Food Action Group

Food Action Group

Meet the Food Action Group: 

We are a group of volunteers whose goal is to build food security by promoting the local food economy, and by supporting home food growing and permaculture practices. 

What We Do:

The TC+ Food Action Group gathered for the first time in the spring of 2013. Since then, we have organized and collaborated widely on a number of annual food-related events and projects. These include a winter Food Film Series, a March Seedy Saturday, and the Incredible Edible Plant Festival, our spring vegetable seedling giveaway and planting of community gardens, as well as an Open Food Garden Day in summer, and a World Food Day in October. We also offer occasional hands-on workshops and demos. All our Food Action Group projects promote sustainability throughout our community – more local food reduces our fossil fuel dependence and carbon footprint. 

What’s Happening Now:

Everyone is invited to join us at the Cornwall Public Library for our Winter Free Film Series. On February 11th, we will be screening “Inhabit: A Permaculture Perspective” at 1:30 pm. “Inhabit” explores the relationship between human habitation and asks us “… what if our footprints were beneficial? What if we could meet human needs while increasing the health and well-being of our planet?” The film will be followed by a moderated time for discussion and reflection on the film’s messaging, and our guests will be invited to share their thoughts. More details are available on the Events Calendar.

SAVE THE DATE!! Come celebrate spring at the 8th Annual Cornwall Seedy Saturday, scheduled for Mar 18 @ 10:30 am – 2:00 pm. at the Benson Centre, Cornwall. After 3 years of virtual events, we are excited to welcome you back in-person. Returning to our roots, this event will include dozens of exhibits from seed, seedling, and sapling vendors, community and home gardening groups, and local food vendors. You will also find a large “Seed and Garden Tool Swap” table, our famous “Ask A Gardener” area, and several hands-on garden activities throughout the space. A series of beginner workshops will be offered in a small meeting room outside of the exhibit area. More details are available on the Events Calendar.

Getting Involved With Our Food Action Group: 

NEW: Volunteers Needed! Transition Cornwall+ needs help to grow vegetable seedlings for the TC+ Incredible Edible Plant Giveaway at the end of May. The goal of the IE Giveaway is to help build local food security, and its success depends on volunteer growers. Seeds and supplies are provided. Tomato and pepper plants are especially needed. The seedlings are distributed free to families and social organizations in Cornwall and SDG. If you are able to grow some seedlings for this very important event, please contact Karen at [email protected]

We always welcome new volunteers! Come meet the TC+ food action group at one of our events – meet your neighbours, have some fun, share and gain skills, learn more about local food, and be involved in exciting projects. 

Contact us:

By email [email protected] or on Facebook Cornwall, SD&G, Akwesasne Edible Gardening Group 


Gardening Resources

Local Food Producers:

Eastern Ontario Agri-Food Network / Réseau agroalimentaire de l’Est ontarien

Recent projects and events:

On November 28th, we presented a hybrid Zoom-plus-in-person gardening workshop at the Benson Centre, “From Seed to Plant: Tips for Starting a Successful Garden.” If you missed this workshop, or if you would like to view it again, the video is available in our Facebook Group, at this location.

On October 22nd, we participated in the Cornwall Public Library Family Fun Day, where we hosted a booth where kids could play our “bean game” and learn about how plants grow.

Country Homestead Visit

Bill & Karen Carriere’s August 7th Homestead visit was a great success despite the extreme heat. The approximately 40 visitors who came by for a visit were certainly impressed, and despite the weather predictions for that day, no thunder storm arrived to interrupt our day of tours and talks about growing berries, seed saving, and starting late season crops for autumn harvesting.

Neighbourhood Edible Garden Tour

On July 30th, TC+ volunteer Anke Craig led a group tour of some beautiful and productive gardens in her east end Cornwall neighbourhood. In the first photo, Anke shows the tour her planter; in the second photo, we see a neighbour’s very productive raised bed; and in the third photo, we can see a larger garden with a wonderful selection of tomatoes, peppers, and other vegetables.

Incredible Edible Plant Giveaway 2022

Our May 28th Incredible Edible Free Vegetable Plant Giveaway was a busy and exciting event!

The weather was perfect and the plants were plentiful. Around 3,000 vegetable plants were made available to the public! All 4 locations around Cornwall were very busy. A steady stream of eager gardeners went away with vegetable plants for their gardens, patios or balconies, while knowledgeable growers were onsite to share their expertise and answer questions.

This event was made possible from the hard work of local growers & volunteers but the participating public made it a true success. Thank you to everyone!

