Commercial Foodscapes and Social Permaculture in Big Cities

Can commercial foodscapes be community oriented? After years of quiet work, PINA’s newest Board Member, Jane Hayes, and her team have been making headlines with two projects at prominent Toronto intersections proving just that. The edible landscapes, at St. Clair/Avenue Rd. and Bloor St/Avenue Rd. respectively, are set in a sea of concrete towers owned by some of the city’s wealthiest “landowners.”

Through the pandemic, as businesses shut down, building residents and many others came out to connect and express their joy at stumbling across food gardens in the heart of Canada’s largest city. They often took home some kale too. The remaining food went by bicycle to community fridges and local food distribution centres. 

There’s still much to learn about growing edible / pollinator or foodscape gardens that enhance buildings, main streets, and neighbourhoods, and also help communities thrive. Jane’s team is resolved to grow gardens that can demonstrate solutions and also stimulate deeper conversations, create and share well paid and meaningful work, and explore what community food production can look like on the ground and on rooftops in cities. 

There is a great need for accessible, just, and resilient food systems during these uncertain times, as we face the ongoing climate “emergency,” massive biodiversity loss, and widespread economic disparity due to historic and ongoing racist and oppressive structures. 

Jane and PINA invite folks with privileged access to resources or power, to consider funding and contributing towards the community food sector. If you would like to help fund projects, please contact us. We’d also love to hear your stories about social permaculture in cities, so we can grow this important edge. 

Jane joined the PINA board last year to bring social permaculture and a Canadian edge to our work together. See recent news here and Jane’s work here: