New Data on Local Food Marketing Practices from the USDA

USDA news release indicates growing importance of food hubs to expansion of local / regional food systems

From the first-ever benchmarking survey on local food marketing practices, conducted by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service:

“More than 167,000 U.S. farms locally produced and sold food through direct marketing practices, resulting in $8.7 billion in revenue in 2015, according to the results from the first Local Food Marketing Practices Survey released today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).”

Read more survey results

DIG (Durham Integrated Growers for a Sustainable Community)

A new case study from our ongoing ‘Social Economy of Food‘ research highlights DIG (Durham Integrated Growers for a Sustainable Community). Compiled by Mary Anne Martin, DIG was collected through interviews with the president of DIG, the coordinator of one of its member projects and one organization that has benefitted from regular delivery of produce from a member garden. In addition, it draws on documents and observations from: DIG’s website, its member projects, its annual general meeting, an executive meeting and a meeting of the Durham Food Policy Council (of which DIG is a member). As a participatory action research initiative, this research involved a collaborative project with DIG and the Durham Food Policy Council that analysed municipal policy in Durham Region to assess its support for urban agriculture and food security. The findings from the policy research also informs this report. Read or download the report!

Eastern Ontario Local Food Conference 2016

November 22-23, Belleville ON

http://www.eastontlocalfood.com/eastern-ontario-local-food-conference-2016/

The Eastern Ontario Local Food Conference is just around the corner and this year’s focus is all about resilience in the face of climate change and other contemporary challenges.  Join us, and best-selling local food author and CBC columnist Sarah Elton, as we explore ways that Eastern Ontario local food and its producers, processors and influencers can meet those challenges and seize opportunities that are unique to Eastern Ontario local food.

This year’s conference includes:

  • Local Food Bus Tour:  An afternoon tour will highlight businesses in the Quinte region who are putting local food on the map.  Visit Sprague Foods, Barn Owl Malt, Wild Card Brewery, Enright Cattle Company, Potter Settlement Winery and Donnandale Farms.
  • Local Food Extravaganza (Tasting Event):  This showcase of local foods and beverages, representing the various culinary regions across Eastern Ontario, will tempt your taste buds into the conference’s first evening.
  • Keynote Speaker:  Drawing on her years of research and writing on food systems, award-winning journalist and best-selling author Sarah Elton will illustrate how Eastern Ontario’s local food system can be a part of the solution to serious global challenges. With inspiring examples from around the world, she will explore the idea of food system resilience – what it means, and how it can be applied locally.
  • Ignite:  Five minutes of back-to-back wisdom and inspiration from ten local food trailblazers.
  • Eastern Ontario Local Food 2050:  What does current scientific understanding predict when it comes to growing conditions in Eastern Ontario in the coming years? How can our agriculture sector prepare to meet challenges and access opportunities that might arise from these changes?
  • Economic Resilience for Local Food: How does a local food system create economic value both for its consumers and its producers? How does a shifting global trade environment affect our local food systems? Join this presentation and discussion with OMAFRA’s senior economist.
  • Global Realities, Local Decisions: Farming, food and beverage businesses can play a role in increasing our local food system’s resilience in response to global challenges. Hear from businesses about how these concerns have affected their local decision making.
  • Food Hubs:  “To Hub or Not to Hub” that is the question.  Explore what is happening with food hubs in Eastern Ontario and what it takes to plan a food hub that meets your community’s needs.
  • Designing Resilient Food Systems:  Hear from innovative farmers who are using infrastructure to improve the long-term resilience of their diverse operations.
  • The Municipal Role in Local Food: Local Food represents an economic development opportunity that municipalities may want to support. But where to start? Hear from jurisdictions that have developed good local food programs in keeping with the municipal role. Learn about resources that exist to guide your efforts and help evaluate your programs.
  • Business Decisions for Resilience: How can businesses plan and structure for economic resilience? How can that resilience benefit their communities? This session will provide examples of leadership in that field.
  • Marketing Local, Selling Local: Discover how one local campaign increases awareness of locally produced products & learn tips for getting your products into retail.
  • Costing & Pricing for Profit: Learn how to calculate your costs and price your products for financial success in retail and wholesale markets.

