March 10, 2013 – "The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance; the wise man grows it under his feet," says James Oppenheim, an American poet, novelist, editor and founder of 'The Seven Arts' literary magazine.
It was a random visit on a cold February morning that started with a complimentary bag of fresh sprouts, an offer of an apple instead of a coffee and a tour of Fresh City Farm's 3,000 square foot greenhouse located at Downsview Park in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), which I can only describe as a "healing garden on city ground."
"We're focussing a lot on greens this year and varieties of vegetables like Red and White Russian Kale, Siberian Kale, Dragon Carrots and Silverado Chard that you would not find in most grocery stores; in fact, we're growing 12 different varieties of kale," says Chen Goel, Operations Manager for Fresh City Farms.
"During the spring, summer and fall, many of the vegetables are grown in Toronto on our two-acre farm and during the colder months most of the salad greens are grown in our greenhouse and the remaining produce comes from Southern Ontario farms and abroad," Chen added.
All of their produce is grown utilizing organic methods including certified organic seeds, potting mixes, compost, fertilizers, and sustainable methods of cultivation. They control quality and consistency by following an integrated farming plan and ensuring that all Member Farmers are trained in cutting edge organic farming technologies, which are supported by shared resources on their home base.
Fresh City Boxes Delivered Right to Your Door!
Fresh City Farms deliver their 'Fresh City Box' right to your door or at group pick-up points. It's your choice! The content of the box differs from week to week and on average, 7 to 12 types of produce are in each box, which can be customized to suit your request. A regular box is usually enough for two or three people per week and a large box would suit three or four people.
Every box has a salad mix of young sprouts that is harvested between 24 and 48 hours before delivery and placed into biodegradable bags. "Our goal is to keep the box around 80% locally grown through the course of the year. Produce that is flown in from other countries is not included in our boxes," says Chen Goel.
Stanka and I lunched on a bag of sprouts and were more than pleasantly surprised by the balanced and refreshing taste of these amazing little greens that were sweet, earthy and delicate with a hint of a piquancy. Why would anybody want to put dressing on these sprouts? They are perfect just as they are – not to mention an excellent way to maintain your optimum health. I think this is nature's way of saying, "I've got your back."
Ran Goel practiced investment law in New York for several years before he became socially and ethically 'au courant' in regards to our food production system, which spawned him to co-found 'Fresh City Farms' with Phillip Collins in Toronto. Ran states that the current food production system is not working because it depletes our soil, pollutes our rivers and creates dead zones in our oceans by releasing gases that wreak havoc on the lives of today’s most vulnerable people in developing countries including our future unborn children.
"By cultivating delicious food right around your corner and partnering with other quality local artisans, we aim to provide you with a food experience that respects our bodies, our planet and our shared tomorrow."
Ran Goel, Co-Founder
Fresh City Farms - 2011
Ran Goel believes city farming can change the world by re-introducing people to real food. "Fresh City strives to play an active role in challenging the status quo. We want to re-connect people with the rhythm of farming by re-introducing it into their daily lives. For most of us, farming is an invisible activity. Many of us have lost all contact with the very activity that 10,000 years ago set our species off on our present course. By cultivating delicious food right around your corner and partnering with other quality local artisans, we aim to provide you with a food experience that respects our bodies, our planet and our shared tomorrow," says Ran Goel as cited from the Fresh City Farms website.
The core group of people that operate Fresh City Farms are not only humble but inspirational in that they hold multiple university degrees carrying with them immense knowledge and expertise in agriculture, landscape architecture, food security, and environmental and political science disciplines.
- If you would like to be a Member Farmer, you can sign up for an information session. The Member Farmer program not only provides you with the tools, resources and knowledge but also fosters and supports urban farmers to become economically sustainable.
- Internship programs are available. Farming experience is not a prerequisite but you must be familiar with the basics of sustainable, organic agriculture. They are always on the lookout for reliable, curious, passionate and energetic urbanites willing to get their hands dirty with the Fresh City Internship Program.
- They have workshops on various aspects of farming during the growing season that the public and Member Farmers can attend.
- If you would like to volunteer and learn about farming check out their 'Farm with Us' page.
- If you are interested in having your land farmed please click on this form.
Did You Know?
- 80% of organic produce in Ontario is imported from other countries.
- 80% of Fresh City Farms produce is from southern Ontario and in late June to October, it's 100%
- 10-20¢ of each dollar spent on produce at a typical supermarket ends up in the farmers' pockets
- 55-70¢ of each dollar spent on the Fresh City Box ends up in our farmers' pockets
- 0.5% of Canada's landmass is considered prime farmland.
- 52% of Canada's prime farmland is located in Ontario.
- 18% of Ontario's prime farmland is lost to urban sprawl.
- 500,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions can be avoided if Torontonians choose to purchase locally grown produce
- 45% less energy is typically used in organic farming
- 12% of global greenhouse gas emissions are related to farming
- 31% higher yield for organic corn compared to conventional methods during droughts
Stats are courtesy of Fresh City Farms!
What a Great Gift Idea!
The Fresh City Box is a wonderful gift idea for anyone - good friends, family members, the elderly or people with disabilities that are not as agile or mobile. How better to show how much you care – but more importantly that they deserve the best.
"I'm hoping that we continue to do what we are doing now but on a larger scale in Toronto. People often ask if we are interested in expanding across Canada but we truly believe in a de-centralized food system - if that happens, that's great, but it's definitely not the goal. I prefer to see a food system where there are more healthy, smaller players than the current system where there are three big grocery conglomerates that essentially control 80% of our retail dollars," say Ran Goel.
If you live in the GTA and want healthier food choices for your family, just click on Fresh City Farms, start your healing journey and never look back. You can thank me later.
Philosopher of Food – watch the video and become enlightened!