|Bill Wilcox ( Hamilton Victory Garden) and Karen Burson (Eat Local at Environment Hamilton).|
Oct 17th, Wentworth Baptist Church.
People around the globe need to be concerned about food security for a variety of reasons. Some of those reasons are place-specific (arid climates), some are political (conflict usually disrupts the food supply) and some are economic (not everyone can afford access to food). The issues are global in scale too: climate change, peak oil, and peak phosphorous are areas of concern.
We cannot take the cheap food system that feeds so many of us for granted: not only does it leave us with a planet that is both "stuffed and starved", but the systems and conditions that we have assumed would always do the job is under threat, due to the depth and breadths of the challenges touched upon above.
Speakers Bill Wilcox (Hamilton Victory Gardens) and Karen Burson (Eat local at Environment Hamilton) shared food security stories from the global south.
Bill shared his experiences during an urban agriculture study tour to Havana, Cuba, the world’s
leader in urban agriculture.
Since 1993, the city of Belo Horizonte (Brazil) has received international prizes for its initiatives in reducing hunger and malnutrition, and has received the attention of academic studies and popular press throughout the world.
Karen discussed some of Belo Horizonte's best known and most influential food programs, and will explore what the success of these programs might suggest about the future of food security right here in Hamilton.
Bill Wilcox is a native Hamiltonian, who helped his Dad with market gardening at an early age. He enjoyed a long career in Purchasing Management, which included running his own Packaging Company for over 13 years. He is now semi-retired, and still has his passion for gardening—in fact, he has what his family lovingly refers to as a “Grow-Op” in his basement!!
In 2007, Bill organized and implemented the first Victory Garden in Hamilton, which was located on 4 acres of property behind a church on the mountain. After 4 years of managing that garden, he decided to bring the Victory Garden concept below the mountain into the areas of highest need. This year, Hamilton Victory Gardens has SIX locations around the city, and has plans for expansion in 2013.
In the 4 years that Bill managed the Victory Garden at the mountain church, a total of just over 40,000 pounds was harvested. In the 2 years of the Hamilton Victory Gardens being below the mountain, there has been a total of over 10,500 pounds to date--with another month of harvesting still to go in 2012
Jamaican-born Karen Burson earned a B.A. in Political Science from Carleton University and has worked extensively in food service and policy for many years. After deciding she hated IT work and then discovering her desire to work as a personal chef (she dabbled in that work during a long stay in rural southern England) Karen started her Eklectic Kitchen which offered catering and personal chef servcie. Her work at the Sky Dragon Community Development Cooperative earned an award from the Canada Organic Growers and she established a Slow Food Convivium in Hamilton in that same year. She now sits on the city’s Community Food Security Stakeholder Committee, works with Hamilton Partners in Nutrition and in February, and organized Hamilton’s first ever conference on food policy. That successful venture landed her a stint with Sustain Ontario: the Alliance for Healthy Food and Farming, where she assumed the role of lead organizer for their Bring Food Home sustainable food conference held at Trent University in Peterborough.
Currently, Karen is a project manager of “Hamilton Eat Local” for Environment Hamilton and has served in that role since 2008. More recently, she has become a popular presenter with her fun and frugal cooking demonstrations at the Hamilton Farmers’ Market Community Kitchen. Affordable food is very important to Karen. That’s why she co-founded the Hamilton Good Food Box Network which aims to make fruits and vegetables more accessible to people living on low incomes or living in “food deserts”, thereby making that food ever more widely available right across the city.