Located on the site of the historic Wychwood streetcar barns at Christie and St. Clair, The Stop’s Green Barn is a sustainable food production and education centre that houses a state-of-the-art greenhouse, food systems education programs, a sheltered garden, our Global Roots Garden, community bake oven and compost demonstration centre. Through the programs outlined below, we are inspire and support people to grow food in the city, and to build stronger, healthier and more connected communities.
The Stop Community Food Centre’s Yes In My Back Yard (YIMBY) program connects people who would like to garden but don’t have the space, to people who have space in their yards they are willing to share
The Stop acts as a connector, helping to set up garden sharing matches. We also offer a tool-lending library, free gardening workshops, free seedlings, a community seed exchange, and opportunities to meet and learn from other gardeners. YIMBY connects people to garden in the neighbourhoods around The Stop’s two locations, The Green Barn at Christie and St. Clair, and our centre at Davenport and Symington. This area extends roughly from Bloor St up to Rogers/Vaughan Rd and Bathurst over to Dundas W./Old Weston Rd.
The Stop’s Global Roots Garden is made up of seven 20 x 13-foot plots, each devoted to particular ethnic communities with large populations in Toronto—Chinese, South Asian, Somalian, Italian, Latin American, Polish and Filipino. Each plot rows a diverse range of vegetables and herbs, including okra, bitter melon, cardamom, chiles, eggplant and lemongrass. The gardens themselves are tended by thirty-one seniors and sixteen youth (mostly high school students), many of whom got involved in the project through our partnership with CultureLink, a newcomer settlement group in Southwest Toronto. They meet once a week to tend the gardens, socialize and cook food together.
Bringing together seniors, many of whom were food producers in their native countries, with youth who don’t necessarily have any experience growing food, makes the exchange of knowledge that happensin the gardens every week even more explicit. Many of the beds are raised, allowing seniors to work without straining their backs, and most of the gardens are wheelchair-accessible. The senior gardeners have also been involved in the “New Crop Animation Project,” a collaboration between The Stop and the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre in the Niagara Region. In this project, the Global Roots gardeners have been taste-testing and providing horticultural assistance to Greenbelt farmers who are also raising crops—like callaloo and the ever-popular bitter melon—that have not historically been grown in the province
For many years, The Stop has provided fun and engaging workshops for children in Davenport West area schools in an effort to involve youth, their teachers and the wider community in the political and environmental issues that relate to food production and consumption. With the launch of The Stop’s Green Barn in 2009, we increased capacity and outreach to schools in the St. Clair and Christie neighbourhood. The Stop assists participating schools by providing hands-on educational activities that focus on food issues while directly supporting the learning goals of the Ontario curriculum.
Grade 5 Program
The grade 5 program offers an in-depth look at food security, and a chance for kids to build on concepts throughout the school year. This program is comprised of five learning units, including:
• The Real Dirt on Food Systems
• The More We Get Together!
• Growing Back to our Roots
• Cooking Traditions
• Scraps to Snacks
Grade 3 Program Day
The grade 3 program day at The Stop’s Green Barn offers kids a chance to experience the barns while they learn concepts connected to the science curriculum. This visit runs in the mornings from April to June. Activities include:
• Tour of the barn
• Making a vermicompost bin
• Compost and worm biology games
• Planting and harvesting food crops
Elementary Class Tour
For all classes in elementary schools, we offer a one-hour educational visit to our community garden at Earlscourt Park from May to June. Children and teens get a chance to play and learn outside while digging, planting seeds and doing activities that reinforce school curriculum.
Food Leadership for Youth (FLY)
Food Leadership for Youth (FLY) is an after-school program open to high school students who want to learn how to cook and grow food while engaging in issues related to personal health, environmental sustainability and social justice. This is program runs once a week from October to May.
After School Program
The After School Program engages children aged 8 to 12 (grades 3 to 6) in fun, hands-on activities that teach skills necessary to grow, cook and select healthy food and encourage positive attitudes towards healthy eating. While cooking and growing activities are central to the program, children also participate in a range of other activities that support positive development, including arts, games, homework help and field trips.
Summer Food Camp (kids 8 to 12)
The Stop's summer food camp is a fun, active and engaging day camp for kids ages 8 to 12. Campers are encouraged to learn about cooking and growing food through fun and engaging activities held in The Stop's kitchen and gardens. By engaging in hands-on learning activities, campers increase their food skills and develop and openness to trying new foods. Registration is mandatory and spaces are limited. Priority will be given to low-income families. Upcoming summer food camp sessions: July 11 to 15 or July 25 to 29, 9:00 am to 4:00 pm
The Grad Program give kids who’ve participated in the After School Program an opportunity to maintain and advance the food skills they have developed with us. This program runs on Thursdays from 3:30 - 6 pm from September to June.
Shovel & Spoon
Working in partnership with other local agencies, this cooking, gardening, and nutritional program is designed to create connections with nature and reduce social isolation for marginalized individuals. In a therapeutic and supportive environment, this program offers hands-on opportunities for building new skills and knowledge, as well as leadership development.
Happy Meals is a series of free healthy cooking and nutrition workshops targeted towards lower-income adults. The group comes together twice a month to explore how to make healthy food choices, to learn cooking skills, to add new recipes to their repertoire, and to make and eat good food in good company. Topics are chosen based on participant interest, through outreach, and survey’s. Past topics have included: Indian cooking, holiday baking, soups & stews, and heart-healthy cooking.
Seniors Community Cooking
The Seniors Community Cooking group meets once a month to prepare healthy meals together in order to reduce social isolation. In the program, seniors learn and share their knowledge about nutrition and cooking. The group enjoys activities such as yoga, meditation, dancing, and an array of games, in addition to creating and enjoying a meal together while forming friendships with other seniors.