“Every season I do Growing in the Margins, I change the trajectory of people like me, who have been dispossessed by the food system.”
Cheyenne Sundance is a young Toronto resident passionate about urban farming. She believes that it can be a viable career, however, she also realizes that for many underprivileged communities, getting into urban agriculture just isn’t realistic.
She states that “there is so much systemic oppression in the food system.” Only those who are privileged enough to be able to carve out the time it takes to learn how to set up an efficient farm or take on unpaid internships in agricultural development are given all the advantages to successfully grow their own produce to sell at farmers’ markets.
Sundance wanted to see more people like her getting their hands dirty by growing their own food, so she decided to launch Growing in the Margins. In early 2019. She started this free 12-week mentorship program that trains low-income youth in the art of urban agriculture using a small plot behind a church in downtown Toronto. Shortly, the program had received so many applicants that she had to acquire more land.
Eventually, she was able to take over a greenhouse in the city’s north end to start Sundance Harvest, a year-round urban farm. Once the pandemic hit, Sundance launched another program called Liberating Lawns to address food insecurity within the city. Liberating Lawns matches Torontonians who want to grow food but lack the space with others who have gardens to spare.
Though Sundance is only 23, she has already had a lasting impact on the city. She says, “Every season I do Growing in the Margins, I change the trajectory of people like me, who have been dispossessed by the food system.”
Sundance hopes that the education participants receive will be a true “seed of a revolution” and that her efforts will continue to help underprivileged youth develop the skills necessary to stay involved in sustainable urban agriculture.