Studies from the Social Economy in Northwestern Ontario

“The social economy, which places ‘people before profits’ arose from a failure of contemporary political and economic policies to provide minimum acceptable levels of economic and social wellbeing to people.”

These words, from the preamble to the Blueberry Foraging case study (Stolz, Levkoe and Nelson, 2017) help to build a platform from which these new case studies from the social and informal economy of Northwestern Ontario challenge the preeminence of profit and market competition as a motive for social organization. A community collectively selling their surplus to raise funds for youth programs; producers and consumers from across the region cooperating to build more resilient communities; a creative centre using art and gardening to build programs for therapy and rehabilitation—each of these cases identifies threads that, together, comprise the tapestry of Northwestern Ontario’s social economy.

Bring Food Home 2017 in Ottawa!

Impact Ontario’s Food System!

Bring Food Home 2017, brought to you by Sustain Ontario and local host Just Food, in conjunction with the Eastern Ontario Local Food Conference, offers a four day extravaganza showcasing the region for the first time at this biennial network gathering.BFHlogo2017-square

Experience the landscape of the region on the pre-conference tour day, then prepare to join our diverse discussions of issues, policies and challenges, from food justice to food waste. This year’s theme ‘upstream collaboration‘ will be reflected across many plenaries and panels, including the opening plenary—Decolonizing Land and Food.

With a special focus on providing a platform for diverse voices to shape policy strategies for Sustain Ontario network members, this year’s conference offers multiple policy sessions that will inform our collective strategy over the next four years—based on policy position papers prepared by some of Ontario’s leading young researchers.

Join us at Ottawa U on October 26-29, register now!!

Workshop Report

This spring, the Nourishing Communities Research Group hosted a one-day workshop in Ottawa which brought together researchers and community partners who were working on diverse food initiatives with a social or informal purpose, in diverse communities from Atlantic Canada to the Northwest Territories.

The purpose of the workshop was to think about evaluation, indicators, and metrics—ways of measuring and reporting that are useful and relevant for social and informal economy projects. These indicators would help researchers do comparative work while identifying commonalities and gaps, and help everyone to communicate outcomes in a way that would be intuitive to those without food systems background; useful to other social and informal food initiatives; and useful to influence policy-makers and funders.

Read more, and access the report

Nourishing Communities: The Book!

We are excited to announce the release of our edited collection that reflects on nearly a decade of Nourishing Communities research network’s collaborations.

Nourishing Communities: From Fractured Food Systems to Transformative Pathways 
Edited by: Knezevic, I., Blay-Palmer, A., Levkoe, C.Z., Nelson, E., Mount, P. (Springer)
https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-3-319-57000-6

From the publisher:

This edited volume builds on existing alternative food initiatives and food movements research to explore how a systems approach can bring about health and well-being through enhanced collaboration. Chapters describe the myriad ways community-driven actors work to foster food systems that are socially just, embed food in local economies, regenerate the environment and actively engage citizens. Drawing on case studies, interviews and Participatory Action Research projects, the editors share the stories behind community-driven efforts to develop sustainable food systems, and present a critical assessment of both the tensions and the achievements of these initiatives.

The volume is unique in its focus on approaches and methodologies that both support and recognize the value of community-based practices. Throughout the book the editors identify success stories, challenges and opportunities that link practitioner experience to critical debates in food studies, practice and policy. By making current practices visible to scholars, the volume speaks to people engaged in the co-creation of knowledge, and documents a crucial point in the evolution of a rapidly expanding and dynamic sustainable food systems movement.

Entrenched food insecurity, climate change induced crop failures, rural-urban migration, escalating rates of malnutrition related diseases, and aging farm populations are increasingly common obstacles for communities around the world. Merging private, public and civil society spheres, the book gives voice to actors from across the sustainable food system movement including small businesses, not-for-profits, eaters, farmers and government. Insights into the potential for market restructuring, knowledge sharing, planning and bridging civic-political divides come from across Canada, the United States and Mexico, making this a key resource for policy-makers, students, citizens, and practitioners.

For more information, please contact irena.knezevic@carleton.ca

Kudrinko’s: Independent Grocery as Food Hub

A new Food Hub case study of Kudrinko’s is now available.

Figure-1

This case study examines the roles that a successful food hub must play to bridge gaps in local food distribution. Two key strategies for success, diversification and the cultivation of personal relationships, align across different points in the supply chain – from production to retail. Many of the challenges raised in studying Kudrinko’s point to distribution issues in which bricks-and-mortar style food hubs primarily for distribution can be effective in solving. These include issues of: ensuring consistent supply, easing transportation and logistics, educating consumers on seasonality and the growing process, and protecting against the negative impacts of climate change and international trade. Read more

Ontario Campus Food Report Card

Student Feedback Survey
Are you a student at a university in Ontario? Here’s your chance to tell the world how you feel about campus food!
When we talk about sustainable food, we mean food that “does not compromise the environmental, economic, health or social well-being of present and future generations” (Ontario Food and Nutrition Strategy Group, 2017)
When we talk about local food, we mean food produced or harvested in Ontario, including forest or freshwater food, and food and beverages made in Ontario if they include ingredients produced or harvested in Ontario. (Legislative Assembly of Ontario, 2013)
Brought to you by the Campus Food Report Card, a project by Meal Exchange with support from the Greenbelt Fund and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. Read more, or take the survey

Recorded webinar presentations now available online

Subversions from the Informal and Social Economy:

