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Last Mile Distribution and Delivery Project

Project overview

In addition to city-wide or county-wide projects, we’re also testing circular principles at the local level.

Guelph is made up of several sub-ecosystems. When we look at these as a mosaic, they can be studied effectively as patches that differ in characteristics, boundaries, and compositions within an overall system. We will be using the Junction neighbourhood (Google map) as our first patch. Located at the heart of the city, the Junction neighbourhood is filled with mature foliage, distinctive homes and front porches where neighbours intentionally build community. Food has been a core feature in building this grassroots neighbourhood.

Leveraging an existing community shared agriculture (CSA) program, we’re in the process of creating a circular baking business, addressing packaging waste by offering zero-waste groceries and, ultimately, offering carbon-free delivery. We are also supporting localized food production and leveraging hidden neighbourhood assets through the integration of Seed Voyage.

Approach

Many residents in this neighbourhood already belong to Zócalo Organics’ CSA program, receiving weekly boxes of vegetables throughout the growing season from the Wellington County farm.

Building on this community love of fresh vegetables, we are integrating a pilot study using the Seed Voyage Platform. This online platform effortlessly connects home food growers with consumers who appreciate the freshness of ultra-local fruits and veggies. The platform allows home gardeners to sell (or donate) the foods they are growing directly to their neighbours. When it’s harvest season, a grower will send out a notification to anyone signed up (“the eater”) who has a matching preference. Once the eater is notified, they can choose to purchase a basket at the click of a button and then pick it at the growers’ house. Seed Voyage requires no physical contact and helps eliminate food waste.

Our circular baking business starts with locally grown hops that are sold to Fixed Gear—a craft brewery located in the Junction—to use in their brewing process. A local baker will then use leftover ;malted barley from the brewery to produce bread, ensuring those spent grains don’t go to waste.

As the project progresses, the goal is to integrate a low-waste grocery service. We also plan to offer delivery of groceries, bread and CSA vegetables via electric bikes, which will be charged at Fixed Gear Brewing using off-grid renewable energy technology supplied by Anvil Crawler. The project managers also hope to establish a community kitchen where Junction residents can come together around food, pick up prepared meals, bake breads in the wood-fired oven and learn more about turning local produce into healthy meals.

Food Delivery Pilot image

Enabling distribution and delivery models for online food delivery

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the demand for food delivery and online grocery orders has skyrocketed. In 2020/21, we’re therefore pivoting our Last Mile project to address immediate community needs through novel distribution models. Specifically, we’re supporting the transitioning of The Cornerstone—a local restaurant that was forced to close as a result of the pandemic—into a market of fresh, local, affordable food. Now named Corner Market Guelph, it acts as a delivery point for healthy groceries and locally prepared foods. The restaurant has hired back some of its employees to pack and prepare premade meals and then deliver them using zero-emission electric bicycles.

Tools, templates and technology used

Curbside waste analysis: Because the City of Guelph plans to track curbside organic waste, we’ll be able to measure the impact of this neighbourhood-scale project.

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