenbelt were featured on CBC’s Here & Now.
A special thanks to Emily Van Halem, Peter Mitchell and Rhonda Teitel-Payne who have worked incredibly hard to make the world crops project such a great success.
- Shelley Petrie, Program Director