Introducing…

Growing Urban Farms with Homestead T.O. and Zawadi Farm, title image

We have exciting news for people who want to explore urban farming as a career!

We’ve teamed up with the amazing Zawadi Farm to grow urban farmers and activate growing spaces in Toronto by creating a clear, realistic and guided pathway for anyone looking to grow food as a career within the city. Together, our programs reduce many of the barriers to entry, including:

  • Access to land for growing
  • Hands-on training to grow food
  • Ability to sell your harvest
  • Freedom to grow your business to the right size and time commitment for you

Our five-year plan provides you with the fundamentals of growing food in an urban environment, and then gives you access to your own space along with increasing freedom and income while putting you on the path to having your own urban growing business in the city. 

This is the only program of its kind in Toronto, and we’re excited to help people build a career out of urban farming and activating more growing spaces in the city!


THE PLAN

This five-year plan provides participants with the learning, support, experience, and opportunity to build a food-growing business. 

Five year plan in diagram form

YEAR 1: Homestead T.O.’s Grow Veggies Program

Learn to grow food in an interactive, team-based gardening environment. We’ll cover the fundamentals on how plants grow, how soil and sunlight interact with plants, and how to plan a vegetable garden. Then the groups will use that knowledge to plan, plant, maintain and harvest a team garden plot in Downsview Park – and you get to take home a share of the harvest! This is a full-season (7-month) course where you’ll graduate with a strong baseline knowledge of planning, growing, harvesting and storing food, with the goal of enabling you to replicate this process in your own garden for years to come.

YEAR 2: Homestead T.O.’s Grow More Veggies Program

Our Grow More Veggies program enables Grow Veggies graduates to use the knowledge and experience they’ve gained to create their own garden plot right next to the Grow Veggies plots in Downsview Park. You’ll get your own 500 square feet of growing space, access to garden tools, water and soil amendments, and ongoing mentorship and workshops. With the Grow More Veggies program, you can practice growing a large amount of organic food on your own while still having access to all the support that you need from Homestead T.O. The harvest is entirely yours – whether to eat, donate and/or sell. 

YEAR 3: Work on a Zawadi Farm Plot

Once you’ve demonstrated that you can manage your own garden, you’ll take over a commercial growing space in the city through Zawadi Farm. To make things easier, you’ll be given an existing space, a pre-set garden plan designed for the space, and Zawadi Farm will sell all of the harvest so that you can focus on successfully growing food commercially in a backyard urban farm setting. 

YEAR 4: Manage Your Own Zawadi Farm Plot

Now that you have proven experience on an urban farm, you’ll be given your own space to create your own full-season urban farm. You’ll be responsible for the costs and, if desired, Zawadi Farm can purchase all of your crops so that you can primarily focus on growing food – or you can begin to market your own harvest if you’d like. 

This is where you’ll put all of your learnings to use – creating your own garden plan, planting, maintaining, harvesting and replanting it to maximize your harvest and your net income. You can grow all your favourite vegetables, with the caveat that you’ll now need to make sure that they’re profitable and marketable.

YEAR 5: Create Your Own Urban Farming Business

Finally, now that you’ve become a successful urban grower, you’ll get access to additional space, along with the option to continue growing and selling your harvest to Zawadi Farm, or you can join Zawadi’s urban farming cooperative to sell food direct-to-consumers together and share in the cooperative profits. You’re now a full-fledged professional urban farmer!


IN SUMMARY

We’re very excited about our partnership with Zawadi Farm as this 5-year plan enables our students to take their vegetable gardening hobby to the next level, if they wish! We’ve set up this plan to maximize your chance of setting up a successful urban farming business. As you grow your skills and experience at each step of the plan, you’ll be given increasing levels of independence along with access to regular support at all stages so that you’ll be able to learn on your own but will also be able to learn from others. You can grow your business to take full ownership of all planning, planting and marketing, or you can focus on whichever individual elements that you most enjoy. Our role is to help you to succeed!

Our overall goal is to activate as many people and as much land as possible towards growing food within the city and making Toronto a more sustainable place to live where everyone has access to food. Join us on our mission!

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