The Scoop: Fall 2020

Alison Springate
Alison Springate Guelph Smart City Office • 7 January 2021

Welcome to The Scoop, Our Food Future’s quarterly newsletter.

Our first edition in July was an opportunity for us to review a number of activities and projects that were underway through Grow Back Better: Our Food Future’s 10-point recovery plan in response to COVID-19, and part of the City of Guelph’s and the County of Wellington’s overall COVID-19 economic, social and green recovery efforts. In this edition, we’re going to look at our continued progress on these programs and highlight how you can get involved with Our Food Future.

A voice in a global conversation

As we celebrate our fall harvest, we have been part of important discussions about food waste and recovery, not only in Guelph-Wellington, but globally. World Food Day was on October 16 and is one of the highest profile international days observed by the United Nations. We are honoured that Our Food Future was included by our collaborators at the University of Guelph during the 24-Hour Global Relay Conversation stop in Canada (session starts at 57:42). We were also invited to share our experiences in a side event of the World Circular Economy Forum Online in September alongside representatives from Canada’s three largest cities: Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.

These are welcome opportunities to bring the vision, share the early successes of Our Food Future to global audiences and further align our work with world leaders in sustainability and circular economies.

Unprecedented collaboration produces a fully circular restaurant meal

Closer to home, we kicked off World Food Day by showcasing a groundbreaking example of our circular food economy in action: Re(Purpose): a circular food experience. Led by Provision Coalition, seven local food businesses came together to explore opportunities to keep nutrients in the food systems and waste out of the landfill.

It starts with a brewery’s waste grains. These are upcycled as feed for an insect farm that produces animal feed, which then goes to a trout farm. The insect and fish waste become natural fertilizer for potatoes. Since the insect farm cannot use all of the grain, the remaining portion goes to a bakery to help produce bread.

The result: three delicious trout meals that pair well with a pint of beer; a fully circular meal that is the product of unprecedented levels of food waste repurposing.

Hungry yet? We invite you to enjoy this meal or one of the other variations at one of The Neighbourhood Group’s fine restaurants: The Wooly Pub, Park Grocery Deli Bar and Miijidaa Café Bistro.

RePurpose partner infographic

Reducing food waste from coast to coast

Our Food Future has joined with Love Food Hate Waste Canada (a program by the National Zero Waste Council) to help increase awareness of food waste across Guelph-Wellington and Canada.

In June, the Council surveyed households to better understand the impact of COVID-19 on consumer behaviours related to food waste. They found the pandemic may have had a positive impact on food management in the home: Canadians report they are planning more, wasting less, and are more inclined to think creatively about how to use up leftovers.

Closer to home, the Guelph Community Foundation released a report in September on the impact of COVID-19 on food insecurity in Guelph and Wellington County.

Finally, this week is Waste Reduction Week in Canada. Tomorrow, October 23, the focus is on food waste—a perfect fit for Our Food Future. In addition to helpful tips and resources for organizations and families, Waste Reduction Canada is encouraging Canadians to take the Food Waste Pledge. There is even a special pledge for kids.

Join me and the Smart Cities Office in taking the pledge tomorrow.

Love Food Hate Waste social media image Waste Reduction Week schedule

Your seat at the Kitchen Table is ready

Our Food Future’s online engagement and innovation platform, The Kitchen Table, launched in September. The easy-to-use online community resource will increase visibility for program updates and success stories, host intriguing collaborative challenges, build connections to drive crowd-sourced innovations, pull new projects and organizations into the Our Food Future conversation, and lay the foundation for an active online community to strengthen and sustain our circular food economy well into the future.

Join us and bring a colleague or friend with you. The more voices and ideas around the table, the richer the conversation.

Kitchen Table banner

Deadline fast approaching for Guelph-Wellington Urban Agriculture Challenge

Do you have an idea or project for growing food in Guelph-Wellington? Then Guelph-Wellington Urban Agriculture Challenge is for you. The challenge – an initiative of 10C – will strengthen and implement ideas that will support circular economic recovery. This is an exciting opportunity to ignite collaboration and ideation amongst the Our Food Future community and beyond. A two-part application process and online community animation through Kitchen Table will further develop the strongest ideas. Cash awards will total $102,000 in three categories.

