Soups On In Guelph

Farm To Fork is happy to announce that another awesome group is about to kick things up a notch in Guelph. Launching in October, Soup Sisters and Broth Brothers will meet each month at 39 Carden Street Bistro to enjoy a light meal while preparing fresh nutritious soup for the women and children of Guelph-Wellington Women In Crisis centre.

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Every Day Of The Month officially launched October 3rd, 2013 with a goal of helping to eliminate food insecurity in our community. While the night was cause for celebration, we were also reminded that our work is far from over. Every day in our community people are going without food. Friends, family members, neighbours – wondering whether or not to pay for their heat or rent, or instead buy food. Many of us are fortunate enough to not have to struggle with these decisions. The sad reality is that too many people do. We can do better.

During the launch event, we were honoured to hear first hand from Tina Brophey about her life, and her experiences with the emergency food services. Tina spoke eloquently. Tina spoke matter-of-factly. Tina spoke for those in our community who often go unheard. With permission, the Farm To Fork team is proud to tell her story below.

Thank you once again Tina for taking part in our launch. And thank you to everyone who has supported the Farm To Fork project. Together we can eliminate food insecurity in our community.

Thank you for having me here tonight. Today is October 3rd. My check for October is almost all gone. I didn’t waste it on drugs to escape, or the proverbial taxis to the beer store. I paid my rent, got my bus pass, paid my phone bill and bought a few groceries. I have 28 days until I get another assistance check. I will need to access food supports, if I want to eat on ALL of those 28 days. I won’t be alone. I will eat surrounded my men, women and children at the Drop In Centre or the church. I will visit the Food Bank, pantries and Hope House, and meet with people and volunteers who will help with a smile.

The Farm To Fork initiative is a great assistance to those food providers and volunteers. Helping them to address the needs of their organizations and the people they serve. I used to work as a Community Advocate in a neighbourhood group. Onward Willow is based in a high density, low-income area of Guelph. We offer “Emergency Food” packages to tide people over for a day or two if something like a check was late, or while they waited for a food bank appointment. I know the struggle our organization faced if we were running low on the essentials. We’d scramble to get tomato sauce, or powdered milk, to fill an unexpected increase in usage, or if donations dwindled. The Farm To Fork site will help connect those pantries with the donors in a more meaningful way. Being able to post the needs of the group means that we won’t run into the problem of 100 jars of peanut butter and no crackers or soup.

When I worked there, farmers would arrive with big bags of corn or potatoes. Unprepared, we’d get volunteers to drop a bag at every house in the nearby complexes, as storage and freshness were concerns. If those farmers had used Farm To Fork, we could plan, let the community know and coordinate with other community groups.

Farm To Fork will also highlight that good, healthy foods are needed and hopefully reduce the amount of dented, out dated cans of cranberry sauce and artichoke hearts donated.

I’d like to thank the great minds behind this idea for thinking of me and all the other faces of poverty. My sincere hope is that soon higher minimum wages and social assistance rates will make food banks a thing of the past. I’m sure I’m not the only one here who dreams of at time where everyone has safe, affordable homes and healthy diets that are sustainable for every day of the month.

Thank you

Secret Santa Guelph

#SecretSantaGuelph. Image via QuidBlog (

#SecretSantaGuelph. Image via QuidBlog (

Guest Post: By Bang Ly.

Bang Ly is one of those people that truly defines the spirit of Guelph.

Several years ago he started the Secret Santa Guelph event. Designed to bring the community together to celebrate the season while giving back, Bang has raised several thousand dollars for the Brant Avenue Public School’s Food and Friends Program. This year he’s at it again, and he’s looking for your help.

If you are interested in helping out, Bang has provided details at the bottom of this post.

#SecretSantaGuelph is an annual charity event where Netizens from the Twitterverse come together and donate gift cards from a local supermarket directly to Brant Avenue Public School. 100% of the donation funnels directly into Brant Avenue Public School’s Food and Friends Program which provides a healthy snack for the students throughout the day. The school is located in one of Guelph Ontario’s lowest income neighbourhoods and more often than not, the students come to school without a lunch and very few have the chance to have eaten breakfast. Without extra funding the Food Program is able to provide food three days a week until the end of May. The school year however, ends in June.

This is the reason our event exists.

#SecretSantaGuelph aims to bolster the Food and Friends Program for as long as possible. This is the third year we have run this event and our donations year over year have grown by 60%. We gather our donations by engaging twitter users in Guelph Ontario and nearby townships with an open invitation to a gift exchange and party. The donated gift cards allow the school to easily track their spending and catalogue who spends their money on what. We have even begun receiving donations from corporate sponsors and local business have been using our hashtag to promote our event which is a fantastic leap forward for us. There is still plenty of room to grow.

