Urban Agriculture Kingston

Promoting food sustainability in an urban centre

  1. Q 1. Kingston General Hospital trucks pre-cooked meals in from Ottawa for its patients. At the same time, City Council has decided that Kingston residents must support the hospital through our taxes.

*Do you think Kingston needs a food procurement policy that makes sense? A local food procurement policy? How can City Hall work to make sure that our institutions - small and large - pay more than lip-service to sustainable local food? 

Yes, a local food procurement policy makes sense.  I propose the formation of a study group at City Hall to research and make recommendations for a policy.  Input from public groups would be essential.  Inducements could be part of any plan.

A year or two ago there was a meeting of local large employers, stakeholders and KEDCO.  At that meeting, the concept of purchasing local food was discussed.  The trucking-in of meals by the hospital was the focus of discussions.  It is my understanding that there were preliminary talks for all the institutions in Kingston to join together to create a scale of demand that would make it economically feasible.   It is important that the promotion of local food and the taste of the food be part of the consideration when providing food to a number of people.   I will pursue this goal. 

Q 2. a) There is a growing population in Kingston of low-income and marginalized people who can't afford to eat, let alone eat healthy, fresh, local food. Food banks and meal programs tell us that demand just keeps rising despite generous charitable support throughout our community.

b) At the same time, Kingston area farmers have trouble making a living growing food. Many need off-farm work just to get by.

* What specific policies can City Hall come up with that would help both groups?  

I will support a living wage policy that will ensure that city workers and those working on contracts for the city will be able to afford shelter and food and still have some money to save or purchase items.  I would also promote a “reach out” program to larger institutions and businesses with the aim of each hosting a community garden that would be run by the employees or local volunteers.

I have struggled with the idea that I am contributing to the difficulties of farmers when I look for the cheapest items in grocery stores, however, if I choose more expensive items the farmers will not get the profits.  While I have been fortunate so that I can pay more for food I realize others are less fortunate. 

I wonder if there is a way that we could connect farmers with people other than at the markets downtown and at the top of Collins Bay Road.  There could be a market at the agricultural land at the prison.

It is time so think creatively. Could we have a geared- to- income market of goods?  There are some cultural events at which people pay according to their ability; maybe a new food market could be like that.  This type of market may duplicate the work of grocery stores so it would need the value-added aspect of supporting local farmers and food. 

There must be enlightened communities elsewhere which have found successful ways of helping those with limited incomes purchase local, healthy food. Let's do some research. 

* How big an issue should food security be for City Hall? And Should City Hall allocate financial resources to support organizations dedicated to community food security?

There is a quotation that we are three square meals away from a revolution.  While I am not expecting a revolution any time soon, we must be aware of the importance of being in control of our own food.    More people are understanding this importance.  It is already ingrained in those who have come from places that have had breaches in their food security.   As with the cessation of smoking, it may take some time to convince the majority of people to buy into such a concept.  There is a documentary that has been released that examines this issue, Strange Fruit.  We need to keep this issue in the public attention.  It would be wise to begin to invest in food security now before it is too late. 

Q 3 One way to promote food security and a sustainable food system is for a city like Kingston to start an official Food Policy Council. It would come up with on-the-ground programs for equitable food access, nutrition, community development and environmental health, and would help to inform municipal policies around issues such as those we've been discussing here today.

*What do you think of this idea? Would you commit to working with Council and the community to implementing a food policy council for Kingston?

Yes, I would support the establishment of this council providing that it would be inclusive and representative.  Such programs would make people healthier which would be less expensive for our healthcare system and could draw investment to the area. 

Q4. Community Gardens and other forms of Urban Agriculture have been shown to improve eating habits, and build community cohesion in neighbourhoods, supporting more people in growing some of their own food.

Kingston has taken some significant steps forward in the past year or so with a new Community Gardens Policy and so on, but still our Urban Agriculture efforts lag far behind similarly sized cities in Ontario.

*Can you identify 3 Kingston locations that could be considered for developing community gardens?

Community gardens are a great idea for a variety of ways.  I have always admired the garden near to QECVI at Oak Street Park.  I have not talked with constituents in other districts so I will indicate sites in Lakeside.  In Lakeside, gardens could be established in Jorene Park, Patterson Park near Wartman house, and the prison farm land.  As well, city council could seek a partnership with Invista, to promote a community garden on this land, perhaps maintained by a committee of employees. 


 

Q5. Would you support a bylaw change to allow backyard hens? Why? Why not?

Yes, if there were only a few (up to 4) in each yard without any roosters.  There also needs to be somewhere for the hens to seek shelter from predators.  I asked people who have kept hens for their recommendations.  These parameters should deal with the concerns which I have heard. 

Backyard hens would help us in our aim to be more sustainable and it may be healthier and good for the animals.