Tag Archives: Fundraising


Farm To Fork launched October 3, 2013
Farm To Fork launched October 3, 2013

Early on in 2012, my friend Danny and I were sitting around drinking scotch or beer or something of that nature, discussing doing something. I don’t mean doing something in the sense that we were bored and wanted to entertain ourselves with an activity. I mean in the sense of doing something to demonstrate that regular everyday folks could make a meaningful difference in their own community if they simply got off their butts and did something.

Little did we know where that conversation would take us. Little did we know that our conversation-soon-to-be-project would garner the attention of people around the globe. Little did I know how much of an impact this thing would have on my life.

Fast forward to last Thursday. There we were at Innovation Guelph, surrounded by over 100 people – students, staff, and faculty of the University of Guelph, community partners, and local citizens – all interested in learning about, signing up, supporting, and celebrating the launch of the Farm To Fork project. To say that the experience was overwhelming would be an understatement. Over-overwhelming might begin to scratch the surface of what we felt.

I mentioned earlier that this thing - this Farm To Fork thing - has had a huge impact on my life. That is by no means an understatement. For those of you not aware, my training is in Mathematics & Statistics. If anyone were to tell me that one of the things that I would do in my life of which I would be the proudest would dwell in a world outside of Mathematics & Statistics, I might have thought you insane. And yet, here we are – several days post launch – and I am blown away by how things have changed in my life over the last year and a bit. This class project has become more than anything I could have ever imagined.

  • Farm To Fork is a computer science based solution to the very real problem of food insecurity in our community. Just over a year ago I barely knew anything about food insecurity. Now I find myself spending most of my day researching this very real problem, and talking about it with anyone willing to listen.
  • Farm To Fork has been supported by the community in ways I never imagined, including a very successful fund raising campaign earlier this year. Just over a year ago, I would have never even considered crowd-funding for science. Now I’m contacted on a regular basis because I’m apparently one of the first Canadian academics who have used it to support their research.
  • Farm To Fork is the result of community engaged scholarship – students, faculty, and community experts working together to make a difference. Just over a year ago I’d never even heard of community engaged scholarship. Now, I find myself giving talks and extolling the benefits of engaging students in real outside the textbook problems. It is a better way to educate.

My life is vastly different than that I had imagined. This isn’t a bad thing. In fact it’s completely wonderful. It’s amazing and unexpected. It’s full of highs and lows, but mostly highs. It’s beyond the words that I am capable of writing. It is, simply put, more than I could have ever asked for. I am the luckiest bastard I know.


Of course it didn’t just happen. I have to acknowledge the incredible contributions and hard work of so many amazing people. Throughout all of this, Danny and I have been very fortunate to work with the best of the best – people who knew everything about all of the things we didn’t; people who had the power to act, and did; people who inspire me every time I think of what they’ve accomplished. I am incredibly spoiled to be surrounded by so many big brains and bigger hearts. The success of Farm To Fork is due to this collective of awesomeness; this group of dedicated and highly motivated people who know that things change only when we come together and think beyond the rules. I am so fortunate to find myself in the company of these people, and I am forever grateful. There is no way I can thank them enough.

While there are many people to thank, I want to thank the students the most. They were the thinkers, the planners, the doers in this story. They worked tirelessly. They worked beyond the grades. They worked because they knew what they were doing was right. I am incredibly proud of them. So proud that I have no idea how to express the impact they have had on my life. They have reminded me that people can be amazing. They have taught me so much. They have reassured me that, despite what one might read in the news, our future will be bright. Bright because there are people out there who care; because there are people out there who are willing to go above and beyond; because the future will be led by them.

Farm To Fork started out as an idea over scotch, but it has become so much more than that. I couldn’t be prouder.


For those who missed it, this is the slide show that was presented during the launch party.

Dear Readers – I Need Your Help

Farm To Fork

Dearest Readers,

I’m going to phone it in a bit this eve. That’s correct, I’m not going to write a completely different post. Instead, I’m going to modify something that I just posted to Facebook. I hope you’ll forgive me.

Anyway, I know I’ve been yammering on a lot in the past few days, weeks, months about Farm To Fork and our constant requests for funding. That will stop soon. I promise. However, if you are interested in changing the way we deal with food security in this country – hell, in North America even – please consider donating to this program.

