Collaborative. Participatory Decision-making. Creating Shared Outcomes.
In 2021, Harvest Impact by 10C and Toward Common Ground gathered with community groups across Guelph-Wellington to explore a new and collaborative response to food insecurity, leveraging the unique strengths of each organization and breaking down the silos between services and communities.
As a result of the pandemic, over the previous year, our community had seen food security become more common, and more severe. In Wellington County, 9.8% of residents (1 in 10) reported living in a food insecure household, and in Guelph, 13.8% of residents (1 in 7) reported the same.
With $100,000 in funding from Our Food Future to support increased access to food, this incredible group of community leaders and organizations came together to participate in the Co-Lab Funding Process, and together, develop dynamic ideas that best serve the individuals and families with whom they work.
Rather than each group applying for a particular amount of funding, as they would in a standard granting process, groups indicated their intentions to participate. Through a collaborative, open process, they co-created 7 innovative solutions. These ranged from expanding community markets that sell fresh food on a sliding price scale, to making farmland and commercial kitchen space accessible and available to support local food initiatives. The process emphasized the importance of working together, prioritizing creative and practical new ideas, and the incredible potential of shared action and collective impact.
“The Co-Lab process helped these groups lead with empathy and their lived experience, share knowledge and strengthen each other’s ideas by working together to tackle problems facing our communities. It was an inclusive and highly effective approach to make the most of available funding.”
Julia Grady, Executive Director, 10C and a co-leader of the Co-Lab initiative
- Improve systems that enable access to affordable food
- Look at new ways to ensure that people who need emergency food get what they need when they need it.
- Build trust within a highly collaborative process.
- Participate in open-empathetic project design process.
- Explore participatory budgeting.
- Work in community to identify challenges and assets (gaps and gifts).
- Arrive at intersecting solution ideas that can support further collaborative work developing in the future.
The work moving forward involves:
- Sustain and Grow Community Markets, to meet ever-increasing demand and sustain free access to fresh produce at the North End Harvest Market and the Silvercreek Market and embed a leadership training opportunity to gather people with lived experience of poverty to grow their leadership in community food access.
- Two Rivers Neighbourhood Group to add an additional community-based market that sells affordable year-round fresh local food.
- Hub and Spoke Collaborative Pilot Project to test the idea of shifting Guelph Food Bank away from their current model (direct to client food support and member agency excess distribution program) to a hub and spoke model where GFB will be a distribution hub for smaller neighbourhood-based food pantries and cupboards.
- Anishinaabeg Ways of Living, Being and Doing project to bring together people from First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities and allies to learn from and with each other and share time together in Anishinaabeg Ways of Living, Being and Doing. This Indigenous-led initiative weaves through every Co-Lab challenge project, informing and supporting all the others.
- HOPE House – Holding Spaces and Place project to offer arable land, space and food infrastructure (e.g., kitchen space) to support other project ideas to emerge. This project chose not to receive funding, but rather offered gifts to be shared across the other projects.
- Cultural Meals Social Enterprise project to create opportunities for immigrant women to make meal kits and cook meals from different cultures to be made available for sale.
- Parkwood Gardens Curated Meals project to engage in a partnership with HOPE House to produce weekly ready-made free meals for families.