We know #SecretSantaGuelph is not a solution to the root cause of Brant Avenue Public School’s food issues. We know we are merely addressing the symptoms but our organization is incredibly small. I mean, it’s just me and a handful of amazing Guelph citizens and small businesses who want to help kids not have to worry about adult problems. We have just a few more weeks to raise enough funding to bring the program to five days a week until the end of June.

Brant Avenue Public School has roughly 145 students and as I’m informed by the Principal, 91% of the students at this school are from single parent families and live below the poverty line. We are trying to make this problem more manageable for the students, parents and staff at this school while shining a light on a problem that people may have heard about but had not known just how close to home it hits. As of the writing of this post, we have received enough funding to provide food for Brant Avenue Public School for four days a week until the end of June. We are roughly $3000 short of making a full week of food available until the end of June. We still have time. We still have hope. All we need is the help.

If you can help, please contact Bang Ly at or through twitter @superbang and please check out our website for more info.

Fall In Ontario Is Time For The Three Sisters

The Three Sisters: Corn, beans, and squash.

The Three Sisters: Corn, beans, and squash.


Guest Post: By Kathyrn O’Brien.


Kathryn O’Brien returns to Farm To Fork to share a fantastic recipe steeped in history, tradition, and science – perfect for the harvest season, and just in time for those of us who have leftovers from Thanksgiving dinner.


From all of us here at Farm To Fork, we hope you have had a fantastic Thanksgiving weekend filled with family and friends.


Happy Thanksgiving.



One of the things I love about food and nutrition are the numerous examples like the one below.


According to Iroquois legend1, corn, bean and squash are sisters who cannot be separated. The legend states that corn needs the company and help of her sisters and must grow in community. So the three sisters were traditionally grown in the same mounds, with the corn acting as a bean pole for the beans to grow up and the squash grew around them.


What is fascinating to me is that this tradition not only creates a sustainable way of growing the three crops, but it also creates a cost effective nutritionally balanced meal, which is just plain cool.


So how does growing the three sisters together create a sustainable system? First of all as we said above the corn acts as a bean pole for the beans to grow up. By the beans growing up the corn stalk the beans strengthen the corn stalk making it less likely to blow over in bad weather and be ruined. The bean plant is also a well know nitrogen fixer – which means it will provide a more fertile soil for both the corn and the squash in the next year’s crop. The squash acts as a way to “squash” out weeds from over taking the corn and bean plants, slows down the evaporation rate of the water in the soil, prevents animals from eating the corn and beans and also provides a great source of mulch for the next year’s crop.


How do the three sisters compliment themselves nutritionally? Well corn is a carbohydrate so provides you with energy. Beans are high in protein and when combined with corn, actually form a complete protein. Squash rounds out the meal by providing plenty of vitamins and minerals as well as a good quality source of fat if the seeds are roasted and eaten.


It’s just fascinating to me when science can support centuries of tradition. So enjoy the below recipe this fall and help celebrate the three sisters!



Three Sister Stew


  • 1 can beans well rinsed (black, pinto, or kidney all work well) 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2-3 cups winter squash (butternut or acorn work well), peeled and chopped 14oz. can of diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 -1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 cups fresh or frozen corn


Optional garnishes: roasted pumpkin seeds or cheese.


In a large pot, heat olive oil, oregano, cumin, and cinnamon for about 20 seconds. Add the garlic, onion, and salt, and sauté until onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add squash, tomatoes and chili powder and cook until squash is soft, about 20 minutes. Add a little water if the mixture is dry. Add beans and corn. Simmer until corn is tender. Adjust seasoning to your taste. Serve hot with roasted pumpkin seeds or cheese garnish if desired.



1 Click here for more information about the Three Sister Legend.

A More Sustainable Food System

Institute for Community Engaged Scholarship

Institute for Community Engaged Scholarship

Guest Post: By Dr. Erin Nelson

Today’s blog post is written by Dr. Erin Nelson. Erin has a PhD in Rural Studies from the University of Guelph, and has worked extensively on issues of food security and rural development in Canada and Latin America. Currently, Erin is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Guelph’s Institute for Community Engaged Scholarship/Research Shop, coordinating its sustainable food system work.

It can sometimes be challenging for a university and its surrounding community to feel connected to each other. The University of Guelph’s Research Shop meets that challenge head on, bringing campus and community together to do research that contributes to positive social change. Research Shop projects cover a wide range of topics related to poverty, social justice, the environment, community health & well-being, and sustainable food systems. Specific research questions are developed in conversation with community partners (such as the Guelph & Wellington Task Force for Poverty Elimination, Transition Guelph, the Wellington-Guelph Drug Strategy, and the Guelph-Wellington Food Round Table), and projects are carried out collaboratively by graduate student interns (who come from many departments across campus and volunteer for 5 hours/week), Research Shop staff, and partner organizations.

