Loving Spoonful’s Community Harvest Food Forest
Target Completion Date: May 31, 2024
What is this project about?
Community Harvest Kingston (CHK), founded in 2008, originally a grassroots community initiative to bring fresh produce to Rideau Heights (a low-income) neighbourhood, became formalized as a program of Loving Spoonful in 2022.
Loving Spoonful connects people with good food and community across Kingston & Area. Working toward a healthier, more connected community, we provide programs and champion policies affecting food security, poverty, social inclusion, and community health. As a registered charity, we provide programs within four main areas related to local food systems: Local Food Access, Urban Agriculture, Community Kitchens, and the GROW Project (a school-based program). Community Harvest is one project within our Urban Agriculture program.
Community Harvest’s focus is on supporting and celebrating biodiversity and ecologically-friendly farm management practices, as well as social-based practices, offering direct relationships with eaters through our markets and hands-on work days in the gardens.
Community Harvest runs three collective urban agriculture sites throughout Kingston. Our volunteers, community members, and staff work together to plant, cultivate, and harvest a wonderful variety of delicious vegetables – in 2022, we grew more than 70 crops.
Our produce is distributed through three channels:
1) Community Harvest Markets: these “mini farmers’ markets” ensure dignified, low-cost access to local food in targeted locations to best serve food insecure community members. All items on the table are $0-5, and market attendees are welcome to pay what they can within that sliding scale. Everyone is welcome to attend our markets.
2) Loving Spoonful’s Local Food Stands: produce stands located within various social services agencies throughout Kingston: anyone who needs the produce is welcome to take it from the stand, at no cost and with no questions asked.
3) Loving Spoonful’s Community Kitchens programs: Community Kitchens participants take home a basket of veggies each week, and learn how to use different seasonal produce items in cooking workshops.
We also engage with eaters by designing days that community members can help in the gardens with hands-on work. The collective gardens we operate are sites of agro-ecological (working with ecological systems in our agricultural approaches) knowledge and skill-sharing, neighbourhood revitalization, and social engagement. We welcome visitors and groups to participate in work days and tours.
In 2023, we plan to add a fourth urban agriculture site under Community Harvest. We will design and plant a food forest, a project that, when the plants mature, would allow us to better serve our community by offering additional types of foods (on top of the vegetables we produce), adding fruits and nuts to our market stands and other distribution channels. The site that we have chosen is the Community Training Farm, which is a partnership between the City of Kingston and Loving Spoonful, where we deliver the New Farmer Training Program. The land is owned by the federal government (Corrections Canada), and Loving Spoonful has access to it through an agreement between Corrections Canada, the City of Kingston, and Loving Spoonful. There is approximately 5,000 square feet available for use by the Community Harvest program. We plan to put in several varieties of apple, pear, paw paw, grape, currant, elderberry, chestnut, and walnut, among others, as well as “windbreak” trees such as red cedar and poplar to minimize damage from prevailing winds. The understory will have annual nitrogen fixing legumes seeded to help build the soil. An ecologically diverse food forest would help us to build local food capacity for our community, to increase our ability to withstand external food supply chain stressors (drought, extreme heat, etc.), increase our skill and knowledge sharing efforts with community, and strengthen our relationship with Loving Spoonful’s other educational programs.
We are requesting support from the LEAF grant to support materials, supplies and salaries for the development of the Community Harvest Food Forest in 2023 and early 2024.