subway ride away from the heart of downtown Toronto, step off the Line 1 platform at Pioneer Village Station and it’s an easy walk to Black Creek Community Farm (BCCF).
The eight-acre property includes pristine farmland, a heritage farmhouse and barn, and a surrounding forest that extends down into the Black Creek ravine. Enveloped by a U-shaped woodland and certified organic vegetable fields, it’s hard to remember that the farm is only steps away from Jane Street, one of the busiest arterial roads in the largest city in Canada. But for the volunteers, staff, and patrons of the BCCF, that’s the most important part.
Leticia Ama Deawuo is the director of BCCF, and she has lived in the Jane and Finch neighbourhood since her family’s move from Ghana to Toronto when Deawuo was 12 years old. Her life’s work is founded in the fight for food sovereignty and food justice against the systemic tide of classism, racism, and patriarchal oppression that threaten those communities most vulnerable to food apartheid. While BCCF caters to and teaches a diverse demographic of Toronto about the importance of sustainable, just food systems, and equitable access to healthy foods, Deawuo acknowledges and acts upon the root of BCCF’s mission every step of the way: to serve a community.
The community farm is precisely one that is welcoming an overdue opportunity to take back the reins in regards to how a community feeds themselves, their families, and their neighbours. “Black food security does not benefit from capitalism. Historically people bartered for seeds, fish, food. Communities were self-sustainable, but that's no longer true especially when we include the extraction practices in place around the globe,” Deawuo told Rabble in a 2002 interview. “Land, seeds, resources, and opportunity equal power. Black food sovereignty is power and that redistribution of power benefits everyone in society."
The BCCF’s website states that local, culturally diverse, and sustainable produce is available from June to November at accessible rates, as well as sliding scale pricing for a vegetable subscription program called Harvest Share. There are Western grocery store staples and East Asian, South Asian, African, and Caribbean varieties that may be harder to access at local organic markets. In 2019, the farm trialled Chinese yard long beans, bitter melon, scotch bonnet peppers, callaloo, Ghanaian ‘garden egg’ eggplants, and various choy sum, gai lan, and mini bok choy varieties. Currently they’re learning how to harvest dinosaur kale -- and they aren’t pulling the brakes anytime soon.
Black Creek Community Farm’s vision is to build an urban agricultural centre that engages, educates, and empowers diverse communities. As of May 2021 they have supported over 3000 families in Northwest Toronto, delivering 24,426 boxes of food (which is equivalent to 390, 816 lbs of fresh produce!). There is no doubt that by serving the neighbourhood and enriching and inspiring the next generation they will thrive.