I hope this finds you taking time to relax and experience the many joys that summer has to offer in Guelph and Wellington County.
We’re sending this newsletter on the eve of one of our most important annual events (in my opinion!) – Food Day Canada. Saturday is loaded with celebrations both locally and across the country to engage and inspire everyone to shop, cook and dine Canadian. It’s a chance for us all to join hands in one massive celebration in praise of our farmers and fishers, innovators and researchers, chefs and home cooks who are embracing circularity to make our communities, and planet, healthier.
Find out what’s happening and get involved in Food Canada Day.
Saturday is also a celebration of the massive influence of Food Day Canada founder, the late Anita Stewart. Anita’s phenomenal body of work catapulted Canada on the world culinary stage and laid the groundwork for many of the food initiatives leading the way today. She promoted the tenets of the circular food economy long before many of us even understood the concept, and was a personal inspiration and friend. Learn more about Anita’s legacy here.

Anita was proud of the work we’re leading here, I know. You’ll find a rich menu of project updates and information in this edition – enjoy.
Barbara Swartzentruber,
Executive Director

Guelph-Wellington Community Agriculture Challenge to fund small-scale community food growing initiatives

On July 30, Our Food Future will launch the Community Agriculture Challenge to explore how circular principles and community agricultural practices can improve access to affordable, nutritious food in Guelph-Wellington. Successful applicants will receive up to $2,000 to help get them off (or into) the ground, with up to 10 grants being awarded in Guelph or Wellington County. The program will be led by Harve$t Impact—a social financing program of 10C and a core pillar of Our Food Future. Proposals should accelerate personal food production to help people in the community access nutritious food, getting more food to the table with less environmental impact. The deadline to apply for this challenge is October 17th.
Please help spread the word about this important initiative.
Anyone interested can learn more or apply here.

Fall events to explore food equity


Towards Common Ground has been working with Our Food Future and a host of diverse community leaders to articulate the needs and aspiration to explore concepts of community resilience and food equity. In November 2022, a series of connected events will bring community members, community builders, change-makers, leaders and decision-makers together to not only learn about but to ‘experience’ community resilience and food equity. Equipping participants with knowledge and skills about these topics is critical to understand the role we all have in promoting community resilience and food equity where we live, work, learn, heal and play.  More details will be shared in the coming months.

Experimental Acres pilot in bloom


This summer 15 farms in Wellington and Dufferin Counties are trying new regenerative farming methods such as rotational grazing or no-till vegetable farming. Regenerative farming includes any practice that builds or protects the health of our soils. Soil health builds resiliency in farming, and benefits everyone with more nutritious food, flood protection and carbon sequestration.
Increased work began this spring when participants took soil samples to understand the baseline nutrients. Soil takes a long time to form and change, and while they likely won’t see soil test results change this year, project leaders are excited to see visual changes in the plants, animals and insects over the course of the pilot. As the summer unfolds, they will be capturing stories from the field and sharing a new video - stay tuned for results as the Experimental Acres grow!
Learn more and follow along here.

Expanding IC&I organics collection pilot seeks new participants


The Circular Food Recovery Pilot, led by Circular Innovation Council in partnership with Our Food Future, has been successfully trialing an innovative model in Guelph-Wellington to improve management and recovery of edible food and food waste from the Industrial, Commercial and Institutional (IC&I) sector. Preliminary results indicate strong staff engagement and support for the pilot, with minimal additional training required to successfully separate food waste and no reported concerns about odours or pests.

In June, the program was selected as a Finalist in Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Food Waste Reduction Challenge: Business Models stream. The new funding opens the door for larger food-handling businesses and organizations such as long-term care and hospitals to join the pilot, designed to help participants reduce their food waste to lower costs, reduce their carbon footprint and help improve community food access.
Click here for more information on the challenge, or to refer an organization in southwestern Ontario that might be interested in joining the pilot.

Spark grants enter second stage


In May, the Nutritious Foods Workstream completed the initial phase of research for a Food Environment Assessment (FEA) and released an infographic that highlights key findings. The FEA is intended to be a launch point for engagement that will define the most effective actions we can take as a community to improve access to affordable, nutritious food.
As part of the community engagement activity and to assess initial intervention strategies, the workstream unlocked $50,000 to accelerate ideas to action. These Spark Grants provided an opportunity to submit a ready to implement idea, receive input, lead a project and access funds quickly. In the first stage of applications, 32 viable submissions were received, resulting in 16 projects across 13 finalists that will now receive additional stakeholder input, identify possible collaborations, and ultimately award as many as 10 finalists, each receiving $5,000 to $10,000 to move their idea forward.
To learn more about the finalists, visit our website. Winners will be announced by August 15, 2022.

