The Parry Sound & Area Food Collaborative recently held the first of two Food Labs in Parry Sound in partnership with volunteer organizers from Studio [Y] at the MaRS Discovery District. The goal was to develop innovative strategies to support a sustainable and equitable food system in the Parry Sound area. Participants have opportunities to network, gain fresh perspectives, provide input on issues, and generate innovative ideas.
Participants were also challenged to envision projects, partnerships and programs which could be implemented locally. Concepts discussed ranged from the everyday to the extraordinary, including:
- Encourage class trips to farms
- Create farm mentoring program
- Establish a food advocacy committee
- Compile a directory of workable land for rent
- Personally increase time to cook
- Advance local procurement policies in schools, hospitals, etc.
- Create demonstration green roofs
- Promote home composting
- Host a music event on a farm
- Hold community cook-offs with local food
The first of the Food Labs was March 31st at the Bobby Orr Community Centre. By initially creating multiple maps of local food related projects, policies, groups, businesses, services, and other stakeholders, participants identified important trends. Examples of possible trends include: lack of local food available to consumers; lack of connection between local food producers and distribution; and shortage of knowledge of gardening and cooking.
One participant commented “I now realized the connections between food and community are paramount. I will increase my effort to connect with many different parts of my community.” Another participant stated “There are a lot of great people here doing great things, and I need to take more action. I want to be part of the change toward a more sustainable food system and economy for the Parry Sound area.”
The second Food Lab will take place in April to prioritize and further develop these ideas and define a strategies to achieve them. A post-lab report will be created to summarize findings, ideas, and initiatives created over both Food Labs, and will be made available online.