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Stephen Ogden

What made your hero take action?
Stephen Ogden has been involved in the Site 41 fight for over 25 years – the longest time anyone has been involved in this long standing fight to shut down Site 41 and preserve clean water in the Simcoe County area and beyond.

What were some of the challenges they faced?
Stephen has faced personal lawsuits and government harassment over an extended period of time. Stephen has been stonewalled by local and provincial governments – and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment in receiving vital information to help determine the health and safety issues surrounding building a dump site at Site 41 and other existing dump sites in the Simcoe County area and beyond.

What did they achieve?
Site 41 has been successfully shut down, after a lot of community organizing and action.

What has happened since? How are they inspiring people today?
The issue now turns to existing dump sites in the Simcoe County area, and Stephen’s fight to see that they meet and exceed health and safety codes and that thy don’t leech contaminates into surrounding land areas, waterways, Georgian Bay, and Lake Simcoe. The ultimate goal is to shut down existing dump sites in the Simcoe County area and beyond, and find alternatives to dumping garbage in the ground.

We love community gardens. They’re a great place to grow food locally, to get outside, to meet your neighbours, to learn about where your food comes from, and to open up a dialogue about our communities and environment.

They seem to be sprouting up everywhere, which makes us excited (because we love food that can be eaten by taking only a few steps). And it’s thanks to a variety of organizations and initiatives that are helping seed the projects and get many initiatives off the ground. We might just have to get our own hands dirty soon!


There are loads of community gardens around our hometown of Toronto, but FoodCycles stood out for us because of its unique projects that turn food waste into quality compost, cutting air pollution by 22 tonnes per year. Their food cycle is an intricate closed loop: the farm grows fish, which are fed by the plants grown there, then the fish waste is used to feed the plants.

The garden also has a massive worm bank, which turns food scraps into rich, usable soil for theirs and other gardens throughout the city. They’ve also just put a CSA into place, and they continue to grow and expand their services. FoodCyles is helping create employable skills and hands on training, to create jobs, to teach, to offer exercise and therapy, and to inspire. And that’s all being done, right in the city of Toronto.

Hellman’s and Evergreen

Hellman’s is not the usual local food suspect, but they caught our attention when we were down at Fort York for the Conscious Food Festival. We were thrilled to see a sprawling garden there, which was organized by Evergreen, and funded by Hellman’s through their Eat Real, Eat Local campaign, which is working across Canada to encourage us to eat real, local food. The two organizations actually co-established the Hellmann’s Urban Gardens program back in 2008, when they began awarding garden plots to Canadians in major cities across the country. The Fort York garden is 38-plots big, connects to actual soldiers’ gardens from the early 1800s and puts this land back into agricultural production.

350.org Community Garden Challenge

We’re already planning our global warming office party on October 10, 2010 as part of 10/10/10, but 350.org has tons of other ideas on how we can help reduce our impact on climate change. 350.org is a worldwide campaign building solutions for the climate crisis, and one of our favourite suggestions is implementing more community gardens. You can be a part of the solution too on October 10, 2010 in your community, by taking the Community Garden Challenge. We took a peek at the Toronto Community Garden Network where the featured garden is the Parkview Community Garden, built in 2008 with the help of hundreds of volunteers. This is only one of hundreds in Toronto alone, but there are thousands of these projects across Canada and North America, like in Vancouver, Winnipeg, Edmonton, and more (even Northwest Territories!). Here’s an example of one community in Sonoma County, taking the challenge. Are you up for the challenge?

What is Community Supported Agriculture?

If you don’t have green thumbs sprouting from your hands, not to worry; eating locally is still possible. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a hot ticket item these days; Some of the GreenHeroes team members are a part of one (one actually works for a CSA!), and here’s why. We buy a share of a farming operation – this means we’re buying in to the benefits reaped from the farm, but also sharing the potential risks of a bad harvest. Every month, a box is dropped at our door, filled with fruits and veggies usually picked the day before. It seems silly to most of us that we ever bought fruits and veggies from as far away as China and Australia, what with such a lush countryside surrounding us overflowing with bounties of fresh food. Nothing beats the excitement of opening up the monthly CSA box to see what’s in season and what we’ll be cooking up next!

