Black food sovereignty movement takes root in Toronto

Aliyah Fraser has always been fascinated by the powerful simplicity of growing food.

But it took a long time, a pandemic and a social justice movement, to see farming as a viable career option. “I never saw farmers that looked like me,” she says.

why are we writing this

Charity can be a vital tool to meet immediate needs. But when it comes to food security, generosity alone doesn’t fix the root problems. In Toronto, a fledgling effort shows how nurturing empowerment can be.

Now, she is part of a growing movement to diversify food production in Canada. Amid shortages caused by pandemic-driven disruptions and skyrocketing inflation, that work is helping shift the conversation about food insecurity from one that relies on charity to alleviate hunger to a longer-term goal of empowerment. of blacks and food sovereignty.

In April, the Toronto City Council voted to update its food charter to address inequities in the system. The move is part of a broader effort to support Black-led food safety initiatives.

“In order to get where we want to go in addressing the inequalities that we experience that are holding us back or keeping us down,” says Winston Husbands, a food justice activist, “we need to be in a position to exercise some kind of stewardship of the food system to our own needs and in our own interests.

Moffat, Ontario

Aliyah Fraser has always been fascinated by the powerful simplicity of growing food. She started in her grandmother’s garden in Toronto, where she watched in amazement as tomatoes, pumpkins, and gourds swelled. “I was just running around like a little rascal, eating all the ripe raspberries,” she says. “That garden has always been my safe space.”

But it took a long time, a pandemic and a social justice movement, to see farming as a viable career. “I just never really saw myself as a farmer. I never saw farmers that looked like me,” he says, sinking a homemade wooden digger into the dirt, planting garlic on a chilly afternoon in rural Ontario.

It is as mundane a task as any farmer. But the larger goal, as she begins her second season as the owner of the Lucky Bug Farm, is much less prosaic. “What I am trying to model with Lucky Bug Farm, as a socially just, environmentally sustainable and financially solvent farm run by a black woman, should not be so radical, revolutionary or never seen before. But it is.”

why are we writing this

Charity can be a vital tool to meet immediate needs. But when it comes to food security, generosity alone doesn’t fix the root problems. In Toronto, a fledgling effort shows how nurturing empowerment can be.

She joins other farmers, agriculture groups and justice advocates who are pushing to diversify Canada’s food production and allow underserved communities more control over the system. Amid shortages caused by pandemic-driven disruptions and skyrocketing inflation, that work is helping shift the conversation about food insecurity from one that relies on charity to alleviate hunger to a longer-term goal of empowerment. of blacks and food sovereignty. She is part of a growing movement in North America.

“The normal way to measure food insecurity is to ask people how often… they should go hungry,” says Winston Husbands, a food justice campaigner at Afri-Can FoodBasket in Toronto. “Those are good indicators, and some of the tools that people use to address food insecurity work in the short term. But they do not generate food sovereignty”.

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