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The Stop At The Barns

May 12th, 2011 | By | Category: Written Word

The Stop At The Barns

Mon Mar 16, 2009
By Cheryl Smith

Photo by John Bonnar

Saturday morning market at The Barns is bustling. Under the protection of the Covered Street, there is action here no matter the weather. It is always a warm welcome. It is community at its best.

Brought to us by “The Stop” (Community Food Center), this market has many offerings.

You’re likely to see Joe Mihevic, totally approachable and comfortable in this environment. Or a local dance troupe in full costume performing to a camera. There are buskers serenading shoppers and artisans selling their homemade wares. There’s an aroma of breakfast being cooked on the stove. Fresh coffee is brewing and selling like hotcakes.

Soon there are more aromas from the stoves lighting up. There is food, ready to eat, throughout the market, and all made with the best ingredients. Three rows of venders, two on each side and one down the middle, share the wealth Saturday mornings. Local farmers with healthy and delicious organic food. They make money. We eat well. And it brings the community together.

May 24th, it all moves outside to the Green Barns sheltered garden.

The ice rink will be gone, but there’s a playground fully stocked and ready to go. As is the pet park. It can only get bigger and better. More variety. More food. More selection. More community.

The Green Barn moves beyond the market. In fact, it moves from field to table. It follows the agricultural circle: food to compost, planting, growing, harvesting, cooking, eating, and back to compost. In all aspects of its production The Stop’s Green Barn project involves community. Volunteers happily man their stations. There are cooking classes, educational classes for the kids, dinners, special occasion events (like dinner under a moonlit sky in the greenhouse), and a quaint café coming soon.

Imagine the laughter and learning in the season to come. Imagine the growing healthy bodies. The sights, sounds and feelings of belonging and accomplishment. The scene is vibrant and healthy.

What if we were to move this whole scene into the city’s thirteen priority neighborhoods? What if Regent Park had a farmers market with the same quality of food, the same sights, sounds and feelings of accomplishment and belonging? Or if Parkdale had a space for it’s poor, where they could grow their food, harvest it with each other, cook it together, and sit down and eat it together?

How would it impact those impoverished communities?

Is food a right?

Food as a right motivates The Stop to pursue its vision/mission:
To deliver good quality, healthy food to the individual in a way that maintains his/her dignity. That works in any neighborhood, just as it does in ours. That’s why The Stop has partnered with Afri-Can and FoodShare. Their mission is to start food projects like those of The Stop and the Green Barn in those 13 “priority communities”.

Davenport/Perth, our neighbor to the west, is home base to The Stop. It’s also home to many individuals with many different stories. Our neighbors. Forty percent of individuals using The Stop are the working poor and fifty percent are immigrants. Forty percent receive the minimal assistance of welfare,disability, or employment insurance. While not designated priority, this community is impoverished.

The 4500 lbs of food The Stop renders at their community garden and greenhouse goes back to the community it serves. Volunteers are drawn from the community. The faces are as varied
as their circumstances. They have some things but they don’t have others. No amenities. They have to travel for their groceries and they can’t afford them when they get there. A lot of them live in rooming houses, where cooking facilities are a luxury.

Do they have the right to healthy, accessible, affordable food? To grow, cook or eat good food? To build community? How could we benefit from their being able to?

At home, The Stop’s offerings are born. They provide hot, healthy meals in their drop-in and community dinners, healthy food in their food bank, cooking classes, prenatal care and education, community garden and opportunities for their volunteers to learn and contribute.

Your engagement with The Stop’s Green Barn is a valuable piece to the puzzle. We may be making “social” history in our city. It’s a wonderful example of a win-win situation. And it’s about time! The way our middleclass neighborhoods are disappearing and the welfare roles are growing, some of us might end up needing help to meet our basic needs. It would be a step forward if “food banks” were as all encompassing, nourishing, and supportive as The Stop Community Food Center.

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  1. Boy, that was written a long time ago and reveals the innocense of idealism and a hint of naitivete.

    Our communites need to be de-institutionalized
    May 2011

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