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Peel Local Food Literacy in Action

November 11, 2019

Have you ever been to Iceland? No, not the country – that’s the Iceland Teaching Garden, a 15,000 square foot organic urban garden located next to the Iceland Arena in Mississauga.

The garden is a feature site of Ecosource’s Peel Local Food Literacy in Action project, a 3-year program to encourage individuals in Peel to support a healthy and sustainable environment through field-to-table education, urban agriculture, youth leadership, and local food action projects.

The Iceland Teaching Garden is maintained by community volunteers and local youth who want to get involved. In addition to skills training programs and weekly drop-in gardening workshops, the garden also hosts field trips from local schools. Here, community members, children, and youth can participate in hands-on learning about gardening and local food systems as well as getting outdoors and connecting to the environment.

Many different growing and harvesting techniques are used in order to make the garden a space where lots of learning happens. The majority of the harvest – many types of veggies, as well as fruit from fruit trees – is donated to the local food bank.

The remaining portion of the harvest is sent to the Local Food Hub, which includes a fully-accessible teaching kitchen as well as a smaller demonstration garden.

Here, school groups and community members can build their food literacy skills through cooking and food transformation activities like preserving garden harvest.

Often, vegetables from the Iceland garden are used to showcase different vegetable-based dishes that people can make, and encourage them to try new foods and flavours. Other times, participants are able to harvest food from the demonstration garden and cook it right away, for a complete field-to-table experience in the space of just one workshop.

The Local Food Hub’s Monday drop-in workshops have been quite successful recently, with about 20-25 people per week, of all ages and walks of life. Here, food is the universal common denominator bringing people together, and even over the course of a 2-hour workshop, the coordinators see small moments of people bonding over food.

The Iceland Garden is also the home of the Young Urban Growers, an urban agriculture and social enterprise skills training program for youth aged 15-25 in Peel.

The program acts a bit like an incubator to support youth in their projects to reach out to their peers and to the community and share their views on why engaging with the local food system is important.

For example, the program recently gave rise to a youth-led podcast on local food issues in Peel Region (multiple episodes are already available!)

To learn more about the project or to get involved, you can visit the Peel Local Food Literacy in Action webpage.

The Peel Local Food Literacy in Action project is run by Ecosource and supported by the Ontario Trillium Foundation.