Everdale Farm, Hillsburgh Ontario. Sept 21st 12-8pm

On Saturday September 21, the first annual Carrot Stock music festival will be celebrating a unique partnership between Everdale and the Guelph Community Health Centre called The Good Food Project. The two organizations are creating solutions to a growing problem – hungry people in our community.

Despite Guelph having a reputation of being at the front of Canadian agriculture and food innovation, hunger is a real problem. According to statistics from University of Toronto’s Centre for Food Insecurity Policy Research, about 20,000 people (13% of the population) in Guelph and Wellington are food insecure. That means they do not have consistent access to healthy food. When someone is severely food insecure they regularly have to miss meals and significantly limit the quality of the food they eat. When someone is moderately food insecure they often reduce the quantity and quality of their food to make ends meet and they worry about not having enough money to buy food.

Gavin Dandy, Manager of the SEED food project at Guelph Community Health Centre, says it is time for Guelph and Wellington to find home-grown solutions for a problem that has plagued our community for decades and continues to grow. “Food banks were created about forty years ago to solve the problem of malnutrition in Canada. We have learned that food banks are a band aid; they aren’t the long term solution. The SEED’s goal is to build a network of community members and organizations that are committed to developing innovative approaches that lead to long term system change. We believe that Guelph and Wellington can be one of the first communities in Canada where everyone has enough good food to eat.”

Carrot Stock is raising money and support for this important work. “It’s all about the community coming together to make a difference”, says Mark Rodford, Carrot Stock’s manager and also the owner of the Cornerstone restaurant in downtown Guelph. “Carrot Stock has great live music, local beer and cider, and a menu of farm-gourmet food. This year our goal is to raise $30,000, and next year we’ll raise more. We’re in it for the long haul. The more people and businesses we have behind us the more change will happen.”

The festival line-up includes Alysha Brilla & the Brilltones, a 2018 Juno Award Nominated artist, Royal Castles, Annie Sumi, Nicolette & the Nobodies, The Lofters, Funky Mamas, Duncan Ivany and the North Coast band, and Gary Farmer & the Troublemakers, an Indigenous blues band from New Mexico.

“Carrot Stock is building on the success of Everdale’s annual fall event called Carrot Fest.  With Carrot Stock we will keep the meaningful connections from the past but shift the focus of the event towards raising money for food justice and equality.   Carrot Stock is a fundraiser, where the money raised will  help close the gap between those who have healthy food and those who don’t” says Karen Campbell, co-founder of Everdale Farm where Carrot Stock is being hosted.

Carrot Stock is also being modelled after the successful Farms for Change music festival, a fundraising partnership between the New Farm in Creemore and the Stop Community Food Centre in Toronto. “We love what the New Farm has done and we think that the people of Guelph and Wellington will support a similar event,” “Carrot Stock is a great way to raise money, have fun, and bring focus to a good cause. We also want to celebrate the progress we’ve made this year, and look forward to even more connections with the community in the future” says Karen.

In 2019, Everdale is growing about 16,000 lbs. of fresh food for The Good Food Project and the SEED is distributing it through their social enterprise programs. Everdale also hosts the youth, the volunteers and the corporate team building groups for the Good Food Project where the focus is to help grow and harvest the food that all goes towards hunger relief.

The work that Everdale and The SEED are doing to tackle food insecurity is resonating with community members and over 100 people have volunteered with the project this year. Brittany Lee has been a regular volunteer at Everdale this year. “Being outside getting to be a part of growing the food has been an incredible experience. I’ve learned so much about all the work that goes into growing vegetables, which has made me feel more connected to the farms that grow food and our community that accesses it. The Good Food Project is an opportunity for marginalized community members, who are often excluded from local food, to get to access amazing local produce. I love being a part of that.”

Carrot is an all ages festival. There are free bus shuttles from downtown Guelph to the farm as well as on-farm parking. Tickets are for sale on Eventbrite. www.carrotstock2019.eventbrite.ca