Toronto is getting an amazing flower farm with help from homes across the city
A new way to bring flowers to people across Toronto is coming this summer, and it could be in your own backyard.
Growing Tkaronto is an urban flower farm that wants to partner with homeowners and organizations to grow specialty cut flowers for wholesale and consumer markets, says founder Sylvia Cheng.
"So what we're really trying to do is to bring seasonal and local flowers into people's communities, and then also be able to employ queer BIPOC folks to actually train them in industry," Cheng tells blogTO.
The people or organizations who partner with Growing Tkaronto will lend their yard space, in a full sun area, and in return, they will get a beautifully tended garden and credit toward the purchase of flowers.
While the flowers will all eventually be harvested, Cheng plans to plant many dahlias, which are not harvested until they are about 80 per cent in bloom.
"So with dahlias, you're enjoying most of the blooms when it's on the stem in your field. And so it's going to look gorgeous. And even if things get harvested because of the amount that would be in a planted bed, you would have many blooms to enjoy."
Right now the business is a sole-proprietorship, but Cheng hopes to transition to a social enterprise. Cheng started preparing land for growing in 2020, then started to grow flowers last year but gave them away to friends and family to learn the practice of flower farming.
This year, she hopes to find more people to partner with to grow and sell flowers through farmer's markets, pop up events, and through the farm's website.
She plans to keep the business low emission, so is building a cargo bike to transport tools and flowers to properties. Currently, she is focusing on the High Park and Junction areas of the city but plans to expand in the future.
As a BIPOC queer person, Cheng says it is important to create opportunities for diversity in farming. She is part of BIPOC queer farming groups and knows it is hard for non-white people to access growing space.
"You just hear stories of people who have a really hard time actually finding land to grow on," she says.
She says her father grew up farming in a rural area of China and that she "lived and breathed" farming growing up.
She also approaches the endeavor with a decolonization lens, noting that we are "guests and stewards on sacred land. We are committed to regenerative and anti-oppression practices."
Right now she is looking for about five to six land partners and hopes to scale up in the future.
"I can grow flowers no problem. I can hire people to grow flowers. That will not be the issue," she says. "The issue is actually finding people to buy the flowers."
Cheng is looking for a farmer's market to sell at, but people will also be able to buy flowers on the farm's website this summer.
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