You can find a local CSA in your community here.

You can find local markets in your community here.

Learn what’s in season, now, but clicking here.

Got ideas for what our 10/10/10 party should look like? Where would you like to see the GreenHeroes partying on October 10, 2010? Leave a comment below!

GreenHeroes.tv is all about saving the planet, one story at a time. Do you have a great story to tell about how you’re helping to make the world a greener place? Enter the contest to nominate a friend or yourself – you could be Canada’s next GreenHero!

Watch and learn about our celebrity GreenHeroes

Read our blog to keep up-to-date on GreenHero Campaigns

Follow us on Twitter

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Earlier this year, a member of our GreenHeroes team, Aviva, visited the Vineland Research and Innovation Center in Vineland, Ontario to learn about an exciting new project planting ethno-cultural food crops in Ontario. The initiative excited us because it will provide culturally-specific foods to communities throughout Toronto.

One of the leading partners on the project is the Stop Community Food Center, whose manager of urban agriculture met with Aviva while exploring the fields of budding plants. Rhonda Teitel-Payne is a GreenHero, incredibly dedicated to her work, which doubtlessly contributes to the fact that the Stop is much more than a food bank.

The Stop is inspiring to us as a model for educating the community on healthy ways of eating and sustainable ways of growing food, offering tangible strategies for boosting local food in our communities. Rhonda sent us her thoughts about the work they’re doing to bring local food into the city and educate the community on sustaining their own local food system.

By Rhonda Teitel-Payne

I’m often asked how we can talk to people about the benefits of local, organic food given that The Stop’s mandate is to increase access to healthy food for people living in poverty.

Our programs debunk the notion that people living on low incomes are not interested in environmental issues such as organic production and food miles.

Aside from affirming that our community does care about good nutrition, fresh taste and chemical-free food, The Stop’s Urban Agriculture programs offer some tangible strategies for boosting the local food content in our communities. We coordinate community gardens where people can learn about using organic methods to grow food while increasing the amount of fresh, local produce available in our food programs. Workshops help the learning process, but working in the garden with other people and sharing in their knowledge is still the best way to build good gardening skills.

Knowing that there is nowhere near enough greenhouse space in the city to meet the demand for seedling production, The Stop built a 3,000 square foot greenhouse known as the Green Barn at St. Clair and Christie. The greenhouse keeps us growing organic produce year-round, and also allows us to start long-season seedlings such as tomatoes and peppers to share with community gardens across the city.

Our most recent project at the Green Barn is the Global Roots Garden, which demonstrates food grown by seven different cultural communities. This highlights the contributions of immigrant urban farmers to our city while demonstrating that some foods do not need to be imported from far away, with the resulting environmental impacts. We are increasing the amount of local land available for urban farming through our YIMBY (Yes In My Back Yard) project, which connects gardeners looking for room to grow with people with under-used yard space.

You can find out more about The Stop’s programs and how to get involved at www.TheStop.org. If you live in Toronto, let the city know you support local food initiatives. Check out Toronto Public Health’s latest take on how Toronto can strengthen our food system.

Don’t forget to leave a comment here on what you’re doing to eat locally and sustainably, and visit and comment on the Tasting Local Food campaign page!

GreenHeroes.tv is all about saving the planet, one story at a time. Do you have a great story to tell about how you’re helping to make the world a greener place? Enter the contest to nominate a friend or yourself – you could be Canada’s next GreenHero!

Watch and learn about our celebrity GreenHeroes
Read our blog to keep up-to-date on GreenHero Campaigns
Follow us on Twitter
Become our fan on Facebook

Eating locally isn’t the only way to change the way we think about food. We ventured out to the Conscious Food Festival on August 15, 2010 to learn about other ways of re-thinking our food and to meet some neat organizations from across Canada that are working to bring us good food for our bodies and our planet.

This is the first-ever Canadian collaborative event devoted specifically to the growing sustainable food movement. It was truly a feast for our mouths and minds, represented by dozens of breweries, wineries, restaurants and farmers – no complaints here!

The festival itself was consciously run, powered completely by bio-diesel, and served as a reminder that every thing we do, every thing we eat, and every change we make can help reduce our footprint on the planet.

