FarmWorks Receives National Award

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FarmWorks honoured among Tides Top 10 awardees

Tides Canada named FarmWorks Investment Co-operative Limited among its Tides Top 10 – a national annual award honouring some of Canada’s most innovative social change efforts that inspire people to take action, think in new ways and make the world a better place.

We chose them for: Creating meaningful partnerships with investors and with loan recipients, businesses and other lenders – partnerships that contribute to the growth of food-related enterprises across Nova Scotia.

“Our Tides Top 10 award is an opportunity to shine the spotlight on some of Canada’s most innovative social and environmental initiatives,” said Ross McMillan, President and CEO of Tides Canada. “Each of this year’s recipients has demonstrated innovation, creativity and impact while working at the intersection of social, ecological and economic considerations. We’re pleased to recognize and celebrate their collective dedication to social change.”

FarmWorks Director Ann Anderson said “We’re pleased that Tides Canada has recognized the work we’re doing to put food back where it belongs as a driver of economic and social change. Good food is crucial for our well being and sustainable local food is necessary for our security.”

Visit www.tidescanada.org/tidestop10 and www.farmworks.ca/home to learn more.

About FarmWorks

FarmWorks promotes and provides strategic and responsible community investment in food production and distribution in order to increase access to a sustainable local food supply for all Nova Scotians. FarmWorks’ Community Economic Development Investment Funds provide financing for farms, farm-based secondary processing, and value-added food products, enabling all Nova Scotians to invest in and build a sustainable agricultural and food system.

About Tides Canada

Tides Canada is the country’s largest public foundation dedicated to the environment and social justice – a network that connects an ecosystem of donors and doers who care about our people, our environment and our future.

Media Contact

Linda Best, FarmWorks Investment Co-operative Limited

Phone 902-542-3442, Cell 902-670-3660lbest@ns.sympatico.ca

Food for City Building

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An interview with Wayne Roberts, reflecting on the breakthrough paradigm, social media, and entrepreneurialism.

Phil Mount

fcbWayne Roberts, PhD, is internationally recognized as a leading analyst, advocate and practitioner in the field of city food policy. He lives in Toronto, Canada.

Q:

Your book is called Food for City Building. You argue that food is a critical lever for shaping many aspects of the city, including aspects of a city that aren’t usually seen to be much related to food – such as city transportation systems and urban economic development. What led you to that understanding, and why do you make the claim that this is a “breakthrough paradigm”?

WR:

The idea of Food for City Building came as a breakthrough to me, after about eight years as manager of the Toronto Food Policy Council. It struck me as a new way to frame and position food issues in local government. Framing and positioning are two advocacy skills I try to promote in the book, because, to borrow from the old saying about good questions, a controversy well-framed and well-positioned is a controversy half-won.

All of us in food movements share an enthusiasm for food itself, and value its intrinsic potential to help people and the environment in many ways. But most people, especially most people who exercise positions of power –in other words, the people we in food movements need to influence– don’t see food as having much significance beyond its ability to satisfy our nutritional needs and provide us with the immediate pleasures associated with eating. In other words, most people in government don’t see food as their main business or their particular problem. As long as most people think that way, we’re not going to get very far putting food high on the political agenda because most people see the issues of the pleasure and physical need for food as relatively narrow and private matters, not matters of broad public policy.

I taught myself to put my head in the space of someone running a university or prison, or working in a youth recreation program, or trying to support people who are elderly, or on low income, or who are new to the country. They all think food is a problem for someone else, or a job they can farm out to someone else. As long as food was in that silo, I believed we couldn’t move an overall, holistic, food agenda. I came to the see that our future success depended on our ability to convince such people that food can help them meet their goals as managers of universities or recreation or prison programs, not our goals as advocates of food security. In other words, I was simultaneously reframing food as an opportunity rather than a problem, and as an opportunity for people in many different departments. That new lens on food was a breakthrough in the way I was able to present myself.

When I started at the Toronto Food Policy Council (TFPC), I saw my job as convincing people in other City departments or other units of Toronto Public Health (my mother ship), as well as the general public, that they should support various projects of the TFPC –the parks department should help with community gardens, for example– because that was the right thing to do for the city’s food security.

After eight years of beating my head against that wall, I realized I had to “stop selling and start marketing,” as the marketing slogan goes. While working with a team on the Medical Officer of Health’s food strategy, I realized that food could be presented not as an added burden for overworked managers of outside departments, but as a lever to make their life easier. Gardens in parks could be presented as increasing public appreciation for diversity and inclusiveness in parks, improving public safety through additional users at dawn and dusk, and so on – all for a very modest expense.

