Fortnightly Feast

Bring Food Home: Digging Deeper

This fall, Sudbury will be buzzing with sustainable, healthy food and farming advocates, innovators, and decision-makers gathering for Bring Food Home: Digging Deeper, based at the Sudbury Radisson Hotel on November 20-22, 2015. Sustain Ontario is pleased to announce that Early Bird conference registration is now open, along with tickets for the popular Feast of Local Flavours. Read more

Community Food Projects Indicators of Success FY 2014

The Community Food Projects Indicators of Success FY 2014 report illustrates the collective impact of Community Food Project grantees from FY 2014 based on the metrics from Whole Measures for Community Food Systems. It includes metrics from the 6 areas of impact from Whole Measures: Healthy People, Strong Communities, Thriving Local Economies, Sustainable Ecosystems, Vibrant Farms and Gardens and Fairness and Justice. Read more

Agroecology as a Tool for Liberation: An interview with Miguel Ramirez, National Coordinator of the Organic Agriculture Movement of El Salvador

We say that every square meter of land that is worked with agro-ecology is a liberated square meter. We see it as a tool to transform farmers’ social and economic conditions. We see it as a tool of liberation from the unsustainable capitalist agricultural model that oppresses farmers. Read more

Lessons from the Field: A New Series for Food Hub Development

Since 2009, USDA has invested in 29,100 local food opportunities, including food hubs, small scale processing and farmers markets across all 50 states and the US territories. These investments include over 12,000 loans and micro-loans to small-scale producers who often sell products locally and over 13,000 high tunnels (low-cost covered structures that extend the growing season and make locally-grown products available later in the year). Read more

Running a Food Hub

IN RECENT YEARS, several surveys—including the 2013 National Food Hub Survey1 and the Food Hub Benchmarking Study2—have collected data on U.S. food hubs. What seems to be lacking from the current research on food hubs is information on operations and “lessons learned” from those involved in starting and operating food hubs. Read more

ClearWater at the Reed Farm

Georgina, June 25, 2015 – Council’s unanimous decision last night to lease a portion of the Reed Farm at Willow Beach to the Ontario Water Centre is the latest initiative towards a more prosperous Georgina.

The Centre will rechristen eight acres of the Town-owned property (including the historic homestead) as the “ClearWater Farm”. ClearWater will be a community-based social enterprise to stimulate jobs and the local economy, provide affordable learning opportunities, demonstrate water-wise techniques, and celebrate “field to fork” culinary arts. Read more

 

Canadian “family farm” in the twenty-first century

We would like to invite you to participate in a study entitled Canadian “family farm” in the twenty-first century. This study aims to better understand how well the term “family farm” applies to today’s farms in Canada. Our research team consists of Irena Knezevic (Carleton University), Kelly Bronson (St. Thomas University) and Chantal Clement (graduate student at Carleton University).

We are interested in speaking to Canadian farmers over the age of 18, whose farms fit the designation of a “family farm”.  (A family farm is any farm not managed by a commune, co-operative, or a non-family corporation). If you are interested to participate you will be asked for one 30-60 minute phone interview. For more details or questions about the study,  or to participate in this research project, please contact me at Irena.Knezevic@Carleton.ca

Sincerely,

Irena Knezevic, Assistant Professor

School of Journalism and Communication

Carleton University

 

*NEW* Project SOIL Pilot and Participatory Action Research (PAR) Case Studies

August 18, 2015, from ProjectSOIL.ca

We’re happy to share brand new pilot project case studies from four graduate student PAR on-site food growing projects! Each is available in html and print [pdf] form.

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http://projectsoil.ca/project-overview/pilots/

Students were enriched and tested by their experiences—and each was instrumental in advancing a pilot project with one of our institutional partners: the GreenWerks Garden at Lakehead Psychiatric Hospital (Lauren Turner); the Food School Farm at Centre Wellington District High School (Tim O’Brien); the Victorian Kitchen Gardens at Homewood Health Centre (Emily French); and the Our Farm Project at KW Habilitation (Elena Christy).

This year’s pilot at Hôpital Glengarry Memorial Hospital’s Therapeutic Garden is in full swing, with a weekly market and an Open House held August 7. Further news to come!