We met some really interesting folks, like GreenHeroes Gabriella and Ivan from Chocosol, who rode an old, stationary bike in front of us to grind corn for tortillas, and stirred a huge pot of artisan chocolate to make us a delicious Mexican chocolate drink (that we’re still dreaming about weeks later).

Elaine Nicholson, Community Animator

Don’t forget to leave a comment here on what you’re doing to eat locally and sustainably, and visit and comment on the Tasting Local Food campaign page!

GreenHeroes.tv is all about saving the planet, one story at a time. Do you have a great story to tell about how you’re helping to make the world a greener place? Enter the contest to nominate a friend or yourself – you could be Canada’s next GreenHero!

Watch and learn about our celebrity GreenHeroes

Read our blog to keep up-to-date on GreenHero Campaigns

Follow us on Twitter

Become our fan on Facebook

Locavore (lo-ca-vore), n. – someone who eats food grown or produced locally.

Self-described locavore, and author of “Locavore: From Farmers’ Fields to Rooftop Gardens, How Canadians Are Changing the Way We Eat” book, Sarah Elton is a local food GreenHero. We contacted Sarah after hearing about her journey as a food journalist, which spans the Canadian landscape and profiles all kinds of up-and-coming local food heroes. Her story means a lot to us because she’s just like us; she’s a regular mom of two on the run (who admittedly doesn’t live to cook!), who completely transformed the way she looks at food after uncovering the origins of her daughter’s cookie (that would be China). Sarah took a moment to speak with our team from her home in Toronto. Read our exclusive interview with her below, and remember that all of us can make small changes in the way we eat for a healthier Earth.

Visit her website at: www.thelocavore.ca

Find her on Facebook and on Twitter

You can purchase a copy of The Locavore here

Take part in our Twitter contest for your chance to win a copy of The Locavore!

GreenHeroes: What motivated you to take part in the locavore movement?

Sarah: My interest began as a journalist. I call myself a food journalist. My daughter came home from a birthday party one day with a cookie, and it looked like a gingerbread cookie that had been baked in any bakery in my neighborhood. So I flipped it over, and there on the back in small letters it read: Made in China. So, I knew that my clothes are made in China, but there was something about learning about this piece of food, that had travelled so far, that really highlighted the environmental cost of our food system. I started investigating that, and that quickly led me to report on the burgeoning local food movement.

GreenHeroes: Are you a locavore to the max? Do you strictly follow the 100-mile diet?

Sarah: I don’t follow the 100-mile diet and I don’t think anybody needs to follow it. What I do try to do is eat in a way where I try to support sustainable and local. So I shop from local farmers when I can, especially now in the summer; I’m stocking up for the winter now. I buy local, small scale and organic. I buy from farmers who I know are working their soils, enriching their soils, and treating their animals well. I only buy sustainable and humanely raised livestock – organic sustainable chicken costs a lot more money than one I can get at the grocery store wrapped in cellophane, but we don’t need to have chicken every day. And I cook everything from scratch; that’s been another part of trying to eat more locally and sustainably. We don’t eat packaged and processed foods. So you save a lot of money when you aren’t buying a packaged lasagna that’s frozen. I can make that same lasagna with local organic ingredients and come out ahead. And definitely health-wise come out ahead.

GreenHeroes: What are some of the challenges you face with this lifestyle?

Sarah: It’s very hard today to find out about where your food comes from. If you want to buy something at the grocery store and you want to know where it’s from, things are mislabeled. Whenever I go to the grocery store, I’m always saying to managers “the sign says its from Canada, but if you read the sticker it says its from Mexico,” and they roll their eyes at me. It’s really important that people can trust what they read. So, we need better systems. We need to have independent certification of foods so that consumers don’t have to do all the work. The average person doesn’t have 3 hours a week tofigure out where their food comes from. So organizations like Local Food Plus are great because they act as this independentthird party.They’re certifying farmers as sustainable, they’re matching them with supermarkets and big buyers of food. When you go to the supermarket you can look for the LFP logo on food so that as a consumer you know you’re supporting a local andsustainable food system.

