Many Feathers is a non-profit based in Mississauga, Ontario that has projects to promote food sustainability and environmental awareness. We have two main projects that we are working on in our community. The market is a weekly event, and a local hub for businesses and entrepreneurs that are sourced in Ontario to connect with residents. We organize, manage, and do marketing to attract residents and vendors. Our garden project is a start to develop a hub of urban agriculture, and engage with the community and provide access to locally grown organic produce.
Our mission at Many Feathers is to create local community spaces focused on food security in urban and rural settings across Canada in order to re-establish environmental sustainability and self-sufficiency. Our three pillars are: empowerment, sustainability, and community. Empowerment is key to Many Feathers’ goal of creating healthy communities of healthy individuals.
At Many Feathers, we often get questions about the origin of the organization’s name, and what made us choose it. When Many Feathers was first thought up by a group of friends discussing their shared passion for environmental issues, we initially had some trouble finding a name that could capture everything we stood for and hoped to achieve. When we looked around at our little group, we thought of the proverb, “bird of a feather flock together,” and that is something that we felt truly represented us. People who share the same interests and passions will naturally come together. The name Many Feathers reflects our diversity as a group and when people from all walks of life share a passion and a goal, they can come together and achieve great things. All of us here at Many Feathers were drawn to work for the organization because we all truly want to improve our community and bring sustainable practices to our neighbourhoods.
In additions, the word "feathers" became an acronym for our work that built on our mission statement: Friends for Environmental Awareness To Help Empower and Re-establish Sustainability. This also touches on our three pillars of community, sustainability, and empowerment. When we built our organization, we wanted a name that didn't stereotype environmentalism with words like "green”, “eco-”, “enviro-" etc. We wanted to represent the people who would be doing the work, and the community who would benefit – essentially, this meant everyone. Many Feathers represents and is open to all who agree with our vision, regardless of which walk of life they hail from. Considering all of the above, Many Feathers seemed to represent this and truly fit us as the only name that felt right to represent our work and dedication to the community.
Empowerment involves giving people power, agency and control over their own lives. It is educating them so they are aware of their options and capabilities. It is instilling in people the confidence to be active subjects in their own lives rather than passive objects. Many Feathers believes that food is the ideal area in which to begin a project of empowerment: when people take control of their food and health, they also become empowered in all aspects of their lives.
Sustainability is a core concept around which our activities are centred. We consider sustainable development an organizing principle for human life on a finite planet. Our commitment to sustainability is part of our goal to demonstrate how design that is conscious of the cycle of energy and resources can ensure a never-ending insurance of a positive future. Elements of sustainability include: the creation of systems that function with minimal disruption or destruction of the natural environment, the judicious use of finite resources, and the effort to maintain resources and the environment for future generations.
Community can be defined in a number of ways. Community is a sense of unity and belonging within a group of people with a shared sense of history or purpose. Community is inclusion in a group based on merits, rather than exclusion based on demerits. Community can be as simple as getting to know your neighbours, letting them get to know you, and sharing in the knowledge that you can depend on one another. No matter how small, we believe that creating and establishing strong communities opens great possibilities for what can be accomplished.
What We've Achieved
- Established a weekly farmers' market in Mississauga, Ontario to promote local food, going into it's fourth year of operations in 2018
- Supported small businesses and artists through opportunities to be showcased within the community
- Developed two community gardens through volunteer efforts using organic practices
- Established a food donation program for 20% of harvests from our community gardens. In 2017 we donated over 2200lbs of fresh food from our garden and from our vendors donations to Anduhyaun (an aboriginal women's shelter serving the GTA).
- Founded a Night Market at Benares Historic House in partnership with Museums of Mississauga, going into it's second year in 2018
- Planted 260 trees in Lisgar in partnership with the Lisgar Residents' Association and One Million Trees (City of Mississauga, Parks and Forestry)
- Participated in the Streetsville Founders' Bread and Honey Festival since 2015
- Created opportunities for volunteers to gain experience, and grow with us
- Developed partnerships with local businesses through sponsorships
- Created our first education program - Mini Feathers, the Junior Gardener's Club in 2018
- Have created 7 new jobs in urban agriculture in our community
- Participated in UTM's Alternative Reading Week since 2017, working with students and expanding their ideas towards our projects
- with much more to come in 2018!