Spark Grants boost work of 11 projects in Guelph-Wellington as part of creating a circular regional food system
Guelph, Ont., September 8, 2022 – From building community gardens or helping people grow food at home to improving access to culturally-significant foods or foraging for natural food and medicines to support Indigenous families, Guelph-Wellington’s Our Food Future program is helping advance local projects to improve community access to nutritious, affordable food.
In May, community members, groups or organizations were invited to apply for a Spark Grant to help accelerate ready-to-implement ideas that support food access. More than 30 ideas were submitted, with 11 finalists receiving funding. Finalists were chosen by a selection panel comprised of City and County staff, and local representatives working to improve food access.
“Guelph and Wellington County communities care deeply about food, and the Spark Grant program is building on some of the amazing community-level activity aimed at addressing food access. Especially in this time of rising food prices and growing awareness of the social and environmental costs of our food choices, this program will help launch initiatives that can have a lasting, transformative impact on our communities,” said Jonathan McNeice, Manager, Our Food Future.
Given the calibre of the other ideas submitted, McNeice said organizers are looking for ways to support all the diverse and inspirational food projects proposed, along with other food access initiatives in the community moving forward.
The following projects have been awarded Spark Grants:
Access to fresh, nutritious culturally sensitive foods – $2,000: Create barrier-free access to fresh, culturally sensitive fruits, vegetables, spices and oils for newcomers.
Community Builders Lunch & Learn – $2,000: Community Builders provides experience and leadership skills for people who have lived in poverty. The Lunch & Learn program will include food skill education and provide community leadership skills.
Community Food Hub Expansion for Increased Food Access – $10,000: Guelph Food Bank is piloting a decentralize operation to reduce barriers due to transportation. Funding will bring on additional food access partners to continue to build the new model.
Collaborative Learning Community from Seed to Plate in the Town of Erin – $5,000: Town of Erin will help residents grow food by providing seeds, support and resources, cooking and preserving classes and a community pantry for overflow production to support community food access.
Growing Potential – $2,000: Big Brothers Big Sisters Centre Wellington will introduce a program for youth and mentors to grow food together to strengthen connections with food, food literacy and improve food access.
Kitchen Connection – $10,000: A Guelph school staff room will be transformed into a commercial kitchen to support the neighbourhood cooperative food system with a space for food skills learning, and food preservation.
Local Food Procurement for Non-Profit Programming – $5,500: Implement collective food purchasing to leverage buying power, support local producers while increasing community access to local foods, and strengthen collaboration between food access agencies.
Making the UofG Campus a Hub for Food Initiatives – $5,000: Increase students’ physical and economic access to nutritious foods by creating a food hub market on the University of Guelph campus encompassing several community food access programs.
Sageing Garden Cooperative – $2,000: Low-income older adults will receive a hydroponic garden to grow fresh vegetables year-round at home or a communal space where they can share the bounty with their peers.
Walking Together to Glean and Forage – $5,500: The Indigenous Food Sovereignty/Indigenous Food Security Collective and The SEED will launch a gleaning and foraging initiative to gather local seeds, fruits, grafts, roots, nuts and barks to be shared as foods and medicines amongst food insecure Indigenous families.
Wellington North Growing Healthy Rural Communities – $2,500: Create low barrier community garden in Mount Forest to engage community members from diverse groups to come together to grow food, build connection, and celebrate community.
About Our Food Future
Inspired by the planet’s natural cycles, a circular food economy reimagines and regenerates the systems that feed us, eliminating waste, sharing economic prosperity, and nourishing our communities. In Guelph-Wellington, we are working to build a regional circular food economy that will achieve a 50 per cent increase in access to affordable nutritious food, create 50 new circular economy businesses and collaborations, and a 50 per cent increase in circular economic benefit by unlocking the value of waste. COIL is an innovation hub for local social enterprises and businesses to adopt circular practices in the food and environment sectors by accessing education, mentoring, collaboration programs and funding to bring their circular ideas to life. Since January 2020, Our Food Future has been leading research, designing and implementing a host of programs to transform our regional food system. To learn more about our impact, view our Our Circular Future: Midterm Report.
Our Food Future demonstrates one of the ways the City of Guelph and County of Wellington are contributing to a sustainable, creative, and smart local economy that is connected to regional and global markets and supports shared prosperity for everyone.