On September 28, the Friends of Allan Gardens (FOAG) hosted its first Urban Harvest Festival in one of Toronto’s most historic parks. Three hundred people joined us to celebrate autumn amid the colouring trees and early-20th century greenhouses of Allan Gardens.
With the generous support of TD Bank, FOAG collaborated with Food Forward, a food advocacy organization located in the Allan Gardens neighbourhood, to plan the day. Building Roots, an offshoot of Food Forward, brought together a number of urban agriculture groups to share their work with festivalgoers. Lining the park’s paths, information tables offered demonstrations of composts for worms, kits for growing garlic, packets of basil and radishes seeds, and a range of information on guerilla gardening and urban farming.
CaterToronto organized a diverse and delicious menu of creative twists on ethnic delicacies. Local start-up caterers served fried pumpkin on skewers, Zimbabwean pies, and kimchi deviled eggs. Representatives of Not Far From The Tree hand-pressed apples on site to make hot cider.
Neighbourhood resident Joe Green, former Dean of Fine Arts at York University, organized an exciting lineup of performances and acted as master of ceremonies. The masterful Sidewalk Crusaders – a seven-piece busking band – wowed the crowd with their energetic interpretations of popular songs. A pair of experimental clowns from Ryerson added to the afternoon’s entertainment.
As one of the festival’s highlights, we had the honour of welcoming the legendary Sharon, Lois, and Bram (minus Bram, who was out of town, and plus Grant, the group’s long-time keyboardist). While the crowd snacked on delicious food and enjoyed the early autumn sunshine, they were captivated by Sharon and Lois’s harmonies. Children and parents alike danced and sang along with hits such as “Down On Grandpa’s Farm” and the timeless classic, “Skinnamarink.”
Friends of Allan Gardens was thrilled to engage with so many community members, and we are already planning future events for the park. If you would like to volunteer or share ideas, please contact Tatum at [email protected].
Visit our friends at Building Roots on Facebook to view more photos from the day.
Many thanks to the following organizations and caterers:
- Backyard Urban Farm Co.
- Cathy’s Crawly Composters
- Fresh City Farms
- Not Far From The Tree
- Pascal Jean – Guerrilla Urban Gardener/Advocate from Montreal
- Rye’s Home Grown and Carrot City
- Skyline Farms
- The Seed Library
- Animal Liberation Kitchen
- Chop Suzies Collective
- Cookie Martinez
- Kyopo Kitchens
- Mnandi Pies