Circulate CoLab now open with up to $120K available

The third round of COIL’S Circulate CoLab launched this summer. It’s a terrific opportunity for teams of 2-5 organizations across the supply chain to submit a novel solution to an industry-wide problem in the food, environment, or construction and demolition sectors. The program offers teams up to $120,000 in funding plus resources and mentorship for projects that reduce waste, upcycle resources and collaborate to build a more sustainable, circular economy. The application deadline is September 9, 2022 at 5pm. The 16-week program will run from October 2022 to January 2023.
Learn more and apply.

COIL now supporting Certified UpcycledTM certification

Upcycled food products are a source of tremendous innovation within multiple COIL programs. Whether it’s turning tofu byproducts into muffins, spent beer grain into a plant-based protein, or juice pulp into ready-to-eat meals, upcycling is a key strategy for reducing food waste and creating new value.
But most consumers still don’t know what upcycling is. Research carried out by Dalhousie University, in partnership with Anthesis Provision and the Upcycled Food Association (UFA) has shown that while fewer than 1 in 5 Canadians have heard of Upcycled Food, once the concept is explained to them, the vast majority (82%) indicate interest in buying upcycled products if they were more readily available.
To help close this gap, COIL is working with Anthesis Provision and UFA to expand the Certified Upcycled™ mark in Canada. It is a consumer facing standard, similar to FairTrade, indicating that a particular percentage of the products ingredients come from upcycled sources.
As part of a COIL demonstration project, we are now working to get at least 10 products from the COIL ecosystem certified and are planning an awareness campaign associated with the mark in fall 2022 as part of Reimagine Food. The Certified Upcycled™ mark will build consumer awareness around upcycled foods and generate demand for circular food products. We also hope it will raise awareness of the exciting circular food economy work happening across Our Food Future and COIL.
Learn more or apply to have a product certified.

Let’s get ready to Reimagine Food together


Our Food Future has spent nearly three years reimagining how our food system can become more sustainable, circular and socially conscious. The time has come to introduce more opportunities for everyone else in our communities to join the movement and explore their role in the circular food economy. This fall, we will launch Reimagine Food, a community engagement campaign that will include farm tours, outreach at markets, festivals and events, tips to help residents reduce food waste, classroom challenges, storytelling from community members and a whole lot more.
The campaign will launch in October with an exclusive feature in Toque Magazine – a highly respected regional lifestyle publication that aligns beautifully with our objectives and will invite readers to – you’ve got it – reimagine our relationship with food. Watch for more on this, and fasten your seatbelt for a fun campaign that will celebrate the great work we’ve been doing together and ignite even more terrific ideas.

How would you REIMAGINE SWAG? Our Food Future and COIL are challenging local artisans to rethink swag for the soon-to-launch Reimagine Food campaign with the Reimagine Food Swag Challenge. Have an idea? Learn more and submit it here.

Guelph Farmers Market continues to expand


The Guelph Farmers Market continues to enhance its offerings to our community with the introduction of Take Home Thursdays, a new pilot running each Thursday from 4-7 pm to introduce an alternate day to shop, and an opportunity for smaller farm vendors and local entrepreneurs to try the Market experience. 
The outdoor market area is bustling, with the newest addition, The SEED, offering their sliding scale pricing model allowing shoppers to pay what they can, along with many favorite returning farmers and three brand new farm vendors. Shopping inside the Market building is a much more comfortable experience post-COVID with significant change to the very crowded centre aisle, creating an easily accessible welcoming space. 
Learn more about changes at Guelph Farmers Market.
ICYMIListen to our May podcast interview with Leanne McGray, Farmers Market lead, and 10C’s executive director Julia Grady.

Connecting students to the circular food economy


This spring Our Food Future’s Ashlee Cooper had the pleasure of working with educators and students to support existing sustainable circular food activities and pilot a circular food system challenge for both elementary and high school classrooms in 2023.
John Galt Public School students were challenged to create a place-based circular food guide. Ashlee led discussions in both the Kindergarten and Grade 8 classes on circular food systems and the circular economy. She also visited the grade 11/12 Green Industries classroom at Centre Wellington District High School. Students were eager to take on designing and planting tiered outdoor garden spaces. 
In 2023 as part of the Reimagine Food campaign, Our Food Future will launch a school wide challenge program at the elementary and high school levels, with multiple awards for elementary and high school projects.
Learn more and view more great photos!