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According to Ayla Fenton, food systems manager at Loving Spoonful, when it began the focus was on salvaging food from restaurants and grocery stores in order to assist those facing a lack of food in their lives.
During the past year, partly due to the recent pandemic and the need for cooperation among the city’s other agencies addressing the same issue of food insecurity Loving Spoonful, through a strategic planning process has reoriented their focus to “food sovereignty."
“Food sovereignty,” Fenton said, “Puts the focus on local food building and the right of a community to control and define their own culturally appropriate and ecologically sound food system.”
Its goal is to increase food growing in the Kingston area.
The plan has eight main components:
  • The small space garden kits
  • The Grow a Row community shared gardening program
  • A Gleaning program
  • The Local Food Market Stands Project
  • The Operation of two Community Harvest Markets
  • The Outdoor kitchen initiative
  • The Training Farm program
  • The Growers Schools Project

Small Space Garden Kits

This project, encourages people with very small spaces such as condo or apartment balconies to grow a small garden in a canvas bag. Begun in 2021 with a grant from the Rotary Club of Kingston, volunteers are supplied with the bags, soil, some seeds such a lettuce, kale, and beans, and a single tomato seedling plus instructions.  Last summer  150 kits were distributed with 35 of them going to Indigenous communities including a second kit with sage and tobacco seeds.
Loving Spoonful used recommendations from other agencies in the city to make referrals such as Kingston Community Health Centre, the Indigenous Languages Nest and Rideau Heights Seniors’ Organization asking them for ideal candidates to receive a kit.

The Grow a Row Program

This program encourages more home owners to grow a garden of whatever size on their property.. Loving Spoonful does this by working with active vegetable farms who grow their own seedlings to share their surplus seedlings so that Loving Spoonful can distribute them to those starting a home garden at no cost. In turn the gardeners share their surplus with the community dropping it off at Loving Spoonful determined locations.

The Gleaning Program

The gleaning program is where Loving Spoonful collect surplus food from local farmers. One example is volunteers who visit the farmers markets on Saturdays and Sundays at the end of their day and collect any ,leftover foods not sold. Another example is the collection of apples rendered unsaleable by hail such as happened this fall at Waddells Apple Orchard. Loving Spoonful organized volunteer pickers and over 10,000 lbs of apples were salvaged for use.

Local Food Market Stands (LFMS)

This program offers local produce at no cost, we no questions asked. You just take what you want. Stands are found is such service agency locations as Ontario Works, Kingston East Community Centre, KEYS Employment and newcomer services offices and the Kingston Community Health Centre on Weller St. 

Community Harvest Markets

This program started by the Kingston Community Health Centre and has been taken over by Loving Spoonful. The program has three sites across the city where Loving Spoonful grows fruits and vegetables which are distributed through affordable access markets one in Rideau Heights on Tuesdays from 3-5 pm and the other in Calvin Park Library on Thursdays from 3-5pm.  Anybody can access the food and has the choice of what they pay from zero to $5.00 for those you can afford it.
Fenton showed before and after pictures of the Calvin Park Urban garden. The gardens also provide opportunities to teach locals citizens how to grow vegetables and provides opportunities to volunteer to help with the gardens.

The Community Kitchens program

Food from the urban gardens also goes into the Community Kitchens initiative. The is a covid innovation. Since they could not have people come into centres for food Loving Spoonful took the kitchens outdoors using propane burns to cook the products.
In 2021 the Kinsman Club of Kingston purchased a trailer for Loving Spoonful with a barbeque, propane burners and tables and chairs to hall anywhere were a workshop session is needed.

The Training Farm Program

Working with the City of Kingston, St. Lawrence College, and Corrections Canada Loving Spoonful was able to access two acres at the Collins Bay prison farm (near the Lakeside Community Garden). With this land they are creating a market garden training programs such as “on-farm training skills” for 30 participants, offer farm tours and workshops and webinars. The 30 trainees will have jobs on farms come next spring.
Everything produces on the farm went into the Kingston Local food access plan.

The Grow Project for schools

Historically, this project actually taught children at 21 Kingston area schools to grow vegetables. However, with COVID this program came to an end.
This year the program was resurrected under a new format where local school children were taken to the community harvest and training gardens on field trip experiences.
To follow Loving Spoonful's many projects you can follow their exploits at their Facebook page called Gardens for Good or GFG at  Loving Spoonful | Facebook

Listen and view Ayla Fenton's talk on the projects in which Loving Spoonful is involved

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