 

Social economy in a Globalized World

Guest blog from Irena Knezevic, Assistant Professor, Communication, Carleton University

CIRIEC international research conference on social economy

July 2015, Lisbon, Portugal

International Center of Research and Information on the Public, Social and Cooperative Economy (CIRIEC) organizes a bi-annual research conference focusing on social economy, which by their definition includes cooperatives, mutual societies, foundations, and cultural and philanthropic organizations. This was its fifth conference and over 300 people from around the world were in attendance. Portugal was an appropriate setting for this gathering as the country boasts a vibrant social economy sector and in 2013 it adopted its General Law on Social Economy, following the example of Spain that similarly cemented social economy into its legislative framework in 2011.

This year’s theme was “Social economy in a Globalized World” and consequently many of the sessions focused on issues of globalization, financialization, governance, territories, and the social economy’s relationship to the state. In many ways it was a celebration of the contributions that the sector makes (and can potentially make) to social well-being in a world where economic inequalities are on the rise and the neoliberal economic model is failing.

A number of presentations relied on traditional economic theory to provide very abstract assessments and projections related to social economy. Others reported on very regionally specific trends. Nevertheless, several presentations offered some interesting intersections to our own work. Nathalie Verceles from the Philippines used her fieldwork with indigenous women’s cooperatives to illustrate how the social and informal sectors have been historically undervalued precisely because they typically employ those who are already socially marginalized. Alex Murdock from the United Kingdom described his work with social enterprises to develop measurements of social return on investment, something our community partners have already identified as a pressing need here in Canada. Jutta Gutberlet from the University of Victoria, BC, shared her research on participatory sustainable waste management in Brazil where informal recyclers’ networks formalized into cooperatives to develop enterprises focused on social inclusion, empowerment and collective action.

While generally an enthusiastic gathering, the conference was not without its critics. The purpose of the conference was to “[encourage] interdisciplinary dialogue, exchange and collaboration in order to enhance the contributions and applications of scientific inquiry for understanding and improving the life conditions and experiences of the less favoured people.”

CIRIECWhile the diversity of the participants was notable, the organizational leadership and keynote speakers were much more monolithic. The opening night and the second day’s plenary session included a total of twenty speakers. Only two of them were women (and one of them was not even on the original schedule but spoke in place of a participant who was unable to attend). The rhetoric of inclusion was thus not very well reflected in the voices that were featured. This, however, did allow for very lively coffee-break discussions among participants, suggesting that this imbalance was far from unnoticed.

Despite this shortcoming, the general tone of the conference was that of certainty that social economy can bring about prosperity and equity much more effectively than the neoliberal model ever could. That potential, many of the participants suggested, is what will make social economy blossom in the coming years. You can find more information about CIRIEC here. Or visit the conference website where you can find the complete conference program.

Localized Agri-food Systems: Challenges for the new rurality in a changing world

7th International Conference on Localized Agri-food Systems

During the last decades, Localized agri-food systems (SYAL) have become increasingly important as tools for farmers, rural firms and consumers to meet market challenges and satisfy the rising demand for “food with a farmers face”. The potential contribution of localized agri-food systems to rural development by promoting economic development, social cohesion and counter-acting the demographic impact of agricultural modernization has also increased their political relevance.

The European Research Group SYAL and Södertörn University welcomes you to the 7th biannual world conference on localized agri-food systems. The congress will be organized by Södertörn University and ERG SYAL, and held in Stockholm the 8-10 of May 2016. For more details

A Day full of Promise for Ontario’s Small-Flock Growers and Supply Management Programs

(Artisanal Chicken Ranch, Part I)

After years of pressure from independent small-flock chicken farmers, as well as from NFU, PFO, Sustain Ontario, and Eat Local Sudbury, and after province-wide consultations on what to do with new growth opportunities, Chicken Farmers of Ontario has crafted a potentially marvellous new Artisanal Chicken Policy (pdf 276 kB), and released it yesterday.