That was the genesis of the Food for City Building idea. I translated the food security agenda into a checklist that made life easier for a wide variety of people who had a different city-building agenda, as distinct from a food security agenda.

Given that cities have no formal mandate to deal with food, I think that’s the most positive and persuasive case we can make for cities to take up food issues in a bold, comprehensive and far-reaching way.  If we succeed, it will be a breakthrough that will have entire city administrations get behind a positive food agenda.

Aside from reframing food issues as issues for everyone who works for or cares about cities, this is also a way to reposition how food security and sustainable food policies are seen in terms of the public interest.  Anyone who wants to learn from the overwhelming popularity of public healthcare and public schools should be able to see that their popularity is due to their record of serving everyone’s interest overall – not just the needs of one group of “other people”, be those people the poor, the elderly, immigrants or any other group we can name. I think change advocates have focused far too much on the food needs of a particular needy group and not enough on the public interest and public benefits of everyone having access to better food. The concept of food for city building tries to position food advocacy as advocacy for the whole city, the public benefit – just the way education, healthcare, fire fighting and other services are seen as universal issues of direct relevance to everyone. That shift, in my view, represents a breakthrough in advocacy, a breakaway from the discourse of neo-liberalism, which treats all groups asking for government support as pressure groups, and makes no distinction between groups pushing a private interest and those promoting the public interest. Food for City Building says we are working on projects that will benefit everyone, one way or the other. Food is multi-functional, and therefore good food policy serves multiple purposes.

For people working on food issues, this shift in framing, positioning and advocacy challenges the entire mindset created by the foundational term for today’s food system, a word invented in 1954: agribusiness. The word agribusiness asserts and assumes that food is part of one isolated business sector, not an essential part of a broad culture or part of meeting an essential set of health, social, environmental and economic needs. We need to break the stranglehold of that narrow understanding of food so that people can begin to imagine the enormous possibility of food to transform both personal lives and public institutions and all of the assets we share in common – from public safety to clean air and water.

 

Q:

I can’t help but see that you’re very active on social media. You moderate a Linked In user group called, surprise, Food for City Building. And you also have a Twitter feed, a blogsite and Facebook page promoting Food for City Building themes. I sometimes wonder whether you should do a book called Food for Social Media.

WR:

It’s true, I’m quite taken by the social media, and believe it’s a resource that people in the food movement aren’t using to full advantage. I published (posted???) my book as an e-book, and partnered with a graphics and communication firm called Hypenotic that does work for many food-oriented organizations in Toronto because I wanted to learn with them –and wanted them to learn with me– how food advocates can best make use of the social media.

Leaving aside the tricks of the social media trade –most important of which are the ways of participating in conversations rather than broadcasting messages– Hypenotic staff emphasized that a key element of social marketing is to contribute leadership, and one way to offer leadership is to set up a place where people can discuss new ideas around food. That was especially the inspiration behind our convening the Linked In group called Food for City Building.

It’s odd that I do so much on social media because I am a technical incompetent and a technophobe. The truth is that I have just memorized certain sequences of buttons to push, and don’t really understand how these sites work.  What attracts me to social media is the notion of platform. The Occupy demonstrations had a huge impact on me because they galvanized public attention and put a whole new phrase out there — the notion of the 1 per cent, which still inspires a lot of public discussions. Many people criticized the Occupy people because they didn’t have a “platform,” a body of fixed ideas and answers. But the essence of what they offered was a platform – a place where people could discuss what the big problems were and how they could be addressed.

This should be an important part of the way organizations support the food discussion. I believe food organizers should present themselves as offering a platform, rather than a fixed body of answers. In my view, such a stance respects food for what it does best in the public realm; it invites people to take their own power, personally and collectively. I try to do my little bit to promote this presence by sponsoring social media sites, and count on others with more resources and more tech savvy to do the same.

 

Q:

Your subtitle says the book is A Field Guide for Planners, Actionists and Entrepreneurs. What’s with that, and why don’t sustainability advocates make the list?

WR:

I don’t want to read too much into the words of a sub-title that’s mainly trying to be a bit catchy. The Hypenotic people came up with field guide because they saw it as more open-ended, and more fun and campier than a manual. I liked it because I am trying to sensitize people to the policy environment of local government and give people a way to look for, identify and be wary of certain signs. That’s more important at this stage, when about 250 food policy councils are just getting underway, and still some distance from nailing down the specifics of particular policy gains.

I call out planners in the sub-title because they’re people who are expected to deal with the city and region as a whole, a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. By highlighting planners, I am driving home my point that food is about that Big Picture agenda of cities and regions.