Farm To Fork will allow donors (you and me) to know exactly what items a food bank or pantry needs when they need it. Moreover, we’ll receive an email the day we go grocery shopping so we know in real-time what food is required. In this way, we’ll actually be able to donate fresh produce and meats, instead of the standard peanut butter, boxed processed whatever, or leftover canned bric-a-brac that sits in the back of the cupboard for an indeterminant amount of time.

The apps that we are also developing will take this one step further – giving those of us with mobile phones location-based notifications. The minute we walk into a grocery store, our phones will let us know what foods are needed at our food banks and pantries.

We have other ideas in mind as well, but even these simple tools will make a huge difference.

How so?

In short, Farm To Fork will allow those in need to receive healthy, nourishing foods – something we have an abundance of in North America. And yet, despite this, 1 in 40 Canadians go without. That number is appalling. It’s even more upsetting when you realize that we waste so much food. The average Canadian family throws away about $28 in food every week in the home. That doesn’t include restaurant waste.

We have enough food to feed everyone; we’re just not doing the best job we can to make sure that every last member of our society has it.

How else will Farm To Fork help?

Farm To Fork will allow food banks and pantries to have a consistent supply of food, instead of the feast and famine situation that typically occurs now. Imagine – a constant flow of fresh veggies and fruits; shelves stocked with products that aren’t one step up from fast food; food that will actually nourish the bodies and minds of the people who receive it.

To date, 70% of the funding goal from our campaign has been raised. We’ve made it to this point because of awesome people like you. We’ve also made it to this point because of amazing businesses who have recognized the potential of the Farm To Fork project. But we still need to raise about $4500. We need to do so by Sunday.

Much of the funds collected will cover the cost of students who have been volunteering their time to work on the project. They’ve been doing this in lieu of summer jobs – which they easily could have found – because this project means that much to them. But they also have tuition to pay, and I think they should be rewarded for doing something amazing.

Please consider donating whatever you can – $1, $5, $10, $20, $50, $100. It doesn’t matter. Every dollar gets us that much closer to our goal.

If you can’t donate, please consider sharing this post. Email it to your family and friends. Send it to your boss, your grocer, your pastor – anyone who might be interested in helping out.

I wouldn’t be pushing this if I didn’t believe in it. But I know in my heart and in my gut that this program will make a huge difference. Please help us make it a reality.

Donate here -> https://www.microryza.com/projects/farm-to-fork



Two Thirds To Awesome


I think something might be wrong with me. Ever since Friday I’ve had a ridiculous smile on my face and it doesn’t want to go away. Trust me, even when I’m having a serious moment or pondering all things academic or think-y like, there, just beneath the surface is a giant smile.

And every time my thoughts move to the Farm To Fork project, that just beneath the surface smile bursts through. In fact, as I write this post sitting in a Starbucks in Toronto, I’m sure that my neighbouring coffee drinkers are watching me as I grin from ear to ear. They’re likely wondering what I’m up to. I’d probably be wondering what I was up to as well.

The source of my smile is probably obvious. Over the last week the Farm To Fork fundraising campaign not only passed 50% of our $15000 goal, we smashed through it. At last check, citizens and businesses have really stepped up – donating over $10000 to the cause. They’ve recognized the potential of Farm To Fork to be a game changer – making sure that the people in our community who are struggling to feed themselves and their families get what they need. They’ve recognized that meaningful change can occur if we all just start moving things in the right direction. They’ve recognized that the power comes not from talking a good game, but jumping in and getting involved.

And holy hell, that is inspiring. What started as a simple class project has grown into something so much more than I could have ever imagined.

And the support is not just local. I’ve received emails, Facebook messages, and tweets from as far away as Berlin, Kentucky, and across Ontario and Canada. People are hearing about this program and they want to know how they can help.

I repeat – I never expected this thing to be what it has become.

But what is Farm To Fork? At its base level, Farm To Fork connects those of us with the ability to donate to the front line emergency food providers. These are the fine folks who support the members of our community – our brothers, sisters, parents, grandparents, and children – who are struggling to feed themselves and their families. It does so by sending donors a grocery list of items that the food pantry around the corner that you never knew existed might need, on the day they go grocery shopping. We’re also working on mobile apps that will use location based notifications to remind us the minute we step into a grocery store what is needed. And if the stars and planets align, it’s going to be even more than that.

