By Ryan Horne
Good food grows in Ontario, and more specifically, in Guelph.
This is the second summer of the Peri-Urban Farm – a project put together by three organizations to grow local, organic food in Guelph. A Guelph urban farming business called Backyard Bounty, Toronto’s Future Watch and the Salvation Army are all involved with managing the farm.
“Each organization takes part separately, but we get to share ideas with each other,” said Brad Melaugh from Backyard Bounty.
They partner on the costs of such resources as compost and straw.
Developers Mike Watt and Terry Ellery of Biltmore Homes own 45 acres of land behind the Salvation Army in Guelph and thought some of that land could be used for an organic farming project. The farm is 4.5 acres and is shared among the three organizations.
The farm grows tomatoes, beets, green peppers, lettuce and more. “We grow things that sell well,” said Melaugh.
Backyard Bounty sells its food to the Guelph and Aberfoyle farmers’ markets, as well as to local restaurants including Woolwich Arrow, Cornerstone, Magnolia Cafe, Bull Ring Cafe and With the Grain.
“The farm helps to decrease field costs, it increases food access for people and it’s fresher,” said the administrator of Backyard Bounty, Tom Armitage.
Future Watch sends its food back to Toronto to be sold at various markets in the Big Smoke.
The Salvation Army gives its food to the Guelph Food Bank.
Although the farm is thriving right now, the land will be used for residential housing in four or five years time, said Armitage. Armitage, who’s going into his last semester of organic agriculture at the University of Guelph, thinks the farm can be used as a stepping stone for people to grow their own organic food.
“I see urban farming as a way for people to get involved and create their own food,” he said.
“It develops a sense of community as you meet so many people.”