To match this season’s energy and vibrancy, there has been lots of spring activity in urban agriculture here in London. Many of the FUAL working groups have been very active and have a lot to report on. Others might be merging or folding depending on interests and waning or coalescing energies. This is the natural evolution of organic networks! Here are some of the news items some of you may find interesting.
1. MARK YOUR CALENDARS: URBAN AGRICULTURE STRATEGY LAUNCH, MAY 11th
Registration is now open for the community meeting to review the draft Urban Agriculture Strategy. It will be May 11, 2017 between 6:30pm and 8:30pm at St. Peter’s Cathedral Auditorium, located at 506 Richmond Street. It’s free and open to all, but please register so we have an idea of numbers.
A draft of the strategy will be circulated in advance of the meeting and posted on the City of London Urban Agriculture webpage. In the meantime you can also still review and contribute to the draft urban agriculture inventory while you are there. Here at FUAL, we will alert you to the release of this report as soon as we learn of it.
2. SUMMER SOLSTICE CELEBRATION
3. 100IN1DAY - PLAN AN ACTIVITY!
100In1Day London is coming Saturday June 3, 2017 as part of a global festival of citizen engagement. Join hundreds of Londoners by taking one small action to improve our city - plan a weed pulling party, a forage hike, a tool demonstration or whatever - the choice is yours!
4. WORKING GROUP UPDATES
Home Gardens Group
Organized film night at one of our houses in March. The film was on Permaculture and also had a section on "Cob Building". It was a beautiful film that showed initiatives by people in places as varied as Oregon and Montreal. It showed how you can create gardens in small spaces that can produce lots of produce because of smart planting and gardening techniques. The film also spoke about communities, and how gardening can bring people together in community. It showed the development of some artistic endeavours around community, and people getting together to build structures that facilitated sharing. There was an interesting segment on "Cob Building", a technique where people use clay and special techniques to build things like benches. We had 10 people in attendance, so I would say that our film night was a success, as we had a lively discussion after the film while we munched on a few organic goodies that we brought.
Compiling a comprehensive list of resources that gardeners in London might like to access. Please reach out to Sheila at firstname.lastname@example.org. Sheila is trying to make sure we have a complete list of events that are going on, and also where to get information on a variety of gardening topics. Send her an email if you have some information for her. Here is the initial list that has been already compiled: http://fual.weebly.com/gardening-resources-in-london.html
All of us are now working to ready our gardens for spring, and some of us plant our own seedlings inside to get some plants ready for planting after the frost. I have planted some cold weather seeds such as snap peas and pole beans. It is amazing to watch our perennials start to come up---things like rhubarb, wild spring flowers and asparagus.
Urban Livestock Group
Held its inaugural meeting on April 21st. Working on the draft of a backyard hen pilot program. Led a Backyard Chicken Workshop on 22nd of April. This was a professional workshop led by a long-term chicken farmer that could be used by the city to certify backyard hen keepers.
Tool Sharing/ Resources Group
Applied for two grants to:
- provide us with a place to store inventory and begin operations.
- create a mobile fix-it / make-it workshop to engage the community at events and festivals.
Connecting with potential partners and sponsors within the city (e.g. LPL, TREA, UnLondon, Community Centres, various Community Support Services, Commercial Businesses, etc.). Looking into finding the best organizational form of either social enterprise or co-op with an interest in marketing produce or products.
Food Forest Group
Looking into starting a co-op or not-for-profit organization for the advancement of food forests planting, harvesting and processing activities
In the process of mapping out (using GIS) abandoned orchards, solitary fruit trees within the London area. these maps will be made available as open source on the Internet for Londoners to access.
The Gibbons Park Montessori School was successful at securing a TreeMe grant for planting a food forest on school grounds (grand planting day on May 28)
The West Lion’s Park Food Forest project is off the ground with a successful community meeting on April 20
Kensington Village Association was successful in its application for a cider press. They will be looking into ways of sharing their tool with other community groups across the city.
Helped in successful hosting of Environmental Commissioner of Ontario event on 30 March, in conjunction with LEN.
Planning a May meeting.
Gary Zavitz has secured the Green Drinks presence for London, ON. He has offered to share it with LEN and offered to FUAL to be holding social events under the banner. The LEN sponsored event will be on June 14th RSVP here!
Small Businesses Group
Met in March and have decided that the best way forward is to help bring a business lens to other FUAL groups given their small business experience so far or as with the connections to business supports from the Province and larger agricultural business supports from those who have and have recently had careers in agriculture, food system policy and governance in the region and across the province.
Help other working groups to find right business model or working with a current business model within London or in its immediate periphery.
Distributing a brief survey to FUAL members asking the how they see bringing our business lenses to other groups either formally or informally and how that looks for those who may want to explore business in this sector in this city.
Foraging, Policy & Community Gardens Groups
Next meetings TBD.