To register or for further details:

http://www.eastontlocalfood.com/eastern-ontario-local-food-conference-2016/

City and Regional Food Systems Planning and Design for Equity, Justice, and Power

Open Call for Submissions for a Special Issue of the Built Environment Journal

The Built Environment journal will publish a special issue to address how the growing engagement of the planning and design disciplines within city and regional food systems subverts, reinforces, or exacerbates inequities and injustices. Authors are invited to submit articles that explore how planning and design may be used to create and strengthen city and regional food systems, while explicitly considering imbalances in equity, justice, and power.

About the Special Issue 

The guest editors, Samina Raja, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York and Kevin Morgan, Cardiff University, invite submissions from scholars from across the Global South and Global North. Manuscripts from early career scholars, including tenure-track faculty members, post-doctoral scholars, and doctoral students are highly encouraged. The special issue is expected to include 12 articles, not including the editorial. The issue is expected to be published by fall 2017.

Authors are welcome to write about one or more sectors of city and regional food systems. Articles may focus on scholarship that addresses food systems at varying scales, ranging from small towns to large cities and regions. Manuscripts must address the following:

  • Concerns about inequities and injustices, including food, health, social, and economic inequities
  • The interplay between city and regional food systems and the built environment
  • Systemic and spatial exploration of city and regional food systems
  • Concerns about those most marginalized stakeholders in the food system, including low-income populations, people of colour, marginalized workers in the food system, and/or refugees and migrants
  • Ideas for change, including planning, policy, and design solutions

Prize for Early Career Scholar 

Published papers by early career scholars will be considered for a Best Paper Prize. Early career scholars include tenure-track faculty (e.g. Assistant Professors), post-doctoral scholars, and doctoral students. The author of the winning manuscript will receive an honorarium of $1000 (US), and the winning manuscript will be published as an Open Access article.

Submission of Abstract 

To have a manuscript be considered for the special issue, interested authors must submit an abstract of no more than 300 words (not including references) to editors by November 14, 2016. The abstract must describe the thesis or research question, the research design and research methods, and report key findings and recommendations. The abstract must demonstrate the link between the article and the focus of the special issue on equity, justice, and power in food systems. References must be cited using the Harvard system. Abstracts must be submitted in a Word document by e-mail to foodsystems@ap.buffalo.eduThe subject line of the e-mail must specify “[Author’s Last Name]: Built Environment Journal” and the abstract must be attached (in Word format). Authors whose abstracts are judged to be a good fit for the special issue will be notified by November 21, 2016 

Submission of Manuscript 

The full manuscript cannot exceed 5,000 words. Completed manuscripts will undergo a peer-review process prior to selection for publication. Complete manuscripts will follow the format and style of the Built Environment journal published by Alexandrine Press. Additional guidance will be provided to invited authors. Full manuscripts must be submitted no later than January 30, 2017.

Questions 

Send questions about content of the special issue to Samina Raja at sraja@buffalo.edu. Questions about the submission process should be directed to Enjoli Hall at foodsystems@ap.buffalo.eduPlease use the subject line “Built Environment Journal” in all e-mail correspondence.

