Toronto Urban Ag Practitioners Symposium Retreat

Toronto Urban Ag Practitioners Symposium

Sharing Experience, Finding Solutions

Location: Ultimate Solar Powered Natural Home, Hockley Valley
Date: Saturday, November 4, 2017, 10am-5pm

This one day symposium will bring together eco-entrepreneurs to share their experiences and work together to find solutions. The current business environment for food and food waste based eco-enterprises, trying to operate within the circular economy poses many challenges. This symposium retreat will bring together the founders from Wastenot Farms (Jocelyn Molyneux), Waterfarmers (Evan Bell), Better Current (John Wilson), and Waterwheel Farms (Alec Wheeler), and others to be added soon. The agenda for the day will provide a morning session for each entrepreneur to honestly and openly discuss the many challenges they face. In the afternoon, the group will work through a facilitated process to work on solutions for each of the main challenges discussed.

Everyday we see new entrants into the Toronto urban agriculture space envisioning big plans for creating a sustainable food system. Yet the landscape is littered with too many unsuccessful projects - opportunities that have come and gone, usually because they ran out of money. The scale and complexity of the challenge, along with the use of developing technologies, makes success difficult. Even the few "successful" star projects struggle with long-term economic viability and adherence to their core values.

Urban aquaponics/ hydroponics/ worm farming/ composting/ community gardening/ vertical farming/ beekeeping: Toronto could be fertile ground for developing and implementing urban agriculture solutions at scale, but without all stakeholders sharing knowledge and rowing in the same direction, mistakes of the past will continue to be repeated.

Many projects are struggling with the same questions: How can we build a model that is economically viable - not just a feel good project? What does success look like for urban agriculture projects? How can we ever achieve the scale necessary to make a lasting impact? How do we develop the new infrastructure required to achieve success?

We don't need another "Urban Agriculture 101 Workshop" - what we're hoping to do is bring experienced practitioners together to discuss advanced challenges and solutions; participants would be screened and will be required to have practical experience under their belt. We're not looking for a Policy conference (though certainly policy issue won't be off limits) and this isn't an opportunity for "blue sky thinking", this would be an opportunity to discuss practical, real-life challenges, coming together to discuss what we should have done yesterday and what we can do today and tomorrow to learn from our mistakes.

It's time we came together, as Toronto's practitioners of urban agriculture, to discuss our common challenges and chart a path forward; rising tides lift all boats, but only together can we create the force of tidal change. If this type of gathering would be beneficial to you, please respond to questions below by SEPTEMBER 21st by email to

  1. Name & Organization:
  2. Current Urban Agriculture Projects:
  3. Current Areas of Need/Challenges in Terms of Growing your Urban Ag Project:
  4. Areas of Expertise/Knowledge that You Would Like to Share with Other Urban Ag Practitioners:
  5. Names of People/Organizations that should be Invited to this Symposium (& email addresses):
  6. Would you be Wiling to Act as a Symposium Organizer?

DRAFT Agenda

  • Challenges
    Each participant leader presents their challenges in 45 minutes, with group questions/feedback for 15 minutes.
  • Solutions
    Each participant leader presents top 3 problems they'd like to solve, presents them in 5 minutes and the group uses two different activities to try to help find solutions to them.
  • Next Steps: Planning Toronto Symposium

Additional Information

Food and drinks will be provided. Please bring your own water bottle. If you have any other questions or suggestions please do get in touch.

Contact: John Wilson

Note: Event date is tentative until we confirm several attendees.