Xuan-Yen, here. We had a whirlwind of a weekend, jam packed with presenting, workshops, networking and enjoying the company of fellow food involved people November 26th to the 28th in Montreal at the Biennial Food Secure Canada Assembly.
Both Sunday and I spoke on a panel discussing schools as a space for nutrition, in both official languages Saturday morning. It was my first time presenting in French at a conference. We shared how we are able to maintain our garden-based programming all year round by implementing numerous strategies and engaging with the community.
We had an opportunity to see what other organizations were doing, especially the Francophone organizations. Jeunes Pousses, was particularly interesting as they have developed a couple school food garden manuals in French! Super duper helpful when there aren’t that many French resources available to us.
A few other interesting highlights:
I went to the youth workshop, Youth Food Movement: Leaders of Tomorrow Leaders of Today, which was great. Tracy, chair and co-founder of the Toronto Youth Food Policy Council, shared how the formation of the TYFPC in 2009 has spurned other youth food policy councils to form in the U.S. and in other countries. I learned about the various food initiatives that are happening at the University of Concordia campus through the Concordia Food Systems Project. And lastly was inspired by the growth of Santropol Roulant as an organization and how they plan to expand their project. I especially liked to hear about their innovative ‘meals-on-wheels’ program, in which students walk or bike the homemade food they make in their community kitchen over to the recipients. No gas guzzling!
What was also insightful was the informative go around of all the people who were at the workshop. We shared what youth related projects we were involved with, and the challenges we faced. I managed to go on a little rampage about how funding instability affected programming development and projects, how gardens are not seen as a serious activity worth actively pursuing to address food issues, how we need a holistic understanding and approach that considers socio-economic realities associated with gardening/Food Security movements and initiatives to avoid co-optation….
The other thought that resonated with me, is the need for the food movement to really democratize itself in order to be relevant…and how it continues to be a challenge despite attempts to get different voices and people’s input in policy-making initiatives. Food for thought!
p.s. We did manage to drop by St. Viateur for some bagel hoarding. Deeee-licious straight out of the wood oven.