CFO to grow local food communities with new ‘Artisanal Chicken’ program launch

BURLINGTON, ON – July 28, 2015 – Chicken Farmers of Ontario (CFO) has announced a portfolio of new programs that will support expanded business opportunities for chicken farmers and offer Ontario consumers even more choice in accessing locally grown, high quality chicken. The new business opportunities were developed following the recent farmer, public and industry ‘Allocating Growth’ consultations, and includes an ‘Artisanal Chicken’ program which will appeal to smaller, independent, family farmers looking to meet local markets. Read more

This means the former Small Flock Exemption policy —which remains at 300— is now the Family Food Program, language that will more clearly align with the intent of the exemption: on-farm consumption or farm-gate sales.

The Artisanal Chicken Program on the other hand “…is directed at those farmers who are interested in growing between 600 and 3,000 chickens annually for select target markets such as local farmer markets.”

The closing date for submissions for 2016 Applications is September 4, 2015.

CFO will also be creating a quota-based Local Niche Markets program for those wishing to graduate from the Artisinal Program “to support those larger niche or regional markets of 6,000 chickens or more per year”.

Gary Larson, 1983… And as with any such program, the devil will be in the details. There are already questions about the fine print—like how will “traditional methods” fly with On-Farm Food Safety Assurance and Animal Care Programs, to provide mutually acceptable, appropriate and complementary levels of on-farm safety, security and viability?

The dust has yet to settle on this newly released policy. Hopefully, we will have some answers to relay in Artisanal Chicken Ranch Part II…

Global Challenges and Rural Responses

Probably the best rural geography conference in Wales

(C’mon, it’s Cymru!)

Guest blog from Phil Mount, Postdoctoral Fellow, Laurier Centre for Sustainable Food Systems

I recently attended Global Challenges and Rural Responses, the 8th Quadrennial UK-US-Canadian Rural Geography Conference in Wales, 6th – 12th July 2015 — co-sponsored by Aberystwyth and Swansea Universities.

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Swansea-castle

 

 

This conference brings together the AAG Rural Geography Specialty Group, the CAG Rural Geography Study Group and the RGS-IBG Rural Geography Research Group in an intense, intimate, engaged format, wherein each of the 33 delegates shares their research with the other 32, in sessions that span a week. Presentations are carefully interspersed with field trips highlighting local rural issues—including the dangers of jogging on increasingly congested Welsh roads…

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Navigating a Gower traffic jam (photo courtesy Doug Ramsey)

… and evenings capped with copious quantities of socializing.

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Enjoying an Y Consti-tutional (photo courtesy Michael Woods)

Themes spanned the transdisciplinary practice of rural geography; the changing nature of rural environmental challenges;

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… the new face[s] of exurban development and rural landscapes; the realities of modern farming; the role of alternative food networks and changing practices in shaping the new rural realities; rural responses to global challenges…

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(photo courtesy Lisa Harrington)

… and rural gentrification; re-imagining and rebuilding rural communities and rural-urban connections; and understanding the implications of global economic restructuring and collaborative responses in rural communities.

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Collaborative responses (photo courtesy Colleen Hiner)

My own research, ‘Scale and the conventionalization of local food’, found many points of interconnection with a series of presentations that mapped the implications of food systems transitions for rural and urban communities, through both local and global food chains. These presentations covered diverse locales—from the South Carolina Lowcountry to Riga, rural Kenya and Hong Kong—as well as diverse subjects, including civic and political engagement, the influence of a legacy of exploitation, political agroecology, cultural firewalls, agriburbia, and measuring the performance of global and local food chains.

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Sampling Welsh-Indian fusion at Patti Raj, Swansea (photo courtesy Colleen Hiner)

For me, many of the conference isights coalesced around the diversity of responses in rural regions and landscapes to global realignments, state-level austerity and delegation of services, combined with a growing distortion from wealthy rural amenity investors.

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…expressing deep concern for the rural horse-racing industry… (photo courtesy Michael Woods)

Over the course of the week, it became clear that rural geography methodologies are well-positioned to incorporate metrics that recognize complexity, and participatory methodologies that recognize rural positionality;

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… to investigate land use policy and struggles;

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North Brandon getting the sharp end of the stick… again (photo courtesy Michael Woods)

… to rethink the rural, and rural globalization; to explore governance of rural countryside, environment and community; and to explain the global challenges and rural responses reflected in uneven development, the construction of rural life, and crossing boundaries.