Fortnightly Feast

Grow Local! Grow Strong! The 7th Annual Assembly of the LOFC Network

The Assembly is an event in which emerging and established co-operatives explore possibilities for collaboration and affirm aligned visions for sustainability, stewardship and co-operation. Celebration of various co-operative successes, active working sessions and network planning are included in the agenda. Read more
February 23 – February 24, 2016
Loyola House, Ignatius Centre, Guelph, Ontario

preceded by

Fair Financing for Local Food and Farms

The various workshops and plenaries will explore innovative and adaptable forms of finance.  Conversations with lenders and funders will explore various financing sources and how to build meaningful dialogue.  The day will also begin to build the case for sector bench-marking and creating the narrative necessary to prove the economic impact of food systems across Ontario. Read more
February 22, 2016 – 9am – 4pm
Loyola House, Ignatius Centre, Guelph, Ontario

What You Get When You Mix Chickens, China and Climate Change

Every few months, it seems, an invasive virus from a distant land attacks the Americas: dengue, chikungunya and, most recently, Zika. But the pathogens that frighten me most are novel strains of avian influenza. Novel avian influenza viruses are mongrels, born when the influenza viruses that live harmlessly inside the bodies of wild ducks, geese and other waterfowl mix with those of domesticated animals like the ones at Jiangfeng, especially poultry but also pigs. Read more

The Eden Alternative

…He decided to transform the nursing home. Based on a hunch, he persuaded his staff to stock the facility with two dogs, four cats, several hens and rabbits, and 100 parakeets, along with hundreds of plants, a vegetable and flower garden, and a day-care site for staffers’ kids. Read more

George Brown launches fund for nutrition research

Toronto’s George Brown College is launching a new initiative that aims to engage municipalities, universities, schools, health agencies and hospitals in helping to improve the diet, physical health and wellness of people in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Called the Helderleigh Nutrition Application Fund, the new fund will make a total of $400,000 available over a four-year period for nutrition and health-related applied research projects conducted in partnership with the college’s Centre for Hospitality and Culinary Arts and its food innovation and research studio, FIRSt. Read more

Ontario Craft Brewery Ramps Up Production

After learning a little more about the program, Wellington Brewery decided to work with a business advisor – who had successfully worked with other breweries to access funding – to help them through the Growing Forward 2 application process. Read more

From Soil to Table: Eco Farm Day 2016

Workshop topics include soil biology, what to do with soil test analysis, holistic management in practice, organic seed potato production, mob grazing, Hops and brewers, direct marketing grains, and more. Read more
Saturday February 20, 8 am – 5 pm
Ramada Inn Cornwall, 805 Brookdale Ave, Cornwall, Ontario

Land Access Testimonials: Farm Viability Webinar Mini-Series

Looking for creative ways to get farming? Is land the last big piece? Explore different models of land access and ask all your questions as four successful farmers from across Canada recount their “land testimonials”. These sessions will be useful for farmers seeking land, farmland owners seeking farmers, and those interested in new farmer and land use policy. Cost: $25 per session or $80 for the series of 4. Series registration deadline is Monday February 15th. You can register for individual webinars up to 48 hours in advance.  Read more or register…

Growing Hops in Eastern Ontario

With an explosion in craft breweries in Ontario, as well as strong demand for locally sourced ingredients, now is a perfect time to consider the option of growing hops for commercial sale. Read more
March 21, 9:30 am to 3:30 pm
Two Rivers Food Hub, 361 Queen St, Unit 5000, Smiths Falls, ON

Selling Food to Ontario

Create new opportunities for your farm or food processing business by learning how to expand into new markets such as grocery stores, restaurants, food hubs, schools, universities and other public institutions. Read more

A first-hand account of development assistance gone awry. An important critique of development practices that undermine peasant strategies as well as suggestions for more effective approaches for the future. Read more
February 25th, 2016, 7-9 pm
Wilson Lounge, 40 Willcocks Street, Toronto

From Local Food to COOL Food

This winter,  Theresa Schumilas, one of the Research Associates with the Laurier Centre for Sustainable Food Systems is launching a new on-line food market that moves us beyond ‘local’ food systems to truly sustainable food systems. The new ‘COOL’ or ‘CO2L’ market, is a bottom-up solution to help cool the planet. Rather than wait on experts to reach agreements about climate change and come up with plans, these new markets will link consumers with the small-scaled producers around the world who are already cooling the planet through their knowledge and skills.