I call out Actionists because I want to bring attention to the fact that the food scene is producing a new species of activists – Actionists who take power and responsibility by actually implementing innovations. Since 1995 –when I wrote a book called Get a Life!– I’ve been arguing that people have to do “more demonstration projects and fewer demonstration protests”. At that time, I didn’t know that food was made for just such politics and social enterprise.

Last but not least, I call out Entrepreneurs because I want to present myself as innovation-friendly, not someone who wants to go back to the old ways of doing food. I also want to present myself as business friendly and economy-friendly, despite the fact that I’m very strongly opposed to business monopolies. To be more precise, I should say I am business friendly, innovation friendly, and economy-friendly because I identify monopoly –largely foreign monopoly– control of the food system as the major barrier to an improved food system.

I also want to stress that entrepreneurship –a beautiful phrase that refers to the act of being the in- between of people and forces being brought together– is as much a force in charities, non-profits and public policy as it is in business and social ventures. People who work on food policy must become policy entrepreneurs, working between and among all the people needed to develop robust food policy.

An essential element of the human relationship to food is entrepreneurial. We are not just passive consumers of either food or government services in the food area.

Entrepreneurialism comes with the territory of human food. Infants have to engage right from the first when they breastfeed. Babies and their moms equally have to learn how to breastfeed. Our entire biological relationship to food is entrepreneurial. We have big brains and other assets because we don’t have to devote most of our bodies to hardware and instinct, and have lots of space free for open-ended software. And because we are omnivores, we have to actively search for the makings of every meal, not just chew on grass or leaves all day. Entrepreneurial relationships to food are the essence of our biology. Likewise, a healthy society and economy and culture comes from relationships, being between, being entre-preneurial.

The major ingredients of sustainability –and I do believe food projects can make a decisive contribution to the sustainability process– come from food offerings of planning, pro-active economies and entrepreneurial and relationship-based ways of meeting our needs. Sustainability is the end point of doing food and other needs right. That’s why I see sustainability as the invisible word at the end of the title.

 

 

FOOD HUB EXCITEMENT IS EVERYWHERE!

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First posted April 8, 2014 on the website of the Guelph Wellington Task Force for Poverty Elimination

Blog post by Erin Nelson
Erin is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Guelph School of Environmental Design and Rural Development and a Seed Community Food Hub Committee Member

For someone like me, who thinks food hubs are really great, it has been an exciting couple of weeks. First, I was able to attend a food hub conference in North Carolina where I met people from the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona, Rochester New York’s Foodlink, the Food Bank of East Alabama, and the Oregon Food Bank. These organizations are part of a growing movement to transform food banks into places that provide good, healthy food, while at the same time working to build thriving community food systems and fighting the root causes of food insecurity. Hearing the stories of how these four food banks have reimagined their role in the community, and have become places that represent empowerment, learning, and even celebration, was incredibly inspiring.

I brought that inspiration back with me to Guelph, where there has been growing momentum for a local project modeled on the kind of work I saw happening in the United States, and on the vision of Community Food Centres Canada. (Incidentally, when the folks in the U.S. heard that I was part of a project connected to Community Food Centres Canada, they treated me like I was a bit of a rock star. This had nothing to do with me, and everything to do with the fact that CFCC founder Nick Saul is a genuine hero to people trying to shift the way we address hunger in our communities. If this shift interests you at all, I highly recommend his book The Stop: How the Fight for Good Food Transformed a Community and Inspired a Movement.)

Back to Guelph, and our local community food security story. At the end of January, more than 100 people gathered at Dublin Street United Church for an Open Space workshop to brainstorm ideas for The Seed Community Food Hub. There was so much energy and enthusiasm in the room that day you could almost reach out and touch it. On April 4th, a smaller group of dedicated Seed supporters got together at the Guelph Community Health Centre to take things a step further. Using the fabulous ideas that were generated by the Open Space(as well as other research and community consultation results), we started building a solid action plan to get The Seed off the ground.

The workshop was facilitated by Taylor Newberry Consulting’s Jaime Brown, who began the day by telling the story of The Seed’s development, from 2009 to today. Then we all got to work on the action planning that will help us write the next chapter of The Seed story together. People in the room represented many different community groups and organizations, including the Poverty Task Force, the Guelph-Wellington Food Round Table, Community Voices, the Guelph Neighbourhood Support Coalition, the United Way, the Upper Grand District School Board, Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health, the City of Guelph, the University of Guelph’s Research Shop, Farm-to-Fork, the Appleseed Collective Revival and many more. We were particularly lucky to have Elizabeth Fraser in the room, who shared a wealth of knowledge and expertise based on her years of experience working at Community Food Centres Canada. We were also grateful for a delicious lunch provided by local caterer Terra et Silva.

