You are now in the main content area

Harvest Collective and Learning Circle

Harvest Collective and Learning Circle crops are displayed on a kitchen counter.

The Harvest Collective and Learning Circle is a Black Food Sovereignty initiative at the Urban Farm. Launched in 2021, the Harvest Collective and Learning Circle aims to engage Black students, faculty, staff and the broader community through the sharing of food, from farm to table. 

Through this work, we are challenging the systemic racism that persists within contemporary food production, urban agricultural systems and within our institutions by developing opportunities for Black-centric programming, training and cultivation right here on campus.

The four pillars of the Harvest Collective and Learning Circle

We aim to engage the Black community through the multi-faceted lens of food, underpinned by four key pillars:

Food literacy

  • Access to nutritious food
  • Meal planning and food budgeting
  • Health, disease prevention and food as medicine

Food and social justice

  • Food policy advocacy
  • Representation in local food systems
  • Equity in accessing spaces
  • Confronting anti-Black racism

Environmental stewardship

  • Ecology
  • Environmental healing
  • Regenerative farming
  • Rooftop farming knowledge mobilization

Community healing

  • Inclusivity
  • Knowledge reclamation
  • Sense of belonging

The Three Bs

To ensure the work of the Harvest Collective and Learning Circle supports Black communities, our activities are guided by the 3Bs: Black-led, Black-mandated and Black-serving. These principles prioritize the voices, wisdom and self-determination of people who are of African, Caribbean and Black of African descent (ACB) and allows us to work collaboratively to reshape food systems and contribute to the nourishing and healing of our communities.

The Harvest Collective and Learning Circle initiative grows crops and medicines that are culturally significant to the African diaspora. Crops and medicines are distributed to the community via our Model of Thirds approach, with one third donated to Black-serving community organizations, one third sold to students at a student rate and one third sold at market price online or at the Ryerson Market.

Food crops

  • African eggplant (garden eggs)
  • Callaloo
  • Jamaican pumpkin
  • Long beans
  • Okra
  • Pigeon peas (gungo peas)
  • Scotch bonnets
  • Thyme

Medicinal crops

  • Cerasee (bitter melon)
  • Fever grass (lemongrass)
  • Ginger
  • Sorrel (roselle hibiscus)
An Urban Farm staff member harvests turnips on the ENG roof.

The Harvest Collective and Learning Circle is proud to offer a wide variety of experiential learning modules, allowing community members to participate in the full spectrum of food production, processing and storage. 

Our learning modules explore multiple facets of Black Food Sovereignty, including knowledge mobilization around topics like Black food history, the contributions Black communities have made to food systems, food and climate justice and engagement through food production. 

Food literacy is also a key theme of our learning modules, with participants exploring the connections between nutrition and food, physical health and mental well-being while also fostering a meaningful sense of belonging and community healing.

Summer 2022 learning module topics

  • Introduction to Black Food Sovereignty
  • Ecological Farming and Environmental Stewardship
  • Food Literacy and Natural Medicines
  • Community Healing, Equity and Inclusion
  • Food Literacy and Food Preservation/Preparation
  • Community Healing Celebration

July 22: Harvest Collective & Learning Circle - a Black Food Sovereignty Initiative

Collaboration and requests

The Harvest Collective and Learning Circle welcomes requests to collaborate by both internal and external groups. We prioritize intentional and purposeful collaboration requests that are grounded in the 3Bs: Black-led, Black-manded and Black-serving. If you have an idea or request that supports the goals of the Harvest Collective and Learning Circle, please contact Nicole Austin, Black-led programs coordinator for the Urban Farm, at n1austin@ryerson.ca.