“Gardening in Pots for Beginners” Workshop

In case you missed our April 27th hybrid workshop (in-person and online via Facebook Live), “Gardening in Pots for Beginners“, you can now watch the video at this Public Facebook link. Marc Ladouceur and Carol Boileau, pictured below, gave a well-organized and informative presentation, which beginning container vegetable growers will find very helpful. And you can read a detailed follow-up article by Shawna O’Neill in the “Standard-Freeholderat this link.

Cornwall Ecoday 2022

And Here we are at the recent Cornwall Ecoday 2022 event on April 23rd in Lamoureux Park, along with the Transition Cornwall+ Tree Action Arbre Working Group:

Past projects and events:

In summer, a wealth of vegetables await our local community at the Fire Station, 4th Street, Cornwall.

As previous years, in June, members of the Food Action Group and community volunteers planted vegetables at the Fire Station, and they are just asking to be picked.  So if you or your friends and neighbours are looking for fresh delicious vegetables, this is where to go.  All we ask is that you leave some for others to enjoy.  What is there?   Well, this week there were beets, tomatoes, fresh basil, lettuce, chard and more…

When it isn’t raining we have to thank the staff of the station for watering, and yesterday members of the Food Action Group and a volunteer did a big weed and mulched the garden.  Have a look at the garden in the photos below:

Another Successful Incredible Edibles

This year more people received free vegetable plants than ever before, thanks to an amazing group of volunteers both from the Food Action Group and the community.  In the days before the public event, over a dozen growers from the community arrived with a bounty of wonderful seedlings to supplement those from our main Food Action Group grower, Karen Carriere and our partner, Marlin’s Orchards.  You can see the photo showing the wealth of plants on the driveway of Food Action Group, Anke Craig, waiting to be distributed.  The day before the main event, several organizations from throughout SDG arrived to collect plants for their residents and clients while others were delivered to locations around Cornwall.  In Glenview Heights, a youth group toured the community to deliver plants to people’s doors.  Meanwhile a squad of very hardworking volunteers were at Lamoureux Park repotting seedlings into permanent pots for those people without gardens.  Piles of compost had been delivered by the City of Cornwall the day before.  And on the Saturday yet more teams of volunteers arrived to pick up plants and set up stations at different sites around the city.  Three were drive-ins (Home Hardware, Local Fill and Food Basics) and one was a walk-in (the pop-ups by Cornwall Square).  Again as you can see by the photos, there were long line-ups and a great response.  Any leftovers were divided between the Local Fill who kindly offered to give them away to customers over the next few days, and the Eco Garden on Race St.  Over 2,000 plants found their way to new homes and hopefully are now beginning to provide fresh home grown vegetables to new owners.   

Whatever happened to those plants that were given away at Incredible Edibles?

Well, we know about some for sure, as we were sent this photo of some tomato plants growing and overtaking one very excited recipient’s patio.  They received the plants as part of the giveaway to organizations around SDG.  As the owner says, they should have invested in scaffolding!

Seed Saving Magic

Transition Cornwall+ now has a monthly column in Sports Energy News and the October 12, 2020 issue talks about the magic of seed saving. To add to the advice in that column, here are some more tips that can help you this fall and next spring. It’s not too late to save seeds!

Seed Saving – It’s not too late!

By Anke Craig

Since fall has arrived, and we had the first frost, you gardeners out there are probably thinking of tidying up your garden and getting it ready for winter. Now is the last chance to save a few seeds of your favourite vegetables, the ones that did well and that you enjoyed eating.

When you pull out your pole beans, you will probably find a few that have grown large and are starting to dry out. At this stage you can cut the bean off the plant with a bit of the plant attached and let it dry out further. Keep the beans in a shed or garage where the air is cool and dry but where they don’t freeze, so that they don’t get moldy. Once they are completely dry, choose the largest beans and take them out of the shell and store in a bag or glass jar and label with the variety and date. Use those beans as seeds and the rest you can use for soups.

If you have a few ripe heirloom tomatoes (not hybrids), that did well in your garden, chose one that is fully ripe, almost going soft, cut it open and scrape out the seeds. Smear the seeds unto a paper towel and write the variety and date on the edge. Let them dry on the paper towel. You do not have to scrape off the seeds, you can do that in the spring and a bit of paper on the seed does not inhibit germination. Store in a cool, dark place.

Arugula is another plant that probably has gone to seed by now . The arugula plant grows tall when it “bolts” and has a long stalk with a white flower. Spindle-like green seed pots will form along the stalk and if you let them dry out they turn beige and brittle. Let them dry out completely and open the seed pods; there you find the small, brown seeds. Keep seeds in an envelope with variety and date on it, in a cool dark place.

Your lettuce has surely gone to seed at this time of year. If you have not removed the plant from your garden yet, look at it closely. The lettuce that was so tasty in the spring is now bitter and tough and has grown tall. On top of the plant is a cluster of yellow flowers that look a bit like dandelions, because lettuce is related to dandelions. The flower will mature, dry out and form a cluster of seeds with white fluff. At this point the stalk should be placed in a paper bag to dry further, when completely dry, shake the bag and the seeds will come off. Store in a dark and dry place, label with variety and year.

