A small town in Toronto is leading the way for food advocacy by providing affordable and accessible produce to low income residents – and they’re doing it from a shipping container!
Moss Park is now home to an insulated shipping container donated by Storstac. It’s part of a two-year pilot project spearheaded by urban agriculture initiative Building Roots to bring healthy food to neighbourhoods.
Lisa Kates and Darcy Higgins are the founding duo of Building Roots and the brainchild behind the idea for a shipping container market. This is the first of what they hope will be many like it.
“People at the City and Toronto Community Housing are interested already in replicating this. It could be perfect for lots of communities, especially in these tower neighbourhoods where renewal projects are starting. But we’ll start with this, and see how it goes.” says Kates.
Drawing of shipping container market:
Kates and Higgins recruited Wali Barak to run the market. He previously ran a farmer’s market nearby and has 16+ years of experience building relationships with suppliers, which is how he is able to keep his produce prices low. That andToronto Community Housing Corporation is covering the rent and hydro in partnership with other donors. The market is open three days a week, year round, and sells local and exotic produce at economical prices.
Why We Need This
With the cost of living continuing to rise across Canada, a lot of people are feeling the squeeze. According to Statistics Canada, fruit, vegetables, and meat prices are on the decline thanks to a stronger loonie, but they’re still more expensive than they were at this time last year. Fresh vegetable prices are up 1.9% and fruit prices are up 4.9% from a year ago.
Statistics Canada also reports that 8.8% of Canadian families are low-income, and though they do not collect information on the number of homeless persons in Canada, we know that homelessness exists.
We would love to see more initiatives like the Moss Park Market pop up in communities everywhere. Farmer’s markets have been growing in popularity across Canada. They provide fresh (and often local) fruits and vegetables, but many price comparisons show that these markets don’t always offer the best rates, likely because they have high overheads to meet rent and staffing needs.
Wouldn’t it be great if communities could subsidize rent for farmer’s markets in lower income areas using shipping containers? A small shipping container from Storstac is about 80 sq ft to 160 sq ft and could fit nicely in the corner of a parking lot or on the edge of a park.
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