Fresh City is a city farm. We incubate farmers that change lives by farming the city for a living. Heading into our third growing season we are confident that our model is scalable. We want to expand our member farmer program so that each neighborhood has a farm and a farmer. We are confident that we can have 100 farmers growing 1,000,000 pounds of produce in Toronto within the next two years. But we need your help.
Why City Farming?
Food lies beyond reason. Empires of fast food chains and supermarkets are built on that fact. We often eat not what is healthiest for us, our neighbors or our planet, but rather what is packaged attractively, seems cheap, tastes good or is convenient to find.
With most of us living in urban areas, city farming is uniquely positioned to change how people view food -- and in the process take on the processed food marketing machine. City farming helps re-connect us with how good food is grown. It changes hearts not by unfurling the latest findings in a nutritional science journal, but by the taste of a tomato, the touch of calloused hand and the smell of a basil plant. It reclaims land for food production and reduces our environmental impact. By bringing makers and eaters together, we help people -- and ourselves -- glimpse a different world.
Our approach is entrepreneurial. We are creating the infrastructure and foundation of making a living by farming the city. Why? So that meeting a city farmer at a dinner party will one day be commonplace. Fresh City member farmers each receive a starter plot at our home base and many also have other plots around the city in yards and other underused spaces. Member farmers get access to greenhouse space, cold storage, tools and a market through the Fresh City box program and farmers markets. Above all, member farmers are part of a supportive community that celebrates on the good days and consoles on the bad days. In our inaugural season, we had 6 member farmers, which grew to over a dozen in 2012 and now two dozen for 2013. We want to lay the groundwork for 100 member farmers by the 2015 season.
Farming organically in the city means less chemicals and less energy used. That means cleaner rivers, lakes, oceans, soil and air. It means less carbon emissions and more biodiversity. It also means thousands of people fed some of the freshest and tastiest produce this side of a backyard garden. Perhaps our most powerful impacts are the visceral food experiences we facilitate for our broader community. Be it by hosting school groups for tours, leading small business volunteer work days, mentoring at-risk youth interns, speaking at various events or just sharing our story with farmers market patrons, we are bringing people closer to good food.
Farming sustainably in the twenty-first century is not for the weak of heart or mind. A little leg up from you can go a long way to a beginner city farmer. This will help us create infrastructure for present and future member farmers to succeed, including:
(1) better cold storage (reduces waste and allows for continuous harvest)
(2) irrigation (especially important in this unpredictable climate)
(3) shared tools (particularly high-cost tools such as rototillers)
(4) farmers market van
(5) passively heated greenhouse space for seedlings
The more we are able to raise, the better platform we can create for member farmers to succeed. About half of the funds will go directly to member farmers to help in purchasing seed and soil amendments.
Risks and challenges
Farming on a small scale is very challenging in the current economic and regulatory environment. The odds are against a small-scale farmer trying to farm sustainably. Moreover, farming in the city poses several challenges above and beyond those associated with farming in more rural areas. Chief amongst these is land. With competing uses, tenure over land can be tenuous. The physical and knowledge infrastructure around farming also does not exist in an integrated way in the city environment. Our model is meant to mitigate these challenges and risks, but the degree to which we have been successful -- establishing city farming as a viable economic activity for more than a handful of people -- will take several more years to prove itself. Join us on this journey. We believe its a worthy undertaking.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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