By the end of the day, lots of ideas had been collected and organized focusing on key priorities like finding a location, securing funding, and building programs. The Seed Committee will spend the next few weeks pulling these ideas together and integrating them into the work that it has already done. Then, action groups can really start digging into these activities and preparing the ground for The Seed to be planted.

If I felt inspired after hearing the stories of our American counterparts, I felt even more so after Friday’s Seed planning day. At its core, the vision of The Seed – and organizations like it – is about the power of food to build community. Even before it has opened its doors, that’s exactly what is already happening. A few weeks ago, as I was walking in downtown Guelph, I saw somebody I didn’t recognize wearing a Seed button, and it put a huge smile on my face. We later chatted, and he told me that he loves the idea of The Seed but for now can only support it by wearing the button. That kind of support is invaluable! If you’d like to see more Seed buttons around town, or would like to be involved in any way in the building of The Seed, please contactinfo@gwpoverty.ca (or find someone around town wearing the logo on their jacket and say hi!).

News from the Food Security Research Network

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The Food Security Research Network, the Faculty of Natural Resources Management at Lakehead University, the North Superior Workforce Planning Board and the Northwest Training and Adjustment Board have put together a poster that comprehensively documents the lessons from their Workforce Multiplier Effect Study.

Poster-Mulltiplier Effect Study (pdf 313 kB)

The Study

The Workforce Multiplier Effect of Local Farms and Food Processors in Northwestern Ontario (pdf 1 MB) is a report from the Food Security Research Network and the Faculty of Natural Resources Management at Lakehead University, funded and supported by the North Superior Workforce Planning Board and the Northwest Training and Adjustment Board.
_____

The agricultural food production sector is an important industry in Northwestern Ontario. One of the notable characteristics of the agricultural food production sector is that it provides residents with a range of local food options. There has been a growing demand of locally produced food over the last decade with increasing awareness of environmental, economic, and health implications of eating local food. The development of local food systems is a growing area of interest and is viewed as a logical strategy to improve community economic vitality.
The purpose of this report is to provide a detailed examination of the role played by the food production and processing sector on workforce multiplier effect in Northwestern Ontario. This includes an assessment of the indirect impacts of employment generated in the region. The study assesses the current state of food production, compares the changes in the state of food production between 2006 and 2011, explores the workforce multiplier effect of local food production throughout the economy, and provides a forecast of workforce multiplier effect of local food production for the next 5 years in each of the three districts (Thunder Bay, Rainy River and Kenora) of Northwestern Ontario. The report is intended to help the broader community better understand the nature and economic significance of the food production and processing in terms of jobs. The findings are also intended to inform program and policy development work within Northwestern Ontario.

Read more

Webinar: Building Relationships

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The key to influencing local, sustainable procurement at institutions

Hosted by Food Secure Canada

Join us in this webinar to find out more about the CFSP’s lessons learned, approach, and to hear first hand about the experience of students affecting cultural changes in institutional food systems.

THURSDAY, APRIL 10TH, 1 PM EST

Since 2011, the Campus Food Systems Project (CFSP), a joint initiative between Meal Exchange and Sierra Youth Coalition, has been working to empower students with the leadership skills they need to bring healthy, local, and sustainable food to Canadian campuses. An essential component of this project has been the work of our student leaders to cultivate a shared culture of investment and interest in the food system across key players within their institutions. Our student leaders have successfully empowered champions and developed diverse networks within their institutions and communities. These networks and relationships are key ingredients to pushing a good food agenda forward within any institutional food system – be it a post-secondary campus, hospital, or school.

 

Fortnightly Feast vol. 19

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Upcoming Webinars

Food on our minds: Diet, mental health, and the role of community food programs

Wednesday April 9, 2014 from 12 to 1 p.m. EDT

Free!  Register Here! - https://cfccanada.webex.com/

Join us on Wednesday, April 9th from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. EDT for a webinar pod-cast that will explore the role that a healthy diet and cooking together have in mental health promotion. In this webinar, Karen Davison, a dietitian and leading researcher in the intersection of nutrition and mental health, will share key findings from her work. And Kristyn Dunnion, the Community Kitchen Coordinator at The Stop Community Food Centre, will speak about her experience running food programs for those struggling with mental health and poverty. The webinar will be moderated by Dr. Trace MacKay, Research and Evaluation Coordinator at Community Food Centres Canada.

