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London committee endorses plan to allow residents to sell their own produce

The program will go before full city council next Tuesday, where it has a chance to earn final approval.
The program will go before full city council next Tuesday, where it has a chance to earn final approval. Paul Chiasson / The Canadian Press

An initiative from city staff that aims to allow green-thumbed Londoners to sell their own produce has come one step closer to receiving final approval.

City councillors on London’s planning and environment committee met on Monday to have their first debate on farm gate sales — a term coined by city staff for a program that seeks to allow Londoners to sell their own produce directly to customers.

READ MORE: City staff proposes plan to allow green-thumbed Londoners to sell their own produce

The program works by adjusting a rule within London’s urban growth boundary — a boundary that is within city limits but removed from London’s rural areas. The current rules only allows Londoners to sell produce grown on their property two days per year, but city staff want to see that limitation altered.

The initiative drew concerns from Mayor Ed Holder, who questioned how city staff could verify the safety of the food potentially being sold by urbanites.

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“As a family who has a bakery … the health unit certainly pays a lot of attention to all retail establishments from a health and safety concerns standpoint,” Holder said, drawing on his experience with Razzle Dazzle Cupcakes, a bakery run by his wife, Judite Holder.

READ MORE: The best Canadian produce to buy this fall — and how to cook them

“Is there sufficient inspection?” he asked.

“I would ask what the technical liability would be … if someone was to get sick or lodge a complaint as a result of food that was purchased in the driveway of some urban dweller.”

City planner John Fleming replied to Holder’s concerns.

“There are farm gate sales throughout the city in many different forms already,” Fleming said, adding that the food that would be sold draws no concerns from a health and safety perspective.

“If they were preparing foods — making relishes and those sorts of things — then there’s a whole series of health and safety type of issues … that are separate from selling this way.”

Urban farming in Montreal
Urban farming in Montreal

Monday’s committee meeting also saw feedback from Londoners during a public participation meeting.

Four Londoners gave their say on the matter, with each person in support of the program.

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Prior to Monday’s meeting, the program had already garnered support from the Middlesex London Food Policy Council, a group that aims to foster a healthy, equitable and ecologically responsible local food system.

A final vote on endorsing farm gate sales saw the planning and environment committee vote 5-1 in favour of the program, with Holder being the lone vote in opposition.

The program will go before full city council next Tuesday, where it has a chance to earn final approval.