For the past three years, one of the Research Shop’s most active partnerships has been dedicated to the issue of community food security. Working with the Food Round Table’s Food Access Working Group, the Poverty Task Force, and those coalitions’ member agencies, the Research Shop has published reports on emergency food service provision in Guelph-Wellington, eligibility requirements for emergency food access, and service users’ experiences and opinions. Research results have helped clarify some of the food security challenges facing the Guelph-Wellington community, as well as some possible solutions. In particular, results have highlighted the growing momentum for a holistic, social justice-oriented approach to community food security that would include the development of a community food hub.

In the midst of this process of community-based research on food security in Guelph-Wellington, Dr. Dan Gillis and Danny Williamson approached the Research Shop for some advice. They were interested in doing a project that could use Dan’s position as a Computer Science professor and Danny’s marketing expertise to help address a community problem. The trouble was, they weren’t exactly sure what community problems most needed addressing. After a very lively brainstorming session about community priorities with Research Shop Director Linda Hawkins and staff, it was decided that focusing on food security would be a good fit. Specifically, Dan and Danny seemed well-positioned to help tackle one of the shortcomings plaguing local emergency food services – a chronic lack of fresh food in food banks and pantries. The lack of fresh food availability had been identified as an important gap in service by research with emergency food providers. One possible means of reducing that gap had been explored by another Research Shop project, which was done in collaboration with FarmStart and assessed models for increasing connections between farmers and food banks.

Taking that information as a starting point, Dan and Danny decided to focus their efforts on the question of how to get more fresh food to community members who need it by facilitating communication between food growers and emergency food providers. The Research Shop set up a meeting to connect Dan and Danny to the Food Access and Distribution Working Groups of the Guelph-Wellington Food Round Table, who were both eager to play an advisory role on the project. And Farm To Fork was born! In those early days, it would have been almost impossible to predict how much enthusiasm the project would generate. Today, Research Shop staff, students, and community partners who have been involved in food security work in Guelph-Wellington are eagerly anticipating Farm To Fork’s official launch this coming fall, and looking forward to seeing the changes it might bring to the community!

Say It With Peaches

Mmmmm, peaches. Image via Wikipedia.


Guest Post: By Kathyrn O’Brien.


Kathryn O’Brien declares August to be Peach Month at Farm To Fork, and we couldn’t be happier. Peaches are delicious and good for you. And they also make amazing pies, and crisps, and jams, and muffins (among many other things). So be sure to check out your local market for fresh-from-the-tree peaches.


Oh, and if you happen to make a pie and you want someone to test it out, feel free to let us know. We’re here to help.


Thanks again Kathryn for your post, and for the great salsa recipe.



Peach Questions Peach Answers
My Family I’m in the same family as the cherry, and plum. I’m actually the same species as the nectarine – a non-identical twin, as the nectarine is really just an non-fuzzy peach.
How To Keep Me Happy Keep me on the countertop for 1-3 days or until I’m ripe, soft to the touch, then move me into the fridge for 3-5 days. I can be frozen for 10-12 months, but my colour may darken. I’m great for canning or making into jam.
When I Grow1 July to September
I’m Full Of… Vitamin A and B Vitamins
What Does That Mean For you? I’ll help your eyes work properly. I’ll help your immune system to keep you from getting sick. And I’m a great source of energy.
What Can You Do With Me? Try me: as is, eaten raw, or as part of a fruit salad. I’m also great in desserts such as crisps, muffins, or cake. I make terrific jams, and am a fantastic addition to salsa.
What You Might Not Know About Me? Most people think that I originated in Persia (I’m actually known around the world as the Persian apple), but new evidence is showing that I actually came from China. Or course, in North America you can’t think of peaches without thinking of Georgia, but I’m also popular in California and South Carolina, British Columbia, and Ontario. In China the peach represents longevity and good luck. The saying “you’re a peach” comes from the tradition of giving someone you like a peach.


Peach Salsa:


  • 4 small peaches, peeled and diced
  • Juice of 2 limes (approximately 1/4 cup juice)
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons diced red bell pepper
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced jalapeño pepper, or to taste
  • 1 heaping tablespoon chopped cilantro
  • 1 small clove garlic, finely minced
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion or sweet onion


Combine ingredients and serve with grilled chicken, fish, or pork.


For more information about Peaches, check out Foodland Ontario,, and



1 In Ontario.