Riverdale Farm

I grew up in Toronto, not quite downtown, but definitely an urban area.  Finding out about where food came from would have been difficult if not for the efforts of my parents (my grandmother lived on a farm) and school trips to apple orchards, a sugar bush (which I’m pretty sure was also the apple orchard) and to Riverdale Farm.  Riverdale Farm is a brilliant idea – a working farm in the middle of a very urban part of Toronto – it’s just off the subway line and allows schools to really show kids where eggs come from and how we get milk.  The experiential educator in me loves it – kids really understand things when they can see them, feel them and smell them.

That’s why I felt horror when I read today that the City of Toronto is thinking about closing the farm.  This is one of those things that will save money in the short term but, like the closing of outdoor schools in Ontario during the 90s, will have far reaching consequences.  Those closings have left a generation of students without an easy route to learning about nature .If this farm closes, kids who have grown up in downtown Toronto won’t care where their food comes from (or will even know).  They won’t think to check if the tomatoes that they are buying were grown locally (and taste good) or came from Florida and might have been grown with slave labour.  They won’t care about the demise of the family farm and the rise of factory farming.

We should be opening more of these food education centres in the world, not closing the few that we have.  We should be encouraging kids in Toronto to help grown gardens and collect eggs so that they know what goes into the food they eat.  We should be following the example of Jamie Oliver and using the food grown to teach healthy eating habits.  These are special places that need to be saved!

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