Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, local food producers, grassroots networks, independent food businesses and social enterprises, and other food frontline actors fed their communities in the face of increased food insecurity, supply chain blockages, and widening social inequities. Research shows the urgent need for knowledge dissemination on local food stakeholders — food security advocates, community gardens, independent grocery stores, farmers, street and market vendors – who have developed and enacted innovative solutions against considerable logistical and social challenges. Over 2022-2023, this SSHRC Connection project is establishing a web-based archive for outreach and holding participatory training and knowledge-sharing events.

The online platform features the voices of people active on the pandemic food frontlines, describing their experiences and practices for sustainable food futures. Over 2022-23, the Feeding City lab is producing a multi-episode podcast series dedicated to featuring new interviews. Episodes will be publicly available on this Feeding City lab webpage and on our Feeding City Youtube page. This initiative enhances prior collaborations to connect academic research and local food voices from Canada, the US, the UK, and the global South.

This project will also host workshops and multisensory experiential learning sessions, which will be preserved in the archive as curricular tools. These events will lead skill-building, showcase the new multi-media content and its connections to research, and teach participants how to use and interact with the archive to develop their own future iterations of voices from the food frontlines.

2022-23 FC Lab Podcast Production Team

Feeding City Lab PI:

Dr. Jo Sharma

Team Lead:

Dr. Jaclyn Rohel

Student RAs and Interns:

Adam Bishop

Bavan Pushpalingam

Daphne Berberyan

Jasleen Sohal
Rayah Flash

Shathvahi Ramesh

Serena Yuan



Episode 1 | An Urban Farm in Scarborough: Cultivating Food Access and Economic Opportunity in a Hydro Corridor 

Left: Claire Perttula. Right: Malvern Urban Farm. Image Credits: Claire Perttula

What role could an urban farm play in supporting food security in Scarborough? In this episode, Feeding City’s Serena Yuan speaks with Claire Perttula (Food Justice Projects Coordinator at the Malvern Family Resource Centre) about the Malvern Urban Farm, a two-acre plot nestled between four hydroelectric towers in northeast Scarborough. The farm got its start during the Covid-19 pandemic and is now going into its third growing season. Claire lets Serena in on the ins and outs of farming in the city. She describes how the farm evolved in an underused urban space to include market gardens, a donation plot, a 500 square foot pollinator garden and a solar-powered hoop house. The conversation highlights how the farm helps develop new economic opportunities for community farmers and brings fresh, culturally appropriate foods to Scarborough’s markets. The Malvern Urban Farm Farmers’ Market will return for its 2023 season this July. This interview with Feeding City Lab was recorded on December 18, 2022.


Episode 2 |  A Charity Kitchen Tackles Food Insecurity in Scarborough

Seema David, 5N2

In this episode, 5n2 founder Seema David talks with Jo Sharma of the Feeding City Lab about her organization’s efforts to reduce local hunger and food insecurity by rescuing food and distributing freshly prepared, warm meals to Scarborough residents in need. Seema offers insight into some of the inner workings of 5n2 during the COVID-19 pandemic, shares the challenges of commercial renting as a food non-profit in Toronto, and elaborates on how localized food networks and community partnerships sustain the work of organizations like 5n2. Listeners will also learn about what’s new for 5n2 nearly a decade after the charity first opened its doors – from a brand-new kitchen space to plans for a fresh vegetable program based on a social enterprise model of sharing food. This interview with the Feeding City Lab was recorded on November 8, 2022 as part of a live event in collaboration with the Great Explorations community engagement series at the University of Toronto Scarborough. In early 2023, 5N2 completed its long search for a new space and settled into its new home in Scarborough Centre.