Buying local is a great thing to do, but, it’s not enough. While it’s good to buy locally grown food for many reasons, ‘food miles’ (the distance food is transported from the time of its production until it reaches the consumer) actually make up a relatively small percentage of the overall carbon footprint of food — approximately 11% on average. In comparison, how our food is grown makes up a much larger percentage — roughly 83% of the food’s footprint. The impacts of food on climate depend less on distant travelled and more on the agronomic decisions the farmer makes. But, with the possible exception of certified organic branding, these climate critical on-farm decisions are seldom highlighted in markets selling ‘local’ foods. Consumers need a way to make clear choices about the carbon consequences of the foods they buy, but so far there is no clear marketplace identity for foods that are produced with climate mitigating methods in Canada. That’s where the new ‘COOL’ (or CO2L) comes in.

Open Food Networks dear supermarket adThis new COOL market is built on a new open source platform called “Open Food Networks”. This platform will be initiated in Canada by December, as part of Theresa’s  work to launch Farm 2.0. To do this, she is working to establish SIMPLE criteria for the COOL designation and recruiting vendors to pilot the market in early 2016.

Instead of using complicated and costly criteria and verification systems (which would end up excluding small scale farmers), the COOL market is drawing on the experiences and knowledge of small scaled farmers who have been cooling the planet for centuries.

b_350_0_16777215_00_images_2015-10-15_GrainLVC_videoccen_1

Together, we can cool the planet! from GRAIN on Vimeo.

 

 

They key point is that we know what the main agricultural causes of climate change are, and we know what we need to do to reduce our emissions. We need to think beyond local. We need to learn from, and support small scale farmers around the world. Together we can COOL the planet.

Read the full post here.

If you are interested in getting involved in this –  contact Theresa: tschumilas (at) rogers.com

Announcing Farm 2.0 – A sustainable food hackerspace

OFN break upFarm 2.0 is a new project that explores how internet and communication technologies can be used in Canada’s sustainable food movement to optimize traditional agricultural practices, enable effective networks and facilitate policy change.

Smaller scaled organic and ecological producers are trying to build community around their farms and squeeze out a living in a landscape where farms keep getting bigger, products are more distant, retail is more consolidated and marketing is laden with ‘green washing’. These producers are being supported by ethically-minded consumers, academics and policy-makers. A diverse ecosystem of sustainable food hubs and networks, oriented toward building food systems that are more local, fair and green is coalescing in Canada.

To date, Internet and communication technologies have not figured prominently in forging food system solutions, and the intersection of technology and sustainable food is an under-developed area. One reason for this is that ecological and organic producers have historically favoured low technological, traditional, hands-on and artisanal practices.  But Theresa Schumilas, who recently joined the Laurier Centre for Sustainable Food Systems as a Research Associate and Postdoctoral Fellow,  thinks that these  ‘low tech’ and ‘high tech’ worlds have much in common. An organic farmer herself,  Schumilas wonders if there are ways emerging technologies might open up new spaces for us to imagine and realize radically different practices and make shifts to more sustainable food systems.

Theresa is friend-raising and fund-raising to establish a sustainable food and technology ‘hackerspace’ or ‘lab’ that enables connections and collaboration between Canada’s emerging food hubs/networks and designers, programmers and technologists. She calls the project  ‘Farm 2.0’ to signal an extension of ‘Web 2.0’, which generally refers to how the world wide web has transitioned from being a collection of individual web sites with static information, to the web as a network of interactive computer platforms and applications. Farm 2.0 and Web 2.0 alike signal ethics such as democratization, empowerment, citizenship, sovereignty and protection of both the cyber and terrestrial commons.

