Unearthing Stories of Food Justice

 

 

 

A film screening and panel discussion focused on bringing to light stories of food justice took place recently at Malvern Library, in partnership with FoodShare and the National Farmers Union (NFU). The evening symbolized ‘sharing’- sharing food, sharing ideas, and sharing art.

The National Farmers Union (NFU) launched their Depth of Field project in 2023, filming 40 short films about farmers all across Canada. The goal of the project is to inspire Canadian eaters to learn more about farming and the thoughtful commitment of farmers in communities all across Canada, like the ones featured in Depth of Field, that contribute to building a thriving food system benefiting people and the land. We screened three films at this event: Lucky Bug Farm (Ontario), Ga Gitigemi Gamik (We Will Plant Lodge) (Ontario), and Back to Roots Farm (Manitoba). The farmers featured in these films spoke about Indigenous resurgence, cultural foods, regenerative practices, food sovereignty, and community, all of which are important ideas behind the work MFRC staff and community members do at Malvern Urban Farm and through the rest of our food justice work. You can find these films and all the others here: https://www.nfu.ca/filmsaboutfarming/

Malvern Family Resource Centre partnered with FoodShare’s Right to Food campaign and Toronto Food Stories artist residency program to bring this event to life. From August 2023 to January 2024, artists from across the city were immersed in food justice-related learning through participation in workshops, site visits, and hands-on experiences with organizations working in their local communities and the city at large. The primary goals of the residency were to:

  • Highlight the narratives of organizations that are working to defend the food rights of their communities.
  • Use the art-making process to draw attention to the urgent crisis of food insecurity in Toronto and how it manifests in different neighborhoods across the city.
  • Build meaningful connections between artists and community organizers working towards building food security in their neighborhoods.

Sun, a multimedia, Neurodivergent, Nonbinary, Queer Tamil artist, was selected as the East Toronto artist. They launched their zine at the event. It’s called Eating is Hard but food sovereignty is a journey full of wonder, community, and magic! Their guiding questions included:

  • What does food joy look like to you?
  • What about food makes you excited?
  • Is there anything in your relationship with food that you’d like to change?
  • What about things do you want to keep?
  • How does food connect you to your community?
  • What would food sovereignty look like to you?

They also included a beautiful definition of food sovereignty in their work: the empowered ability to choose your food, from growing to cooking to your table. You deserve food that is culturally relevant, filling enough, and respectfully accessed.

Food sovereignty is a process, and it is something that MFRC is striving to include in all of our work through our food strategy for 2024-2026. Not everyone wants to grow their own food, and they shouldn’t have to in order to eat. Building connections between eaters and growers helps to get around this challenge, which was discussed during the final portion of the evening: the farmer panel.

Hermmela Tafesse, an earthworker and multidisciplinary artist, was joined by two community farmers from Malvern Urban Farm, Sumathy Thankan, and Jennifer Forde. Jennifer is also the founder of the Courtyard and Scarborough Farmers’ Markets. The three panelists spoke about how they found themselves working in agriculture, and the importance of community connections through food, access to growing space, and the possibilities that food sovereignty brings.

Hansel, one of the Right to Food coordinators, wrapped the panel nicely with the following statement: “communities have the right to ask for, to demand the things they need.” Food is one of these rights.

Some of the questions and food for thought we would like you to leave with are: What do you wish was different about how your community accesses food, growing space, and green space?

We hope you join us at the MFRC farmers’ market and at other events coming up this summer and continue to think about your answer and about how we can demand better from our community food systems!

Blog by
Claire Perttula, Food Justice Projects Coordinator

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