Guelph, Ont., February 12, 2021–Ten local not-for-profit and social enterprise projects shared $106,000 in funding from the Smart Cities Our Food Future project, in collaboration with 10C, to develop sustainable initiatives that will help more people in Guelph-Wellington access healthy food.

In September 2020, the Smart Cities office launched the Guelph-Wellington Urban Agriculture Challenge. This program, led by Harve$t Impact—a social financing program of 10C and a core pillar of Our Food Future—invited proposals for projects that will support circular economic recovery and accelerate food production, getting more food to the table with less environmental impact.

“Urban Agriculture is the practice of cultivating, processing and distributing food in our built environment where we live, work and play”, says Julia Grady, Executive Director at 10C. “It contributes to food security and local economies, and increases social connection and resiliency.

We were very impressed with the submissions we received. To say there were no bad ideas is an understatement, and we are inspired by the innovation and passion for circularity that shone through in every proposal.”

Twenty-eight projects were submitted, with 18 short-listed for further review and discussion by a selection committee.

The 10 funded projects were announced by senior municipal officials during a virtual awards ceremony on February 12, 2021.

The funded projects, in four award categories, are:

Transformative Urban Agriculture Award (1) - $70,000

  • Everdale Environmental Learning Centre, Kindle Communities, and the Guelph Community Health Centre to help build Shelldale Farm Park, a community garden project to support low-income community members to grow fresh crops through a four-season commercial greenhouse, outdoor raised beds and micro-fields, a food forest, and changes to the existing community kitchen.

Scaling Out Community Agriculture Award (1) - $20,000

  • Ignatius Farm, Guelph, to expand its small plot fruit orchard and lead community education programs that encourage local fruit farming

Shovel and Fork Awards (6) - $2,000 per award

Funding for an additional two projects which have the potential to address issues of inequity and have a significant impact for people in Guelph-Wellington who identify as Black, Indigenous or people of color was secured during the evaluation process.

Leveling the Ground Awards (2) - $2,000 per award

  • Freedom Dreams Cooperative Education Program to see communities of colour launch food and farm cooperatives that increase local food access within these communities while increasing representation and inclusivity within Canada's co-op sector 
  • Putting Down Roots: Newcomer Youth Community Garden to provide opportunities for food growing, education and leadership for youth and newcomers to Canada

Projects will begin this year. A condition of the Shovel and Fork awards is for the projects to be up and running for the 2021 growing season; the others will be active in 2022.

Guelph-Wellington Urban Agriculture Challenge is a project of Grow Back Better, Our Food Future’s community recovery plan in response to COVID-19.


“The pandemic has strengthened our resolve to work together to put Guelph and Wellington on the map as Canada’s top place where food problems can be solved.”
Cam Guthrie, Mayor of Guelph

“Guelph and Wellington County have a great history of serving community. We also have a wealth of knowledge about food. It’s a powerful combination when it comes to addressing food security.”
Kelly Linton, Warden, County of Wellington

“We are pleased to support projects that have the potential to make a significant impact for people in our communities who identify as Black, Indigenous or people of colour. Working closely with these community members will help us better understand inequity our food system.”
Scott Stewart, Chief Administrative Officer, City of Guelph

“The high participation in the Urban Agriculture Challenge has been a fantastic reminder that we are leading a movement together to transform our community’s access to nutritious food. We have much to do, and today has been a clear reminder that we are more than up to the task.”
Barbara Swartzentruber, Executive Director, Smart Cities Office

“These projects demonstrate a renewed imperative to join together with the confidence we can address very real, recurring problems in our society.”
Justine Dainard, Smart Cities Project Manager, County of Wellington

About Our Food Future

Inspired by the planet’s natural cycles, a circular food economy reimagines and regenerates the systems that feed us, eliminating waste, sharing economic prosperity, and nourishing our communities. In Guelph-Wellington, we are working to build Canada’s first tech-enabled circular food economy that will achieve a 50% increase in access to affordable nutritious food, 50 new circular economy businesses and collaborations, and a 50% increase in circular economic benefit by unlocking the value of waste.

Our Food Future one of the ways the City of Guelph and County of Wellington are contributing to a sustainable, creative and smart local economy that is connected to regional and global markets and supports shared prosperity for everyone.


Media contacts

Ashlee Cooper, Project Coordinator, Smart Cities
Smart Cities Office, Office of the Chief Administrative Officer
City of Guelph
519-822-1260 extension 3544

Julia Grady, Co-Founder/Executive Director