In the last few years there has been an explosion of primarily proprietary software packages and web-based applications that are designed to help smaller scaled farmers with marketing.  Theresa has been interviewing ecological farmers about their use of these various programs and notes that their experiences are mixed.  “On one hand, farmers appreciate having help with sales logistics like inventory management and invoicing,  but at the same time,  they are looking for something more. This first generation of on-line marketplaces doesn’t seem to reflect the value placed on the commons that motivates many ecological farmers.”  When you think about it,  what has been happening in sustainable food software,  mirrors what has been happening in the seed industry. Technological ‘solutions’ have mined the knowledge built in the sustainable food movement over the past 30 years,  encoded that experience into a variety of internet-based applications, and sold it back to the farmers and food hubs who originated it. While the sustainable food movement has been focusing on seed sovereignty and building the ecological commons, its cyber commons is being privatized.

The foundation for a Farm 2.0 hackerspace that ‘saves code’ just like seeds,  already exists. Two years ago, in Australia, The Open Food Foundation (OFF) established itself  as a registered charity in order to develop, accumulate and protect open source knowledge, code, applications and platforms for fair and sustainable food systems. The Foundation focuses on bringing together farmers, food hubs and developers in a global network that facilitates open-source, non-proprietary technological innovation toward building more sustainable food systems. Their first project was the development and global launch of a technology platform called Open Food Network (OFN), that offers a way for sustainable food hubs, networks, producers and related food enterprises to link and build connections across local, regional, provincial, national and global scales. One of Theresa’s projects is to put this platform to the service of Canada’s growing sustainable food movement.

Open Food Network (OFN) is a non-proprietary, open-source, online platform. Using a set of intuitive and flexible tools, this multi-purpose software serves as a directory, communication hub and logistics platform that enables relationships among farmers, consumers, food hubs and other food enterprises. On one hand, it is an on-line marketplace. At local scales, it helps eaters find, buy, and learn about sustainable food, and helps producers and food hubs with supply chain logistics. However, the platform is more than a set of marketing tools and differs from other proprietary e-commerce platforms in important ways. OFN is a space that helps isolated sustainable food projects link, learn, and build peer-to-peer networks across scales in order to grow and strengthen a global resilient food movement. Under the oversight of the global foundation (Open Food Network), a community of coders, developers, producers, food hubs and others work to continually improve the platform and proliferate its use using charitable funding as well as reinvestment of revenues.

Since the launch of OFN two years ago, food communities around the world have been licensed and mentored by OFF to use this platform. There are now 25 networks using the platform in Australia, 20 in the UK, 2 in Norway, and teams are currently launching in South Africa, France, the US and (with this project) Canada.

theresa in front of canningTheresa will be updating the Nourishing Communities site regularly, but if you want to be involved in her research,  or if you have some ideas to share,  please email her.

*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.

pilot-case-studies

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!

 

Ecological Farmers of Ontario: Summer Field Days, Farm Tours and Workshops

What a busy summer of Ecological Farmers of Ontario events, with field days and farm tours and workshops across Ontario—bees and goats and poultry and beef and seeds and potatoes and squash and grains and soil … oh my!

Read the full list, and register your support for EFO!

Food Policy and Regional Food Systems

Opportunities for Networking across Jurisdictions

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

1:00 – 2:15 PM EST

REGISTER for the Webinar

Where does your local food policy council fit within the regional food system? Would you like to play a stronger role in both your locality and at a regional level but not sure how? Functioning with limited resources and volunteer members, it can often be easiest for a food policy council to concentrate locally. By understanding the role of local food policy councils within the context of a regional food system, groups can network across geographies to maximize impact and effectiveness of policy changes.

During this webinar, expert panelists will address a number of big picture questions local food policy councils have about regional food systems, including:

  • The role of local food policy councils within a regional network
  • When is it beneficial to connect across a region
  • How to determine your “region” and what to do when definitions vary
  • Best practices and challenges to organizing and building regional networks, including resources and infrastructure needed

These issues will be addressed to show participants how networking across jurisdictions can positively influence food system change. The webinar will also include time for participant Q&A.

Suggested participants: Food policy council coordinators and members, policy-makers, members of the local and regional food system and food system advocates.
This event is sponsored by the Institute for Public Health Innovation and the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future.
Register here