Newtown-twins

(photo courtesy William Wetherholt)

The conference highlights also included the many forays into the Welsh countryside:

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Three Cliffs Bay (photo courtesy Randall Wilson)

Parkmill, Gower (the UK’s first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) and Three Cliffs Bay;

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greengreenhills2the National Wool Museum, Llandysul, demonstrating the historical and reviving importance of artisanal wool production to the Welsh countryside;

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Centre for Alternative Technology, Llwyngwern Quarry, Pantperthog, Machynlleth

… the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT), with alternative energy and construction displays—including wind, solar, hydro, wood pellets, green roofs, straw bale, packed earth and much, much more;

Frolicking-geographers-Newtown

(photo courtesy Lisa Harrington)

… and Newtown—where stoic field researchers navigated an incredibly serious interactive walk while reflecting on everyday globalization in a small town, using Storymap. And carefully measured the accuracy of random peri-urban birds. Seriously.

It is often difficult to estimate the value that comes from sharing academic work in a conference setting, but i have no doubt that the strength of the bonds created while discussing our work and its implications, across diverse rural Welsh landscapes—and over the occasional pint of Welsh conviviality—will continue to generate fruitful collaboration and useful comparative work on issues that face rural communities, globally, for years to come.

And perhaps a tri-nation croquet grudge match.

Croquet-conversation

(photo courtesy William Wetherholt)

Our Common Future Under Climate Change

Guest blog from Byomkesh Talukder, PhD candidate in Geography and Environmental Studies, Wilfrid Laurier University

In “Our Common Future Under Climate Change” International Scientific Conference, 7-10 July 2015 Paris, France, the scientific community from around the world came together to address key issues concerning climate change in the broader context of global change. The conference offered an opportunity to discuss solutions for both mitigation and adaptation issues, as well as many side events organized by different stakeholders. In the conference, delegates discussed—among many other scientific and social issues—sustainable local communities, sustainable food and agricultural systems, and climate smart agriculture as part of local adaptation and social learning for a transformative low carbon society.

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As one of the doctoral students of Professor Alison Blay-Palmer, I represented and promoted the philosophical views of the Laurier Centre for Sustainable Food Systems, and presented a paper in the conference in UNESCO entitled “Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA) Technique a Tool for Assessing and Comparing Sustainability of Climate Smart and Conventional Agricultural Systems”. During the conference, I also came in contact with many world famous academicians, experts and dignitaries, and had the opportunity to exchange views with Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz.

Ontario Food Hub Case Studies

Food hubs are actual or virtual spaces through which food is collected and distributed to processors, retailers, restaurants, or other organizations. They can also provide space for other food-related activities including food preparation, handling and/or processing, education and skill-building, and increasing food access.

With generous funding from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs, the Nourishing Communities research group has recently completed a series of in-depth case studies of food hubs in Ontario. These case studies tell the stories of innovative food hubs from across the province, and provide insights into what makes a food hub successful, and how these businesses and organizations help build more sustainable, local food systems.

In Northern Ontario, the food hub case study work was led by Dr. Connie Nelson and her team at Lakehead University. Here is a look at what they found.

Reports from Eastern and Southcentral Ontario will be coming soon!

Ontario’s Local Food Report: 2014-15 Edition

The Local Food Strategy is one of the key ways government and industry are working together to solidify Ontario’s position as a world leader in food production.

A major component of the strategy is the Local Food Act, 2013, which provides new tools to increase awareness of local food, nurture local food markets and foster vibrant food-based economies across the province. A key feature of the act is the establishment of goals or targets. The first series of goals – for food literacy – were announced in January 2015. By setting these goals and committing to measure progress, we are working to enable more Ontarians to identify, obtain and prepare food grown in our Ontario.

The Local Food Act, 2013 calls for an annual report on the government’s local food activities. This publication marks our first annual Local Food Report. It provides the groundwork for future reports that will chart our progress in bringing local food to more tables across the province.

Read the full report here