Voices from the Food Frontlines

Voices from the Food Frontlines brings listeners stories of resiliency, grassroots actions, and sustainable transitions, from field-to-table. A podcast series and public scholarship project produced by the Feeding City Lab at the University of Toronto, episodes feature community-engaged research and conversations with local food stakeholders in Toronto and in cities around the world. Focusing on how people come together to overcome food system crises, Voices from the Food Frontlines highlights experiences, innovations, aspirations, and actions towards socially and ecologically resilient foodways – in urban growing spaces and market gardens, at public markets and small food enterprises, through community kitchens and emergency food supports, and across the rural-urban networks that support regenerative farming and farmer livelihoods beyond city limits. https://www.utsc.utoronto.ca/projects/feedingcity/

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Monday Jun 19, 2023

What is a community market garden, and what role could it play in a city’s food system? In this episode, Sam Payne describes how he helped launch MUD – short for Manchester Urban Diggers – as a non-profit social enterprise in the months before the Covid-19 pandemic hit. By sowing seeds and bringing people together around an overgrown, disused one-acre space, MUD snowballed into a community-wide undertaking to support food sovereignty in greater Manchester, U.K. Hundreds of people move through the MUD plot each week, volunteering in the gardens and participating in cooking workshops, gardening clubs, pottery classes, and more. This is a story of uniting a community over food through collective acts of educating, inspiring, creating, and feeding during the Covid-19 pandemic. Join the conversation as Sam paints a picture of a community-based alternative to the corporate supermarket. This episode with Feeding City Lab was recorded on March 22, 2023. 

Thursday Jun 15, 2023

In this episode, Feeding City Lab's Noah Allison hosts Mohamed Attia of New York City’s Street Vendors Project (SVP) in a discussion on the resiliencies of the street vending industry. Mohamed recounts how he came to join SVP – first as a member when, as a newcomer from Egypt he sold food on the streets of midtown and the Upper East Side, and then as leader of the organization in 2019. By amplifying the voices of street vendors, organizing campaigns, and connecting vendors with small business training, housing resources, and legal services, SVP supports the work of its more than 2800 members and 20 000 vendors on New York City’s streets and sidewalks, the vast majority of whom are immigrants. The conversation offers insight into the economic, social, and cultural contributions of vendors to their local communities. Mohamed shares the challenges and successes of formalizing small food businesses: he explains how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted street vendors, bringing closures but also seeding new businesses; he recounts the 2021 local legislative victory of the “Lift the Caps” campaign to significantly boost the number of vending permits over the next decade, and he sheds light on future goals to reform the street vending industry in New York City. This interview with Feeding City Lab was recorded on January 31, 2023.

Wednesday Jun 14, 2023

In this episode, Feeding City Lab talks with a former market manager about what it takes to build up a farmers’ market in Toronto. Recalling his past experience running the Underpass Park farmers’ market and the Junction farmers’ market in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mike Lawler offers listeners a peek into two different open-air markets: one that had only recently opened within a new planned community in downtown Toronto, and another that was long established in the city’s west end. Mike shares some of the challenges, pandemic pivots, and successes that he encountered as he discusses the important role that farmers’ markets and small-scale producers play in Toronto’s food systems. The conversation centres the role of the marketplace in community-building, addressing topics that include access and representation, technology and online ordering, and food policy and urban planning. Now a food scholar and PhD candidate at the University of Toronto, Mike reflects on what he thinks needs to happen in Toronto, and beyond, for farmers’ markets to flourish within a commodity food system. This interview with Feeding City Lab was recorded on March 22, 2023. 

Thursday Jun 08, 2023

In this episode, Marina Queirolo of Market City TO reveals the ways in which public markets can facilitate short supply chains within a regional food system, support small and medium retail businesses, and build community. Connecting production and processing with consumption and access, Marina illuminates how a market city can put into action a food distribution system that includes a diversity of seeds, crops, foods, peoples, and cultures. Through a networked approach, a market city model of public food infrastructure bridges neighbourhoods, cities, and regions. Listeners will hear about the many different types of public markets across Toronto, and their benefits; they will gain insight into some of the biggest challenges that public markets faced during the Covid-19 pandemic; and they will learn how markets help bring resiliency to food systems and what more is needed to help markets flourish. The Feeding City Lab produced this podcast episode from Marina Queirolo’s plenary talk (“Market Cities: Building the ‘Missing Middle’ in Sustainable Food Systems”), delivered on December 9, 2022, at the Sustainable Food and Farming Futures Symposium at the University of Toronto Scarborough. 

Thursday Jun 01, 2023

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. 

Monday May 29, 2023

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. 

Thursday May 18, 2023

Introducing a new public scholarship podcast series from the Feeding City Lab at the University of Toronto Scarborough. 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. This educational podcast series, developed over 2022-2023 and coming to you from the Feeding City Lab at the University of Toronto Scarborough, features the voices of people active on the pandemic food frontlines, describing their experiences and practices for sustainable food futures. https://www.utsc.utoronto.ca/projects/feedingcity/food-frontline-voices/


A podcast series created by the Feeding City Lab at the University of Toronto Scarborough.

To learn more about the series and its creators, visit us at:


Voices from the Food Frontlines, Pandemic & Beyond  |  Episodes 1-12

Voices from the Food Frontlines, Sustainable FoodwaysEpisodes 13-onwards


Sound Credits

Changing Seasons by Ketsa, licensed with permission from the Independent Music Licensing Collective (https://imlcollective.uk/). Wounds by Ketsa, licensed with permission from the Independent Music Licensing Collective (https://imlcollective.uk/).  

Sound effects for episodes 1-8 created by Feeding City Lab.  Sound effects for latter episodes (i.e. episode 9 and up) sourced from Zapslat (https://www.zapsplat.com)  


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