Black Creek Community Farm

Healing Our Community.

Digging In

Digging In: Facilitating Dialogue and Action
Key Themes and Terms
  • urban agriculture
  • food justice
  • food insecurity
  • community-shared agriculture (CSA)
  • certified organic
  • systemic barriers
  • access to food
  • immigrant communities
  • culturally appropriate food
  • community farm
  • community food programming
  • watershed
  • community gardens
  • pollinator gardens
  • food forest
  • farm park
  • accessible public space
  • community governance and ownership
  • funding
  • not-for-profit challenges
Catalyzing Connections

  • Description: What stories are told? How did you feel reading them?
  • Personal Connection: Does this story connect to your personal experience or stories in your family?
  • Common Themes: What social issues/themes are raised in these stories? Is there a common issue shared across contexts?
  • Social Analysis: What are the historical and social processes that created this situation?
  • Planning for Action: What can be done? What can I/we do?

  • What programming happens at the farm and how does this meet the needs of the community?
  • What are some of the systemic issues faced by the Jane Finch neighbourhood?
  • What challenges has the farm faced and how have they adapted?
  • The subtitle of the video is “Healing a Community”. In what ways can a farm like this be healing for a community?
  • How is the farm a model and inspiration for urban agriculture in Toronto and globally?
  • What does Leticia hope for the future of the farm?

Hands-On Activities

Research or visit an urban agriculture initiative in the community where you live or nearby. What kinds of urban agriculture initiatives exist? What kind of programming happens at these gardens or farms. If possible participate in an event or workshop at one of these projects.

Read the photo essay “Food Justice and Urban Agriculture in Action” to learn more about food justice issues in the Jane-Finch community. The Digging In Facilitator’s Guide has additional questions you may want to explore related to food justice.

Individual and Collective Action

How does the Black Creek Food Justice Network organize around food justice issues in the community and beyond?

What role can an organization like Black Creek Community Farm play to galvanize collective action in a community?

How could urban agriculture address issues of food security, food sovereignty and food justice in cities? in your local context?

The U.S. and Canadian food movements have been criticized for structural racism. What are the ways that it is manifested? How are these issues being addressed by food movement leaders and organizations?

How can public space like the farm contribute to community food security and well-being?

Continuing the Conversation

Continuing the Conversation
Karen Washington

Karen Washington is a farmer and activist. She is Co-Owner/Farmer at Rise & Root Farm in Chester New York. As an activist and food advocate, in 2010, she co-founded Black Urban Growers (BUGS) an organization supporting growers in both urban and rural settings.

How great and refreshing it is to see black folk expressing their desire to farm. Black Creek Community Farm should be an inspiration for those looking to farm in urban spaces. What is so unique about this farm is that they realized a need for people in marginalized communities to have access to fresh produce and decided to do something about it.  It is so easy to complain about a food system that has neglected the people it is supposed to serve, after all isn’t food a human right? Yet millions of people go hungry each day. We have an extractive, exploitative food system in which food has become a commodity based on profits rather than on people. A system that produces enough food and waste enough food yet people in need have little to no access to it.

But Black Creek Community Farm offers an alternative, to grow food in community. Food that is grown by the community and for the community. Putting power and ownership back into the hands of its people.  Their work is far reaching as folks from different parts on the world want to emulate not what they are growing but how they are growing.

Let us not forget the continual struggles we have politically as we fight to have access to land, resources, healthy food and clean water. Black Creek Community Farm is one of many farms in urban areas that relies on funding to survive. It is time for cities to put it or shut up. You can’t claim you support food justice or have a food policy council without funds for urban agriculture.

Black Creek Community Farm, keep doing what you are doing. You are growing food, educating the youth and creating a community food system that is just and equitable.

As black folks we have come a long way understanding our history and our place in agriculture. Countries and empires have been built on the back of enslaved and indigenous people. It’s time for us all to go back to the land, put our hands and feet in the soil and celebrate who we are as a people. Because as long as we are able to grow our own food, we will never be hungry again.

Digging Deeper

Digging Deeper: Resources for Further Research and Action
Videos

Zakisha Brown
DEY KNOW

Books and Articles
  • Alkon & J. Agyeman (Eds.). Cultivating Food Justice: Race, Class, and Sustainability. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2011. See Eric Holt-Gimenez. “Food, Security, Food Justice or Food Sovereignty?: Crises, Food Movements and Regime Change.”, 309-330.
  • Palassio, Christina and Alana Wilcox (eds). The Edible City: Toronto’s Food from Farm to Fork. Toronto: Coach House Books, 2009
    Less, Clara and Cecilia Rocha. “Nourishing Belonging: Food in the Lives of New Immigrantsin Toronto.” 148-153.
    Ramsaroop, Chris and Katie Wolk. “Can We Achieve Racial Equality in the Food Security Movement.” 252-263.
  • Penniman, Leah. Farming While Black: Soul Fire’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land. Chelsea Green Publishing Company, 2018.
  • Fighting for Food Justice in the Black Creek Community: Report, Analyses and Steps Forward. http://tfpc.to/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/FullReport_small.pdf

In the northwest corner of Toronto, hidden from view by a newly established food forest, is Black Creek Community Farm (BCCF). The farm, Toronto’s largest urban farm, is located in the Jane-Finch or Black Creek neighbourhood. The neighbourhood is one of Toronto’s most diverse communities and widely recognized as the most disadvantaged.

This community-produced video provides an overview of the farm and its activities, narrated by Leticia Deawuo. Before becoming the Director at Black Creek Community Farm, Leticia worked in the Jane-Finch neighborhood as a community organizer. As Director of the farm, Leticia works to respond to some of the structural injustices that exist in Canada, including food justice, food access, food and policing, food and community health.

Black Creek Community Farm is situated on a unique eight-acre property that includes pristine farmland, a heritage farmhouse and barn, and a surrounding forest that extends down into the Black Creek ravine. All of this is located within easy walking distance of eight schools and thousands of local residents in one of the most densely populated neighbourhoods in Canada’s largest city.

Black Creek Community Farm is a social enterprise and leader in Toronto’s dynamic urban agriculture and community food sector. A variety of programs serve and enrich the community through:

  • growing a thriving farm and healthy food;
  • providing hands-on training and learning experiences;
  • inspiring the next generation by providing leadership in food justice; and
  • supporting diverse and social ecosystems.

The farm’s vision is to be an Urban Agriculture centre that engages diverse communities through sustainable food. This vision connects to a thriving urban agriculture movement in Toronto that is linked through organizations such as the Toronto Food Policy Council and Toronto Urban Growers.

A core focus of Black Creek Community Farm is to increase access to healthy food in the community through programming and food distribution projects. Fresh, local and organic produce is available from June to November at accessible rates. Community programming focuses on food security, food literacy, and food skills. Thousands of children, youth, families and seniors participate each year.

In this video, Leticia challenges us to think more broadly about farms and food justice, and the power of having diverse low-income communities controlling their own food production as a way to feed themselves, create safe spaces, and build community. The urban agriculture project addresses systemic barriers (such as racism and poverty) to access to healthy, culturally-appropriate food, and the importance of accessible public spaces guided by community involvement and governance.