Key topics we’ll cover in this webinar include: the impact of diet as a prevention and response to mental health challenges, the role that poverty and food insecurity play in mental health, and how food programs can be an important part of the response.
We’d like to cater the webinar to your interests, so please email us questions you’d like us to pose during the webinar and we’ll do our best to get to as many as we can.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Emily at emily@cfccanada.ca.

 

Food Justice, Obesity & the Social Determinants of Health
April 10, 2 p.m. EST
Presented in conjunction with National Public Health WeekShiriki Kumanyika, PhD, MPH, APHA president-electCecilia Martinez, PhD, Center for Earth, Energy & Democracy
Healthy communities depend on food environments that offer all residents access to healthy food choices. Where people live should not dictate how well they can eat, but it often does. APHA President-elect Shiriki Kumanyika, PhD, discusses food environments as drivers of obesity and related diseases as well as critical elements in achieving health equity. Speaker Cecilia Martinez, PhD, will discuss community indicators for food justice.

This is part 1 of a 4-part series, co-sponsored by APHA and Healthy Food Action. Register once for all four. You may attend as many as you like, but are not required to attend all four.

 

Collectiveimpactforum.org is now live!

The Collective Impact Forum, an initiative of FSG and the Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions, is a resource for people and organizations using the collective impact approach to address large-scale social and environmental problems. We aim to increase the effectiveness and adoption of collective impact by providing practitioners with access to the tools, training opportunities, and peer networks they need to be successful in their work.

Aboriginal Food Security in Northern Canada

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An Assessment of the State of Knowledge

Food insecurity presents a serious and growing challenge in Canada’s northern and remote Aboriginal communities. In 2011, off-reserve Aboriginal households in Canada were about twice as likely as other Canadian households to be food insecure. Finding lasting solutions will require the involvement not just of policy-makers but of those most affected by food insecurity: people living in the North.

Aboriginal Food Security in Northern Canada: An Assessment of the State of Knowledge offers policy-makers a holistic starting-point for discussion and problem-solving. It also provides evidence and options to researchers and communities engaging in local responses.

Read the full report.

Alimentation : Vers de nouveaux modes de consommation ?

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nonameL’Institut des régions chaudes, Montpellier SupAgro et la Chaire UNESCO «Alimentations du Monde» ont mis en ligne les vidéos de colloque annuel du 31 janvier dernier : “Alimentation : vers de nouveaux modes de consommation ?”

 

http://www.chaireunesco-adm.com/spip.php?rubrique93

La consommation alimentaire des ménages est identifiée comme un enjeu majeur en matière de durabilité, notamment pour réduire les impacts des activités humaines sur l’environnement et améliorer la santé des populations. On reconnaît également de plus en plus l’importance des comportements domestiques, après achat.

 

The UNESCO Chair on World Food Systems has posted the videos from the third edition of its annual conference, “Towards new patterns of consumption” (January 31st, 2014), which explored the food system at the scale of individual.

Food consumption is identified as a major challenge in terms of sustainability, including reducing the impacts of human activities on the environment and improve the health of populations. This raises the question of possible incentives (and their effectiveness) in changing food consumption patterns. What are the levers and brakes that can intervene in supporting practice changes? What is its acceptability by consumers? What types of alternative models participate in change?

http://www.chaireunesco-adm.com/spip.php?rubrique93 

Farmlands and Succession Services Capacity Building Project

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FarmStart Job Posting / RFP

FarmStart is seeking an individual or consultant to work closely with our staff team and with various technical consultants and advisors to assess the feasibility, analyze and identify the necessary capacity, and develop business plans for the following farmland and farm succession services:

  1. Matchmaking Services: Identify the opportunities and costs of providing matchmaking services for farmland owners including non-farmers, retiring or downsizing farmers, institutions, as well as corporate landholders.
  2. Coaching Services for Farm Seekers: The goal is to provide coaching and advising services for farm seekers to help them through farm opportunity assessments, contract negotiations, whole farm planning, and creative and traditional financing. Develop a plan for a series of workshops, structured coaching, and for-fee coaching services that will be provided by working with existing farm business advisors and rural realtors.
  3. Management Services for the Development of Farm Condos and Community Farms: Work with our established Municipal partners to develop the feasibility assessment, planning documents, and investment structures to build a pilot Condo Farm that would be financed by local investors.

This could be a 6-month employment contract within FarmStart, or the work could be completed by an external consultant.
We expect this feasibility assessment and capacity building work may result in new employment opportunities implementing new programming or services.

For scope, deliverables, timeline, salary/budget and application process please see Succession Services RFP – Job Posting[pdf 40 kB].

Questions about this posting may also be sent to jobs@farmstart.ca