GreenHeroes: How are food trends shifting in Canadian cities? Can you give an example from your book that shows how regular folks are changing their ways?

Sarah: In my book, I travelled across the country, to small towns, and farming communities, as well as big cities. Each chapter is an example of one piece of what we need to do to have a sustainable food system in this country.

My favourite example of how regular folk changed things in their community was in an area in New Brunswick, north of Moncton, that used to be a farming community where they would grow Brussels sprouts for processing and freezing. The company that bought the Brussels sprouts could find them cheaper elsewhere, so they stopped buying Brussels sprouts from the farmers, so the farmers had no markets. They tried to sell to the supermarkets, but this didn’t work out because the supermarkets were buying from China and California. Farms were going out of business and struggling, and one day they said, “we gotta try something – why don’t we create a network of farm gate stalls?”

Every little farm created their own little stand, and the community loved it and people came and bought their food. So they created an ecological standard for their group, now called the Really Local Harvest Coop, and now the farmers had to follow certain ecological criteria. The opportunity arose for them to open a farmers’ market in Dieppe, next to huge big box stores. On the first day of the market, 10,000 people showed up, Now, 6,000 people come to market every Saturday. This was a radical change. Finally they’ve got control of their lives, they are farming and making money.

GreenHeroes: What about urban agriculture?

Sarah: Urban agriculture is really important. It’s an important part of the puzzle in figuring out how to feed the cities of the future. When we have these huge cities, we have this growing population, and we’re developing suburban homes on farmland for our growing population. The paradox is more and more people are living in the city, so we’re pushing the farms that we need to feed these people further and further away. We’ve been able to fix this problem by transporting food long distances. But now we know this long distance food system is not sustainable, so now we need to figure out how to fix this problem.

We need to feed everybody in these big cities. So we need to maintain peri-urban agriculture and then find ways to produce a little bit of food in the city. There’s a new report out of the Metcalf Foundation that says we can grow 10% of the fruits and vegetables we eat in Toronto in the city. That’s a lot of food! We need to transform the city into a producing part of the food chain, and that will ease its environmental impact. Right now we just suck resources. But if we had a composting and an urban agriculture program in Toronto, those rich nutrients would no longer be wasted. They would be put back into the food cycle.

GreenHeroes: Do you have critics? What do they say? How do you respond?

Sarah: There is a local food backlash. They will tell you that it’s more energy efficient to grow food in the industrial food system and ship it great distances, and they will also tell you that we need industrial food to feed the world.

The major hole in their argument is that it’s just not sustainable. You’re not factoring in the larger environmental costs. And the industrial food system is destroying the natural world, and if we destroy our soil, if we pollute our water with fertilizer, if we have cultivation practices that erode the soil, and monocultures that require pesticide applications and are susceptible to disease, we’re in big trouble. Industrial food cannot serve us into the future in an era of climate change. We have to change. Some say that local farmers use more resources, but local farmers who practice sustainable agriculture are not using more resources – they’re finding ways to produce food in ways that reduce their environmental burden.

GreenHeroes: How can others take action and start eating local? What advice do you have?

Sarah: The most important thing when you’re first starting is to focus on eating in the seasons. Don’t buy asparagus in the winter; buy it in the spring. Think about what you’re purchasing and where it comes from. Try to choose products from local farmers that are sustainably raised. It’s easier and easier to do because there are farmers’ markets all over the place, and CSA (community supported agriculture) where you can sign up and receive boxes of food throughout the year. The more support we give to our local farmers, the more room they have to experiment.

Don’t forget to leave a comment here on what you’re doing to eat locally and sustainably, and visit and comment on the Tasting Local Food campaign page.

How are you eating locally? What are some of the challenges and benefits you’ve experienced from changing the way you eat and think about food? Share your story here for your chance to win a prize in our contest!

GreenHeroes.tv is all about saving the planet, one story at a time. Do you have a great story to tell about how you’re helping to make the world a greener place? Enter the contest to nominate a friend or yourself – you could be Canada’s next GreenHero!

Watch and learn about our celebrity GreenHeroes

Read our blog to keep up-to-date on GreenHero Campaigns

Follow us on Twitter

Become our fan on Facebook