A Guelph neighbourhood believes there is a smarter way to share food, so they've organized a pilot project to prove it
The Junction Food Network is asking residents within the Junction neighbourhood just west of downtown Guelph to participate in these projects to grow community connections and an interest in food resilience.
One project involves the use of a locally-developed website called Seed Voyage, which helps people find local produce from nearby growers, to encourage residents to sell or purchase produce within their own neighbourhood. The second project is a community garden map, which the Junction Food Network is looking to create to highlight resources for others.
Allison Bell is a coordinator with the Junction Food Network. She said these projects were made possible by a grant called Seeding Our Food Future, which supports new or existing food-system businesses, non-for-profits or social enterprises.
"It's nothing really radical," said Bell about the projects, “It’s really connecting the resources and the people and the skills that are already within the Junction."
Although these projects are only being tested within the Junction neighbourhood, Bell said the Junction Food Network aims to spread these platforms across Guelph and Wellington County next year. Residents outside of the boundary lines of the Junction neighbourhood are still encouraged to sign up for Seed Voyage.
"By connecting people, you can facilliate food sharing a lot better." said Bell.
"The reason we're promoting it to the Junction is because we're in connection with the creator of the platform, it gives us an opportunity to collaborate with him and give feedback to him, before it's rolled out strongly in the rest of Guelph."
How Seed Voyage works is residents can sign up on the website as a ‘eater,’ ‘grower’ or both for this spring, to discover ultra-local food sources being cultivated within their neighbourhood. Once produce is purchased, the eater can pick up the item from the grower through contactless pickup.
Bell adds the website allows users to buy or sell these ultra-local foods for $5 a basket, or give them away for free depending on the growers objectives.
"You might not be interested in participating as a grower for an extra source of income." she said, "You might just be interested in sharing food with your community with people who might want it or need it."
As of right now, Seed Voyage only offers produce, but Bell said the Junction Food Network wants to expand their food-sharing network to include other foods, like honey and eggs.
"There are so many different products and resources in the Junction," said Bell, "But there are also people who have tools, horticultural knowledge and skills."
With the community garden map, the Junction Food Network wants to understand what residents currently grow within their gardens and what types of resources they would like access too.
"It's not something we're trying to implement without listening to people first and hearing how people would like to participate." Bell explains.
Bell also mentions there are two contests underway to promote both projects. Until Oct. 30, residents can be entered for a chance to win a $100 prize if they sign up for Seed Voyage and send a screenshot of their account to the Junction Food Network through email.
"It's just a little incentive to get people excited about signing up," said Bell, "Our goal is to have 40 sign up as eaters and growers... it's a soft goal, but I think it's definitely attainable for us."
By filling out the one minute survey, residents can also enter for a chance to win a $50 gift card to Miijida. To enter, residents must live within the Junction neighbourhood. For more information on how to access the survey, click here.
To learn more about the Junction Food Network, check out their Instagram page.