OPIRG’s Sustainability Happiness Circle is dedicated to provide opportunities and knowledge that encourage the most recent trends in sustainable living, with the intention that these everyday routine modifications will evoke happiness. In an effort to provide adequate resources to do so, the Sustainability Happiness Circle organized for Juby Lee, of Environment Hamilton, to talk about recent movements in Hamilton’s local food economy and how consumers, volunteers and businesses can get involved. For those that couldn’t make it, here is what the presentation outlined.
Juby Lee led an informative discussion surrounding Environment Hamilton’s commitments to support local food initiatives. There are a number of initiatives currently underway to advocate for support of a popular local diet culture in Hamilton. Juby broke Hamilton’s local food imitative down into three areas: Advocacy, Volunteer Support and For-Profit Initiatives, ending with a discussion on the challenges for a local food economy.
Environment Hamilton offers helpful resources such as the Farm Map – a local food directory that lists local farms in the Greater Hamilton Area, where people can purchase or inquire about farming practices and goods.
Growing the Greenbelt is another initiative taken by Environment Hamilton that encourages the expansion of the Greenbelt region by advocating the transition of surrounding “white-belt” urban areas into cultivable green space. “Designating a Greenbelt region is an easy way of protecting green space, but it’s not enough,” says Juby.
The Pollinator Paradise Project is an innovative approach to sustaining and encouraging the health of the solitary bees. Unlike the honeybee, solitary bees aren’t aggressive. These bees are known for their pollinating efforts. One-third of the produce we eat can be attributed to the pollination efforts of the solitary bee. The “Bee Box” is an artificial hive for solitary bees to reproduce, increasing the population and encouraging higher yields for local farmers.
Volunteer Driven Initiatives
Volunteer initiatives such as the Hamilton Food Charter aim at making food accessible to all Hamiltonians, recognizing cost and sustainability, in partnership with the Board of Health. Developments have led to the creation of the first urban farm in Hamilton – the McQuesten Urban Farm. This progressive change has inspired community action to help develop programs such as the Muslim Children’s Club, the Hamilton Community Garden Network and various organized athletics. Other volunteer initiatives include seasonal farmer’s markets and support for the Mustard Seed Coop on Locke Street
For Profit Initiatives
Coffeecology – a fair-trade, organic coffee delivery service.
Madeleine’s Local Bakery
Goodness Me! – Organic foods with local produce options.
Despite these inspiring initiatives, Juby mentions how there are still challenges with a local food economy that need to be addressed. With a lack of resources distribution is one of the most significant barriers. A local food terminal would be ideal, but this requires substantial infrastructural investment. Competition in the market place is another key barrier, as food is often sold under market value. Lastly, there is the issue of making local food and its preparation more convenient for everyone.