Urban farming takes root in Toronto backyards

In a city where farm-to-table restaurants are all the rage, it’s no wonder Torontonians are hopping aboard the urban farming trend and growing their own fruits and vegetables at home. Here are four local organizations that can help you get started. 

Not far from the Tree, Megan Anevich (bottom right in lead photo), program manager

How many trees are involved?
We have 1,700 trees in about 15 wards across the city. 

What fruits are people growing?
Mainly apples, pears, crabapples, apricots, grapes, sweet cherries and sour cherries. The rare ones are quince, plum, peach and pawpaw tree. 

How can people get involved?
They can volunteer as fruit pickers or homeowners with trees or deliver the fruit by bike to partner agencies. The fruit is split between the homeowner, volunteers and local food banks, shelters and community kitchens.  

 

Rent the Chicken, Kate Belbeck, GTA coordinator

When will people start receiving chickens?
Our deliveries start in early April and continue through May. We pick up our rentals before Thanksgiving. 

What does renting chickens entail?
Our standard rental package includes two chickens, which will produce about a dozen eggs per week. We supply the feed, a portable chicken coop, a book, tutorial and phone number to call with questions.

How are the eggs better?
Studies suggest farm fresh eggs have one-third less cholesterol, one-quarter less saturated fat and two-thirds more vitamin A than from factory farm hens.

 

Young Urban Farmers, Christopher Wong, general manager

Why did you start YUF?
One of the main motivations was being able to run a sustainable, environmentally friendly business and see the joy people get from growing their own food. 

What services do you provide?
YUF provides gardening setups (planting, seeding, preparation), gardening maintenance, coaching and workshops. 

What are you growing this year?
Each year we test out a few new varieties and this year, we’re excited to grow a large tomato variety called “garden treasure,” developed by the University of Florida, that has been bred primarily for its flavour.

 

Backyard Urban Farm Company, Marc Green, co-owner

What made you start BUFCO?
We wanted to find a way to give back to our community.  

What does BUFCO do?
We set up edible gardens and do vegetable landscaping and maintenance for clients. People can also purchase DIY kits and tend to their own gardens.

Where do you operate?
Mostly in Midtown, North York, the Annex and Forest Hill. 

What do you grow?
Almost everything you see in the grocery store, and we start planting in mid-April. We start by asking what the client likes to eat and go from there. 

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