Fresh in the City

Recently the MTCC welcomed Fresh City Farms to the Total Health Show. My office happens to look right down onto the show floor, and when spring arrives, exhibitors go all out, decorating their booths with spring flowers, plants, and even food. Fresh City was no exception.

I admit I took the long way through the building to my meetings so that I could purposely walk by their display of fresh vegetables and herbs, spilling bountifully out of their charming vintagey wine crates. If I didn’t take the train everyday I would have been tempted to take some home!

The Fresh City concept is centred around urban farming. Smack in the middle of the GTA, they grow food on a two-acre plot in Downsview park. They also have a 3000 sq. ft. greenhouse where they start seedlings, run workshops, and come together to process the harvest. That harvest then goes into weekly produce boxes which can be delivered anywhere in Toronto or picked up at a group pickup point. Fresh, organically farmed produce, in the city, delivered to your door, and competitively priced.  Brilliant!

What do they grow? You will be amazed at the variety of conventional as well as heirloom vegetables, including 13 kinds of beans and 10 tomato cultivars.

My favourite thing about their truly awesome website is their weekly Vegetale. It’s been my experience that one of the biggest barriers to buying locally is the mystery of each vegetable and what to do with it. Fresh City’s regular write-ups on a specific ingredient answer questions like “what the heck do I do with fenugreek shoots?”, taking the guesswork out of common and uncommon vegetables and providing recipes too. Their gardening workshops engage further by extending the urban gardening idea to anyone who has a little space to grow food.

The Fresh City model gives city-dwellers a fresh-market experience delivered right to their door, while taking advantage of previously under-utilized, fertile land and closing the loop with the education people need to make it work for them. A very Fresh idea indeed.

Fresh City Farms (647) 721-1150 http://www.freshcityfarms.com/

For more information about the great local programmes at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, check out their blog here.

- Kelly Hughes, Local Food Procurement Officer at Metro Toronto Convention Centre