Farm Fractionz is a project designed to help contribute to the growing number of initiatives across the city of Toronto working to address questions of food insecurity.
The COVID crisis worldwide has impacted every aspect of life, with the related spheres of horticulture and agriculture not immune to these impacts. Not only has the pandemic turned many of us toward gardening pursuits as a form of mental and physical health at a micro-scale, for example, but at a much broader macro-scale we’ve also witnessed the fragility of an industrial system of growing and distributing food. Indeed, many across the city are practising the former as a form of care to help address the latter.
Farm Fractionz is intended as a small contribution towards imagining new potentials in this domain. While access to land for growing vegetables can be prohibitive and inequitable, the logistics of aggregation and distribution can be challenging as well — after all, even if one wants to make a contribution of garden surplus to help with food security, it can feel very trivial to donate one extra tomato or a handful of beans on their own.
That said, the old chestnut of the dot-com boom was to “aggregate the long tail”, and the idea of the “fraction” here is to take a “crooked” approach to creating an urban farm: by assembling one in small pieces loosely joined together. Container gardening is distributed across East York, built into the logistics of the currently growing network of subscribers to the Crooked Farmz compost tea CSA subscription program, as well as the surplus compost from our operations here.
- volunteer subscribers let Crooked Farmz know how many and what size of container they would like to host (from small salad pots to large tomato planters).
- Crooked Farmz delivers containers with established seedlings growing inside and extra compost tea on each subscription visit.
- volunteer subscribers offer space and care to the plant throughout its period of growth.
- when the veggies are ready to be harvested, the produce is put out along with the empty CSA mason jars for pickup.
- the produce will be aggregated and distributed to a local East York community partner.
- at the end of the season the containers will be collected by Crooked Farmz for overwintering storage.
Though we continue to work out kinks in the process, the experience has been invaluable thus far, the generosity of the volunteers has been amazing, and feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. With our ‘small pieces, loosely joined together’ approach, we were fortunate to offer harvest contributions in 2021 to the Massey Centre for Women and Grant African Methodist Episcopal Church food bank. We look forward to scaling up the project in 2022!