I recently learned about the Black Creek Community Farm from a press release sent out about a partnership they are involved in with Lyft, an American ridesharing company that operates in Canada. They were nice enough to put me in touch with Leticia Deawuo, the Director of Black Creek Community Farm to learn more about the amazing work they do and how our readers can get involved.
Describe your charity/non-profit in a few sentences.
Black Creek Community Farm is a non-profit organization that aims to increase people’s access to healthy food through its programming and food distribution projects throughout the GTA.
Our goal is to increase access to healthy food in our densely populated community through programming and food distribution projects.
What problem does it aim to solve?
Through programming and food distribution projects, Black Creek Community Farm aims to increase access to healthy food in our communities. All of our programs have food security as a central element, with food literacy and food justice as key components.
Transportation is one of the key barriers to accessing fresh affordable produce for many families in Toronto, especially since the pandemic hit. Thanks to Lyft, who has supported our organization by offering free ride credits, we’re able to offer transportation to our community members, increasing their access to healthy foods again.
When did you start/join it?
BCCF opened its gates in 2013 and used to be the Toronto Urban Farm, which was a component of the City of Toronto’s youth strategy, in which gardening would be used as a recreational tool for youth. Toronto and Region Conservation Authority assumed management and worked with community organizations including Afri-can Food Basket and Foodshare Toronto to examine how the farm can play a key role in addressing food insecurity for the Jane and Finch community.
What made you want to get involved?
I began to organize around food justice back when I was a community organizer with Jane and Finch Action Against Poverty (JFAAP). I was then hired as a community engagement coordinator to explore how our community can take on leadership roles in activating the farm.
What was the situation like when you started?
When we began, we were focused on making the land and soil suitable for farming. The pavilion and the brick oven didn’t exist back then and there were no programs offered to the wider community. Now, we have a number of community programs to engage people directly. Initially, the farm wasn’t about directly tackling food justice or dismantling racism in the food movement. Instead of prescribing what food justice looked like for Jane and Finch, we wanted to make sure our community members made the decision what food justice looked like for them. Our farm has been driven by our community from the beginning.
How has it changed since?
Urban agriculture across the city has grown so much since we began. Recently, the city put forward a motion that highlighted the Black Creek Community Farm as a model for other initiatives that need to take place for addressing food security. We are not just growing food here — it’s a community hub for groups and members of our community to gather and share ideas. We also helped support the formations of many gardens in our community. Since COVID-19, our operations have had to adapt and modify our services to meet the needs of our community members. The support from Lyft during this time enabled us to quickly share resources with organizations like Jane and Finch Centre and Black Creek Health Centre. We were able to mobilize food and essential resources as well as support our staff get to work in a reliable and comfortable way.
What more needs to be done?
We really need to focus on job security for our community where people have access to fair wages and don’t face food insecurity. Additionally, racism compounds the negative impacts on people who are looking to support their families and loved ones.
Since the pandemic hit our neighbourhoods, many of us have been concerned about transportation due to health concerns. Existing challenges with our public transit system were aggravated as physical distancing became harder to maintain. Lyft credits have allowed us to offer reliable and affordable transportation to our community members, increasing their access to healthy foods again.
How can our readers help?
Readers can support us by donating directly to keep our programming and food production ongoing. Through your financial support, our small organization can stay responsive to the needs within our community. Please visit our website to donate.
Do you have any events coming up?
Our BCCF Farm Festival will be taking place on Sunday, July 26 online due to COVID-19 limiting public events. Details HERE.
We are also strategizing with BIPOC chefs in our community to innovate alternative fundraising events as our fundraiser dinner has been cancelled due to COVID-19.
Where can we follow you?
PAY IT FORWARD: What is an awesome local charity that you love?
We are currently supporting the Black Women’s Agriculture Freedom Fund to make sure black women have the resources they need to support and feed their communities. Additionally, we also want to highlight Afri-can Food Basket who’s our partner and Adda Blooms which was started by a former youth intern.