Written by Rachael Chong
I met Kara Harrison when she was the coordinator of the Highland-Stirling Community Market and she was connecting with us at the Hacienda Sarria Market Garden to purchase produce to sell on Wednesdays. Though she’s now working in another role in community development for the City of Kitchener, she agreed to sit down with me to chat about the history of the Highland-Stirling market, and what it was like to be involved in the project.
In 2008, this market began out of a need for greater access to “healthy local foods” in the Highland-Stirling neighbourhood. It was one of several neighbourhoods in the Region of Waterloo to receive funding and support from Waterloo Region Public Health to purchase food from local farmers, hire project coordinators, and purchase some of the necessary infrastructure to begin running a multi-week summer market. In the case of Highland-Stirling, it was one the few that continued on to become a yearly undertaking. As the years went on, the Region stepped back their support and the neighbourhood association — made up of community volunteers and only a couple part-time staff — has facilitated the project. …
By Larrissa Jerome
On January 17th, the Food System Roundtable held their second panel discussion in partnership with Open Food Network Canada at the Kitchener Public Library to facilitate a community discussion about the tensions of urban development and creating a more sustainable food system in Waterloo Region.
The rapid growth of our region can be seen all around us through suburban expansion, rising condo buildings, new transit lines, and a growing number of community members attracted to opportunities in our unique tech and innovation industries. Urban development has the ability to strengthen our local economy by offering better-established infrastructure, resources and revenue generation for businesses and community members. …
Written by Rachael Chong
Part 1 of a 3-part series about neighbourhood markets in Waterloo Region
St. Jacobs Market. Kitchener Market. Elmira Farmer’s Market. Cambridge Farmer’s Market. Christkindl Mkt. Uptown Waterloo Night Market. All the church bazaars and sales. Almost every festival in our region — from Kitchener’s Multicultural Festival to the Wellesley Apple Butter & Cheese Fesitval to the New Hamburg Mennonite Relief Sale — has an open air street market.
We have so many of them — What is it about markets that Waterloo Region loves so much? Walking around with heavy items in stifling crowds, scrounging for limited seating to finally tuck into rapidly cooling fried food, realizing you can’t buy anything because you don’t have cash — why? …
Written by Amy Bumbacco, Contributing Blog Editor
Jenn Pfenning is a champion of local, organic food production and the rights of migrant workers. You might know her from Pfenning’s Organic Vegetables where she is the Director of Human Resources and Local Purchasing, or from her extensive background of volunteer work with the National Farmers Union, Organic Council of Ontario, and FoodShare Toronto. She was also just voted into the well-deserved and well-suited position of Ward 4 Township Councillor in Wilmot.
I wanted to share a bit about Jenn including her passion for her community, her work with local food systems, and her advice for seeking justice for migrant workers. …
Written by Alexandros Glaros
Published on November 12th 2018
You see a shadow cross a field. It moves back and forth, up and down, generating a buzz with the intensity of a million mosquitoes. It’s a drone. It snaps pictures, each with a resolution down to a single blade of grass. Meanwhile, the farmer sits at her table eating breakfast. She receives updates on her phone and computer, with information on soil nitrogen concentration, early-warning signs of crop disease and soil moisture content. …
Written by Rachael Chong
Municipal Election Day is coming up on October 22, 2018! In Waterloo Region, we will be voting for regional councillors, regional chair, school board trustees, municipal councillors, and mayors of Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge, Woolwich, Wellesley, North Dumfries and Wilmot.
Politics at the regional and municipal scale seem to me to be more accessible than at the provincial or federal level, with more possibility to influence decisions and the outcomes are felt more immediately in daily life. Importantly, elections can present opportunities to bring issues facing our citizens into public discourse.
Consider the last municipal elections in 2014. Leading up to voting day, Waterloo Region Food System Roundtable ran a campaign called Food Spaces, Vibrant Places. They advocated for supportive zoning by-laws for food spaces such as community markets and temporary farm markets. It was a successful campaign — many citizens showed their support by signing a petition, and many candidates declared their agreement to the terms. I’m not sure how these pre-election intentions were acted upon and discussed in the years that followed by the elected officials, but today in 2018, we do see positive change. Temporary farm markets, in particular, have been recognized as a tool for building community identity, creating access to healthy food, creating a space where neighbours naturally bump into each other and make connections. As part of the Love My Hood community engagement process undertaken by the City of Kitchener, many residents expressed their interest in temporary markets. Echoing this Food Spaces, Vibrant Spaces campaign report, residents also expressed that it was hard to start up such markets. In response, the city of Kitchener has offered a “pop-up” farmers market kit to community groups this year, and published a glossy website that makes it easy to find out which forms to fill out to obtain the required licenses. …
Written by Beth Timmers
Published on October 4th 2018
Visit the Indigenous Student Centre at St. Paul’s University College at noon any given Thursday and you’ll be welcomed with a bowl of homemade soup and fry bread. You may sit next to a colleague you haven’t seen in months, your favourite Indigenous author, or your local political official. But be on time; arrive late, and you may not get a seat.
Under the leadership of Cheryl Maksymyk, the Indigenous Student Centre Coordinator, Soup and Bannock Lunch serves up to a hundred students, staff, faculty and community members each week. …
Written by Amy Bumbacco
Originally published in June 2018
This winter, my fiancé and I moved into a new bungalow in Kitchener. It was a happy surprise to see the melting snow uncover an array of backyard perennial flower gardens. We even discovered a few raspberry bushes! We would love to grow more food but since we are renting it is difficult to invest in or alter the landscape. But not to worry, we’ve started growing vegetables in containers! …
Written by Steffanie Scott
Originally published on October 31st 2012
So-called ‘waste’ is the oft-forgotten other end of the food chain. But it’s a critically important resource, if cycled back into production, to provide composted organic matter for maintaining soil fertility. And reducing or reusing food packaging is also a key element of a more sustainable food system.
Four school buses filled with area residents participated in tours of the Region’s landfill throughout the morning of October 20 — there were long wait lists for these spots, which filled up weeks in advance. On the tour, we learned that the landfill accumulates 900 tons of garbage daily — 42% of which is residential (the rest is commercial/industrial). …
Written by Theresa Schumilas
Originally published on October 29th 2012
My experience in talking to eaters is that most people are naive about farm scale. When we talk about supplying local vegetables (for example) most of us conjure up images of families out in a field pulling carrots and putting them into bins and washing them in a sink. Or we think of someone hoeing a row of potatoes or walking down a row and planting seed into tilled soil. There are birds singing, butterflies fluttering, bees buzzing and in the distance a rooster crows and a cow moos….
In short — we imagine things at a small scale. Of course we do. It is the scale we live at and the scale we most easily relate to. It is also the romantic scale — the scale of people communing with nature. No noisy equipment. No industrial washing and packing lines. No giant walk in cold storage. No tractor trailers backing up to loading docks……. Indeed, most of us don’t really understand the scale of operations through which our “local” food comes to us. …