Healthy Food Grown for Jane-Finch by Jane-Finch

By Yasmin Parodi

The produce we buy at the grocery store may be marketed as “fresh,” but it can never compare to the socially, and environmentally beneficial veggies that can be found near Jane St., and Steeles Ave., W.

The Black Creek Community Farm (BCCF) is the first full-scale urban organic vegetable farm in the neighbourhood. The farm sits on 7 acres of conservation land at Pioneer Village between Jane and Finch and York University.

The farm is a place for the community to come together and learn together.

The project is good for the land, and the people too.

That means healthy, accessible food, grown close to home for people of all income levels.

You can buy the organic produce from the farm at the Food Markets, or buy a share in the Summer Harvest and even work in exchange for your share of goods. Remember to inquire early as this is a popular option.

Healthy food shouldn’t just be for those who can afford to pay for it. That’s why FoodShare, Afri-Can Food Basket, and Fresh City Farms have teamed up with Everdale to bring farm fresh food closer to you.

Support the local farmers who take care of the land that takes care of you and stop by the Driftwood Good Food Market  from July to October at the Driftwood Community Centre (4401 Jane St., Wednesdays 3:00 p.m. – 7:00p.m.

If would like to become a Harvest Share Member, you can join the Summer Harvest Food Share – Jane/Finch by paying at the beginning of the season. You can pick up your share every Tuesday from June 3rd – October 28th at the farm located at 4929 Jane St. (just south of Jane and Steeles). Don’t forget to register online at

This “urban farm”is a place of learning and training where youth can reconnect with the story of their food and it will serve as an example to other cities. The BCCF is re-defining urban agriculture, and this is just the beginning.

Come visit the farm on Family Farm Day this summer. Details to come in the following Downsview Advocate issues.

Follow the Black Creek Community Farm on Facebook for photos, training opportunities, workshops, events and more.

This farm is supported and guided by a number of other key organizations:York Universitys Faculty of Environmental Studies, Ryerson Universitys Centre for Studies in Food Security, and the World Crops Project. The Toronto and Region Conservation Authority has made the land available and is supporting the development of the project.



Get Out of My Parking Spot!


 By Howard Moscoe

The accessible parking permit system in Ontario needs to be scrapped and re-engineered.

There are almost 600,000 disabled parking permits issued by the province of Ontario.  Many, if not most of them, are owned by people who do not deserve to hold them.  The fault lies squarely on the shoulders of the Province of Ontario and elected politicians who don’t have the guts make real changes to the criteria for issuing permits.

A handicapped parking permit is one of the most valuable permits you can own, not only because of the money that you save, but the privilege it conveys.  Those privileges include: the right to park in conveniently located reserved parking spots, the right to ignore most “No Parking” signs and (in Toronto) the right to free on street parking.

In the 70s, when the accessible parking permit system was being developed, I represented the Association of Municipalities of Ontario on a stakeholder committee that was advising the government of the day on how to structure the accessible parking system.  Two members of that committee, John Feld who represented an association for people with disabilities, and I warned that the proposed system for obtaining a permit was fraught with potential for abuse.

To obtain a permit, all that you need is a letter from a physician.  Most physicians are advocates for their patients. Under these conditions, the letters would be too easy to obtain.  How many of you know someone who has a permit that they don’t deserve or is using a permit that belonged to a deceased relative?

Now, I have a disabled parking permit. I have a breathing disability and a leg muscle problem that requires me to wear a leg brace.  I drive my car using hand controls and I resent the fact that I have to circle a parking lot to find a distant parking space because some inconsiderate slob is occupying a handicapped spot that they don’t need or deserve.

What is the answer?  Raise the fines?  The present fine for abusing a disabled parking spot is more than $250.  Has it helped?   Better enforcement?  Perhaps, but it’s a tough regime to enforce because you actually have to catch someone with a permit they shouldn’t have and have then to prove that they shouldn’t have it.

In 1995 I was vice-chair of the Toronto Transit Commission. We ran the Wheel-Trans system.  Wheel-Trans provides door to door accessible transit for disabled riders.  It was costing us more than $28.00 for each one way trip (riders paid a TTC ticket).

The TTC was financially pressed to the wall.  Not only had funding been cut for Wheel-Trans, but we had come to realize that there was widespread abuse of our eligibility criteria.

The Wheel-Trans system had become a free taxi service for anyone who could get a letter from their doctor.

At the urging of our Disabled Advisory Committee we scrapped our Wheel-Trans permits, dumped the doctor’s letter, changed the eligibility criteria to “unable to ride a regular bus” and forced all of our permit holders to re-apply.

They had to attend in person and be interviewed by a panel that included a disabled person and a physiotherapist.  It was tough love, but it had to be done.  We had to reserve the Wheel-Trans rides for those who really needed them.

As a result, we dumped more than half of those who held permits, many of whom didn’t even bother to apply.

It was politically painful, but necessary to preserve the integrity of the system. That is what has to be done to ensure the disabled parking permit system is socially defensible and free of abuse.

The system has to be scrapped and re-booted.  Will politicians in Ontario have the guts to tell 300,000 citizens that they have to give up their permits?  I wouldn’t bet on it.

Good Grades Begin With a Healthy Meal

By Matias de Dovitiis
Kids need to eat properly to get the most out of school and a little food goes a long way.

It’s simple, but in many schools in Downsview, one small healthy meal is improving the education of many of our students.

It is a well documented fact that learning is harder on an empty stomach. For a number of reasons, it’s hard for some kids it’s to get a good meal on a regular basis before they leave for school.

Sometimes moms or dads are too busy working to make a proper breakfast.

Other times, teenagers, being teenagers run out the door before eating the food they have. In some situations, adults in the house are just not able to put together a proper meal for their children.

“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day,” said Zubeda Nanji, Executive Director for the Breakfast Club, “But our program is much more than just a meal. It builds community, it brings the students together, it gives parents the peace of mind to know that their children are in a safe, structured environment.”

That is where the Breakfast Club and programs like it come in and fill in the gap.

Very recently, I was able to work with the administrators at Shoreham Public School and the Breakfast Club to start a program there.

The program provides more than just a warm meal for the kids that need it. It also provides warm place and a little structure in the morning. It’s a good place to start your day. I know that when I was going to school eating properly was part of having a good day.

Most of our schools already have a snack program. This is good too. It provides the protein and energy boost students need to get through the day with the batteries fully charged. There is lots of science to back up the need for these types of programs.

Academic success was thought of before as something that was almost genetic. You were born smart or you weren’t. We know better now. The stress that hunger can create for a young growing mind over time can greatly reduce academic achievement. You need to be well to learn well.

Wellness means having a good mind. You can’t have a good mind on an empty stomach. You can’t have a good mind when you are sad or going through stress. Think of how hard it would be to fill out a crossword puzzle with a jumbo jet flying over your head constantly for hours. It maybe easy at first, but would get progressively harder as the hours rolled by.

That’s the type of pressure that a growing student faces when they are inhibited by stress over the academic year. Maybe a few students can do well under that scenario, but only due to great natural talent. Most kids need a more stable learning environment.

I’m glad this program is here. I’m hoping it stays and I’m hoping more programs like it are started. Our kids could use it. We would have better schools and many students in Downsview would have a better future.

Image is courtesy of Food Share

Image is courtesy of Food Share