Uncovering hidden urban bounty: A case study of Hidden Harvest
Urban food systems primarily rely on foods grown in rural spaces, and often face challenges in creating spaces to grow fresh, healthful and affordable food in cities. Urban food harvest organizations aim to overcome these challenges by locating and harvesting food that already exists in cities on the numerous fruit- and nut-bearing trees located on public and private lands. Hidden Harvest is a leading initiative for urban fruit and nut harvesting in Canada, and unique in its for-profit social enterprise model. The organization aims to legitimize and support the practice of harvesting fruits and nuts in urban areas, and provides a means to increase access to—and availability of—fresh, healthful foods hyper-locally in Ottawa, as people harvest from their own (or nearby) neighborhoods. This field report examines the challenges and opportunities faced by Hidden Harvest in attempting to link multiple social, environmental and economic goals relating to food sovereignty, social justice and ecological sustainability. In particular, the organization seeks to establish a self-sustaining business model through innovative solutions and the development of networks with local food processes, food organizations and businesses, which enables Hidden Harvest to grow and develop distinct ties and relationships in Ottawa. This case study reveals how organizations such as Hidden Harvest use food to enhance and tie together local economies, knowledge, food security and community well-being.