But beyond the lines of code, the hours of testing already completed and as yet to occur, the meetings and presentations and blog posts and tweets, Farm To Fork has become something so much more to me. Farm To Fork has become a reminder to me of how awesome our world can be. It’s a reminder to me that, despite all of the terrible things that might happen every day, there are people out there who want to help. Despite the odds against them, despite the challenges and hours, days, weeks, and months of work, there are people out there who just won’t give up, just won’t say no.

And that, dear readers, is pretty effing amazing.

For those of you who may wish to help out our campaign, check out the link here.


A huge congratulations to Dr. Beth and the 39 other women that just finished the Longest Game of Hockey for Cystic Fibrosis. The game started over 243 hours ago, on August 26, 2011. Since the puck dropped, 40 women and numerous volunteers (see here for a full list of names) have been sharing the ice, the rink, and several trailers, all with the purpose of raising awareness and money to help support research to treat and eventually cure Cystic Fibrosis. If that isn’t a huge cup of inspirational inspiration, then I don’t know what is.

Think about that. Two hundred and forty-three hours, 5 minutes of non-stop hockey. That’s mind-blowing! My mind = blown.

Consider this in full. Each team required 6 players plus a goalie to play the game during the entire 243+ hours. This means there were always 14 players taking part in any one shift. The first and last shifts (a total of approximately 2.5 hours) were played by all players. If we translate this into person-hours (or, amaze-balls-hours, as I like to call them), we have 40\times 2.5h+14\times 240.5h + 40\times\frac{5}{60}h=3470h:20m amaze-balls-hours; roughly 87 amaze-balls-hours on the ice per person. Eighty-seven hours. More than the equivalent of 2 full-time weeks of work. On the ice. Skating. Scoring. Sweating. Dehydrating. Aching. Bleeding. Blistering.

Unfreaking believable.

This is what Awesome looks like.

Talk about embracing exhaustion.

On top of all of this, the players and volunteers managed to raise over 113 thousand dollars (at last count)1. That’s freaking incredible. Dr. Beth managed to raise over 3 grand2 on her own, which is definitely not an easy thing to accomplish.

In addition to all of this awesomeness, Dr. Beth (who was on the white team) managed to skate her way to 60+ goals. In hockey parlance, that’s a hat trick of a hat trick of hat tricks times two plus 2 hat tricks – which is a crazy amount of hat tricks for anyone in the hat tricking business to have. Seriously insane. She also received her first ever penalty (for tripping no less).

The score around 8am (Vancouver time) was

I’m so freaking proud of you Dr. Beth. Congratulations on the best and longest game of hockey ever played. Congratulations on raising so much money for such an amazing cause. And thank you for being so freaking awesome in practically every way possible.

1 Donations are still being accepted. Click on the link up there to the right to donate. Every penny helps.

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Go Dr. Beth Go!

Image pilfered from Dr. Beth's blog. Pilfered images are the best kind of images.

At some point today (or perhaps early tomorrow) we will be able to officially mark the half-way point of Dr. Beth’s epic 10+ day challenge to complete the longest ever continuous game of hockey. For those who might have forgotten, the entire game is being played to raise awareness and money to support research to treat and ultimately cure Cystic Fibrosis. In honour of such an amazing accomplishment, I promise to raise a glass of something booze-y this eve. These are the things that I’m willing to do for Dr. Beth.

Anyway, Dr. Beth had asked that people come down to visit and support her and the team while they are playing. It’s a way to keep the teams’ spirits up, because the task-at-hand is clearly a gruelling one – in mind, body, and spirit. However, since I can’t make it there myself (what with the several thousand kilometre commute that would be required), I thought I would try to come up with a list of slogans that could be proudly displayed in some for of poster goodness. So here you go Dr. Beth; several slogans just for you. Keep up the most awesome work!

I’m also trying to come up with a slogan or three that contain the following hockey terms: zamboni/zamboner, puck bunny, holding, hooking, gross misconduct, five-hole, and/or butt-ending. :)

And don’t forget; if you haven’t donated you can do so by clicking the link on the right side of this page. And feel free to pass on this post so that the word gets out about the need to fund Cystic Fibrosis research.

For those wishing to get a first hand account of the game, check out Dr. Beth’s blog here. Or watch the game live here.