Applications for the Transformative Urban Agriculture and the Scaling Out Community Agriculture streams are due by midnight on Friday, October 30. Applications for the Shovel and Fork fund are due by midnight on Monday, November 16. Applicants may include non-profit or charitable organizations, Indigenous groups, for-profit businesses, co-operatives and social enterprises, or informal community groups.

Greenhouse Hands planting something in dirt

Resiliency with Purpose: support available for food and beverage companies

Through Our Food Future, food and beverage industry advisory firm Provision Coalition is providing direct assessments and consulting services for regional food and beverage businesses. As part of the plan to promote green economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, Provision Coalition has launched two new “Resiliency with Purpose” support programs, R-Purpose and R-Purpose MICRO. The programs aim to help food and beverage companies increase efficiency, circularity and profits while reducing operating costs and waste. Space is still available in both programs.

Backyards across Guelph-Wellington provided the foundation for tasty food this past summer

“The best part of our [Kids Get Growing] garden experience was definitely stopping for a garden snack while playing in the backyard,” laughed Brittany Fraser, mom to Hudson and Grayson Sheardown. “The veggies rarely made their way into the house, as they were picked and eaten right away!”

The Fraser-Sheardown family was one of 700 households in Guelph-Wellington that ordered the Kids Get Growing free at-home gardening kit last spring. Participants reported that the kits led to some terrific learning opportunities, time together as a family, and important discussions about the relationship between farming and our food.

We’ll be sharing some of their stories on over the coming weeks.

Child sitting in green gardening bucket Adult standing beside a child on a bike and one in wagon with two gardening buckets

Planting the seeds that will inspire change in local organizations

In July, we let you know that we received more than 70 applications for Seeding Our Food Future, a project in partnership with Innovation Guelph’s Circular Food Economy iHub. Innovation Guelph selected 40 applicants from Guelph-Wellington food system businesses, not-for-profits and social enterprises, and provided each with a $5,000 grant – along with coaching and education programs – to support ideas and collaborations contributing to the circular food economy and recovery from current economic shocks due to COVID-19.

Work with the recipients is now underway, and we will follow select organizations on their journey through this process. Through the program we will also identify opportunities to connect different projects and organizations to strengthen their work and the whole circular food economy. We will share these stories with you over the coming year.

Home deliveries continue with no sign of slowing down

The SEED’s Emergency Food Home Delivery program continues to tackle increased food insecurity in our community due to COVID-19. Thanks to a collaboration amongst businesses, charities, donors and volunteers, the SEED anticipates delivering 40,000 food boxes by the end of October, and with no sign of slowing down. Our Food Future is matching up to $90,000 in community donations on a special fundraising platform of the Harve$t Impact Fund, a project of Our Food Future led by 10C. Please continue to use your communications channels to promote this important community fundraiser, and consider it as an alternative to a traditional gift this coming holiday season.

Volunteers packing food at The SEED

As we look forward to the coming months, we will be publishing the first installment of the Our Food Future’s Year in Review. This publication—which will be updated annually—recaps our collective work through 2020. In the end, we will have a guide that other municipalities and counties can reference as they embark on creating their own circular food economy.

On a personal note, I wanted to share with you that Cathy Kennedy will be retiring from the City of Guelph and the Smart Cities Office at the end of the year. As most of you know, Cathy and I have worked side by side to win the Smart City competition and to launch the Our Food Future initiative. Most days I wonder what I will do without her enthusiasm, professionalism and commitment to this project and public service. Those of us who have worked alongside Cathy are sad to see her leave, but are equally thrilled that she will have more time to peruse other interests and spend time with family. Over the coming months, we will be transitioning Cathy’s work to other members of the Smart Cities Office to keep this important initiative moving forward. Thank you Cathy for your continued energy, passion and time.

Finally, on behalf of the Smart Cities Office, may you have a safe, healthy and prosperous fall season.

Barbara Swartzentruber
Executive Director
Smart Cities Office