Report Back: 2nd PFN and Maytree Building Blocks workshop at Greenest City

Parkdale Food Network organized its 2nd workshop on civic engagement and food security as part of Maytree Foundation’s Building Blocks. This is a report-back by Terence Williams, Community Leader of Maytree civic engagement training.

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On Monday afternoon on August 21 Parkdale Food Network in partnership with Maytree Foundation and Citizenship and Immigration Canada held its second civic engagement training workshop with Greenest City in the Youth Garden in Parkdale. As the Greenest City was a partner for this workshop, our specific focus was on urban agriculture.

PARC’s Executive Director, Victor Willis, gave an introduction to those participants that came together sitting on benches and tree stumps. He spoke about the food initiatives that the Parkdale Food Network has been leading in the Parkdale community and how these initiatives could assist with the access, availability and affordability of healthy food for all people living in the Parkdale neighbourhood.  He then handed the group over to Terence Williams.

Terence then proceeded to facilitate the civic engagement training for the community members, giving a good overview of the different levels of government in Canada, and explaining their makeup and how all three levels of government function, including their areas of responsibility.

After a brief break for refreshments, Joel Fridman, a graduate student at the University of Toronto, then did an excellent and well received presentation on food security. The group participants then took part in a discussion of what had been presented around issues of food security and what could be done to engage and work with the government.  We had the discussion in an intimate way with the participants sitting in a circle in a lovely open community garden setting. One participant reiterated a statement made by Terence during the session: “We need to speak as One Voice”.

A couple of other topics came up in the training. Victor Willis asked if there was a government ministry of food (there is a Ministry of Agriculture and Food and Rural Affairs at the provincial level – Ontario and a Ministry of Agriculture and Agri-Food at the federal level – Canada). The issue of GMOs (genetically modified food) was brought to the conversation as well as using land and crops for bio-fuel.  Most of all there was discussion on the possibilities of urban agriculture in the city, where what, and how it could proceed, done, and maintained and the benefits accruing from it for its inhabitants and the environment.

PARC would like to thank Greenest City for hosting the Maytree Civic Engagement Training in its Youth Garden within the Community Garden in Parkdale. What better way to present and hold a session on food security and civic governance than in a garden vibrant and full of leafy vegetation, just like the Agora (gathering place/place of assembly) in the Ancient Greek City States. Food for thought, the spirit, and the body, all in a garden.

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 This article is contributed by Terence Williams

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