September 23, 2020

By IAN MCBRIDE

IM-FoodSystemsThe general population has an appetite for unhealthy foods, mainly because most people don’t have walkable access to healthy food options. However, initiatives by groups in Waterloo Region hope to reverse that trend.
THEMUSEUM presented its Sustainable Food Systems Dialogues, which took place for eight weeks, beginning Jan. 18 and running until the final instalment on March 8.

The finale featured presentations by Adam Kramer and Krista Long. Kramer helps run the Working Centre’s Urban Agriculture Projects, and Long is involved with the Waterloo Region Food System Roundtable.

Kramer profiled the Urban Agriculture Projects, and focused mainly on the Hacienda Sarria Market Garden, which is a volunteer-driven initiative that strives to demonstrate, promote and share knowledge about sustainable urban food production. The main markets for their garden produce are nearby restaurants and stores looking for fresh local food, as well as a small community-supported agriculture share program and a market stand at the Hacienda Sarria located at 1254 Union St., in Kitchener.

Long’s presentation was regarding the Waterloo Region Food System Roundtable and their Food Spaces, Vibrant Places campaign. The campaign was launched in June to support community gardens and temporary farmers’ markets in our cities. Their goal was to get food spaces on the municipal election agenda to ensure that Kitchener, Cambridge, and Waterloo include supportive policies for community gardens and temporary farmers’ markets in their updated zoning bylaws, which are in progress. They asked community members to sign a petition in support of more Food Spaces, Vibrant Places, and over 570 people did. Their team of volunteers met with 26 candidates and provided outreach at 18 community events and local markets. Over half of the candidates elected publicly declared support for their campaign.

According to Long, there are several roadblocks preventing people from accessing healthy foods.

“We’re specifically looking at policy, but on the other end there’s income, geographic access and the zoning bylaws.”

In terms of the Urban Agriculture Projects, they are hoping for long-term sustainability.

“We’re not there financially yet, but there’s a lot of ways in which we’re going to keep growing,” Kramer said. “We’re definitely headed towards financial sustainability. We’re attempting to be stewards of the land.”

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