Challenges to supporting urban agriculture through food system governance in Toronto

Authors: Colleen Hammelman*, University of North Carolina - Charlotte
Topics: Agricultural Geography, Urban Geography, Canada
Keywords: Toronto, Urban Agriculture, Food Policy Councils, Food Justice, Land
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 2:40 PM / 4:20 PM
Room: Grand Ballroom E, Sheraton, 5th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

The Toronto Food Policy Council (TFPC) has been recognized as a leader for food policy councils in North America since its founding more than 20 years ago. As a government-based council, it addresses food-related concerns across sectors of government in collaboration with non-profit and private stakeholders. Recently, in collaboration with Toronto Urban Growers, a network of advocates for UA across the city, it has produced several policy briefs and projects seeking to free up city land for growing food. However, the results of these efforts have been uneven. Those working within the urban agriculture (UA) movement continually face bureaucratic obstacles that make UA on public land inaccessible for groups without significant resources and power within in the city. This paper examines two specific examples of land contestation for UA in Toronto to demonstrate the ways in which a pillar of food system governance encountered obstacles in matching the priorities of city leadership and bureaucracy with those of low-income residents seeking to grow food as small enterprises or to supplement food budgets. This research contributes to literature on food systems, environmental justice, and governance, by attending to tensions that arise between different actors in food policy and urban agriculture movements in contestations over land.

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