Next year have fun planting them!

For more information on this fascinating subject go to “Seeds of Diversity Canada”, .

Incredible Edibles on the Road, May 29th and 30th, 2020

Each year  in May during Incredible Edibles Festival we give away hundreds of vegetable plants in permanent pots and others to replant free to anyone who wishes to pick them up.  Our aim is to encourage people to discover the joy and value of growing their own fresh food.  We along with our partners make this as festive an occasion as possible as we celebrate the beginning of the growing season.  This year, we had to rethink how we could still offer these plants in our community in a way that was safe and effective.  In the end thanks to huge efforts by our volunteers and the generosity of partners came up with an effective alternative.    The plants themselves were mainly lovingly grown at the Carriere’s homestead, and supplemented with some superb vegetable and herb plants from Pat Lucey and also from Tish Gibbs.   Most of these went to the various housing estates around Cornwall thanks to the Cornwall and Area Housing Association and our own volunteers.  Other volunteers found grocery stores and other partners that provided parking lot space for us to distribute hundreds of other plants in places where people can easily come and safely distance.   Each day in each location all the plants were taken long before the end time.  Many recipients expressed their pleasure at this initiative often saying they were new gardeners and this was the start they needed.  

Behind the scenes we had a ‘command post’ at one of our volunteers with plants spread out on her driveway and teams of volunteers came to pick them up and set up the various locations.  Of course none of this would work if people did not know about the event, so an amazing job was done to get the event out on social media and local news outlets.

Our partners:  Downtown BIA Cornwall, Home Hardward (Cornwall), No Frills, Food Basics (2nd St. East), Local Fill, Shortline Convenience, Eastern Ontario Health Unit, Cornwall and Area Housing Association, Social Development Council of Cornwall and Area, Agape, Seaway Valley Health Centre, City of Cornwall

Thank you to everyone who did such an amazing job.  We are already beginning to plan next year’s.

Seedy Saturday, March, 2020

Just as the last details were being put into place for this year’s Seedy Saturday at the Benson Centre in Cornwall, the Covid-19 lockdown began and the physical event had to be cancelled.  A huge disappointment to the community, the seed vendors and other partners as well as for our Food Action Group.  However, the event still went ahead, on line, thanks entirely to an amazing member of our organization and of our community, Kat Rendek.  In only days she was able to get in touch with vendors and organize an online programme where they could still promote their seeds and companies, and reached out to our volunteers and others to offer different on-line activities and events.  So the day happened from Kat’s home and her computer.  An exhausting time for her, but a hugely valuable day for the rest of us.

Backyard Food Day,  Sunday, August 18, 2019 – A day in the country to remember!

Welcome table overseen by John Towndrow  and Oliver Snoxell among others

The homestead of Karen and Bill Carriere in South Stormont is a wonderful oasis of orchards, gardens, greenhouse and forest.  For this public open day, the Carriere’s along with some dedicated volunteers worked extra hard to make it even more rich and enticing.  The aim was to provide people with opportunities to see, learn and share knowledge about growing ones own food.  It was great fun to see the steady flow of visitors arrive to enjoy the gardens, take part in workshops and tours, crafts, delicious baked goods and enjoy the wonderful music.   It is hard to fit in here all the many highlights, but the photos and captions below will hopefully show what a great day it was. Thanks to all the people who volunteered their labour, talents and expertise.

The food and flower gardens were labelled with points of interest allowing visitors to take self-guided and informed tours around the property; but there were also experienced gardeners on site to answer any questions or discuss different gardening methods.

Erin, Anna, Oliver and Lizzie

The sunflower garden, managed by Lizzie Snoxell, Kath Langford and Jane Mattiuz also had the addition of props so families could dress up and take photos with the huge blooms and leave a message on a leaf to be hidden amongst the gardens.

There were two great special guided tours.  One was with chef Mark Currier who lead his group on a foraging walk through the property.  The other was with botanist, Sophie Gibbs, who guided her group on an exploration of the trees in the Carriere’s woodland.

Food Action Group member, Anke Craig held a workshop by the north vegetable garden, to show people how to plant a late harvest of vegetables, and Bill Carriere, took people round the grounds to show them the best mulching methods for vegetables and berries.

The TC+ Tree Action Arbre group members (Dan Marion, Susan Towndrow and Neil Macmillan), were on hand to talk about tree planting and care while inviting people to ‘adopt a bur oak seedling’ and take it home to plant.  They could get an idea of the mature tree by visiting the mother bur oak in the shade garden.