Young Black entrepreneur creates growth through Urban Farming
Sundance's urban farming business is planting a seed for the next generation of BIPOC farmers.
Feb 15, 2023
In 2019, Cheyenne Sundance founded the Sundance Harvest, a year-round Toronto farm located in Downsview Park, which provides training and resources for those who want to practice urban farming.
“At first I wanted to work in agriculture but couldn’t find a place to work, because a lot of them were doing unpaid internships and I wasn’t okay with that,” explains Sundance.
She was 22 at the time and decided it was best to try and make it on her own. She managed to secure 800 square feet inside a greenhouse and quickly saw incredible growth.
Today, she harvests on 1.5 acres of space in Downsview Park, land in Guelph where chickens are raised and a third location in Bolton where Sundance Harvest produces all their greens including their wholesale productions.
“We grow food, but most importantly we grow farms.”
Sundance says most of her staff have started their own farms after just one year of being with Sundance Harvest.
Through her farmer incubator program, she’s providing mentorship and helping others like her get access to affordable land, greenhouse space and everything they need to succeed and sell produce.
The Journey to Sundance Harvest
Sundance’s career wasn’t easy.
As a young Black woman looking to break into a mostly older, male-dominated industry, she faced a lot of obstacles and challenges – one of them, was getting around.
“When I first started, I didn’t have a car and didn’t know how to drive so I was taking GO Transit to go to work for almost two years,” recalls Sundance.
“Without transit I wouldn’t have been able to go to work and start Sundance Harvest, so it played a big role.”
A role that continues to this day.
Despite now owning a vehicle, Sundance still takes the GO Train to get into the city for her meetings or to visit community centers where she does consultancy work and helps non-profits.
Sundance, who’s been a GO transit customer for nearly 9 years, says she likes the service because of how accessible it is to nature.
“I like that a lot of the stations are close by to hiking trails and when I’m coming downtown, I can beat the traffic.”
Growing new opportunities
Along with creating a secure and stable income for those who work with her, Sundance is also breaking down barriers.
She started a program called Growing in the Margins, a 12-week free urban agriculture mentorship and education experience for low-income youth on the margins (Black, Indigenous, POC, LGBTQ2s+ and persons with disabilities).
Through education and urban farming, she hopes to alleviate food injustice and food insecurity for youth in the city.
by Nitish Bissonauth Metrolinx bilingual editorial content advisor