Relocating social and ecological values in food systems

The Nourishing Communities research group is conducting community-based research investigating food initiatives that operate within the social or informal economy, intended to address food security and community development; benefit marginalized communities, including low-income groups, Aboriginal people, youth and women; and provide important environmental stewardship services. We presented initial reflections and case studies from regions across Canada in three 90-minute webinars, available as recorded webinar presentations now through these links:

March 1, 2017 – Eastern Ontario [recorded webinar]

March 14, 2017 – Northwestern Ontario [recorded webinar]

March 15, 2017 – Atlantic Canada and the Northwest Territories [recorded webinar]

 

 

 

 

The Social Economy of Food and the Ontario Food and Nutrition Strategy

The webinar Strengthening Ontario’s Food System: A Collaborative Approach (March 9, 2017) is now available online (YouTube). The webinar summarizes the Ontario Food and Nutrition Strategy (OFNS), and presents the rationale and evidence for 25 priority policy options within three strategic directions: healthy food access, food literacy and skills, and healthy food systems. The webinar also provides a snapshot of programs and policies currently underway that support the OFNS, including a summary of the case studies from the Nourishing Communities research into Social and Informal Economies of Food.

 

Subversions from the Informal and Social Economy of Food – Atlantic Canada and Northwest Territories Webinar

Wednesday March 15 at 12:00 EST

Join us for reports from four unique community-based research cases in Atlantic Canada and the Northwest Territories, where the most prized goals challenge the accepted wisdom of economic primacy.

Seed Saving in Atlantic Canada (Seeds of Diversity and partner organizations)

  • Conserving seed resources and related skills/knowledge
  • Preserving endangered local varieties of seed
  • Strong collaboration among seed savers, seed banks and libraries, and local seed companies
  • Contributions to biodiversity, knowledge conservation, social capital and food security

FarmWorks Investment Co-op

  • Investing in local food economy
  • Provincial policies both make community investments possible and pose barriers to local food business
  • Strengthening economic and social sustainability
  • Mentorship and preserving/sharing food and business skills/knowledge

JustUs! Centre for Small Farms

  • Farmer-to-farmer knowledge sharing
  • Preserving and sharing food skills and knowledge
  • Engagement of marginalized groups
  • Urban-rural and global north-south connections

Kakisa, NT

  • Building a community garden
  • Sharing traditional knowledge
  • Fostering Food sharing networks

ACCESSING THE WEBINARS

The webinars are facilitated through Carleton U, using the ‘Big Blue Button’ platform:

(Platform opens at 11:30 am on March 15, webinar starts at 12:00)

Accessing the webinar:

  1. Go to: http://edc.bigbluebutton.org
  2. Enter your full name
  3. Select the room: Big Data and Agriculture
  4. As a Viewer please use the password: participant
  5. To join the voice bridge for this meeting: click the headset icon in the upper-left (please use a headset to prevent noise).

To join this meeting by phone, dial:

(613) 317-3321 (1-855-215-5935 toll free)

Then enter 29302 as the conference pin number.

Facilitator: Irena Knezevic, Assistant Professor, School of Journalism and Communication, Carleton University

For questions of additional info, please contact pmount@wlu.ca

For more details on the project and webinars

Subversions from the Informal and Social Economy of Food – Northwestern Ontario Webinar

Relocating social and ecological values in food systems

Tuesday March 14 at 11:00 a.m.

Join us for reports from four unique community-based research cases in Northern Ontario, where strengthening local food initiatives builds community purpose, identity and connectedness. Thus, challenging the accepted wisdom of externally-driven, profit-oriented economic primacy. All case studies have emerged as place-based and contextual.

Willow Springs Creative Centre (WSCC) https://www.willowsprings.ca/

Judi Vinni, Founder and Director of WSCC and Rachel Kagegamic, MSW student at Lakehead University

Willow Springs Creative Centre is a progressive social purpose enterprise that provides inclusive art, therapeutic gardening and food programs, services and training. They partner with professional artists, people trained in horticultural therapy and gardening, skilled cooks and bakers, and other talented facilitators. Their home base is nestled in the rural village of Lappe northwest of Thunder Bay, in the historical international Co-op built by local Finnish homesteaders in 1934.

Four key innovative local food related initiatives:

  • Soup and Artisan Bread initiative operates on a Community Shared Agriculture (CSA) model where customers pre-pay for their weekly subscription prepared by local students facing barriers to employment who participate in a training program to connect to and work with locally sourced food.
  • Harvest Share is an urban gleaning project where youth, staff and volunteers turn would-be-wasted fruit into preserves and other products such as cider and sauce for sale at the WSCC weekly market. Profits are used to support the soup and bread training program
  • Willow Springs’ Farmers Market provides access to a local market for Lappe-area producers. The market is a joyful meeting place that incorporates food, art activities and music.
  • Horticulture Therapy and Gardening works with a variety of partners such as schools, organizations service disabled community members, retirement and long-term care facilities to deliver therapeutic gardening programming.

Foraging as a Social Economy in Northern Ontario: A Case Study of Aroland First Nation, Arthur Schupp Wild Foods, Nipigon annual blueberry festival, and the Algoma Highlands blueberry farm.

Researcher: William Stolz, master’s student in Enivronmental Sciences, Lakehead University Interviews with Sheldon Atlookan, Aroland Band Councillor and organizer of blueberry social economy initiatives, Norma Fawcett, Founder of the Nipigon Blueberry Blast, Arthur Schupe, forager of local edible mushrooms and blueberries and Trevor & Tracy Laing, founders and owners of Algoma Highlands Wild Blueberries

Four contexts for foraging are presented to demonstrate distinct foraging practices that all contribute to building social capital, community resilience and innovative diversification of the economy.

  • The Aroland Youth Blueberry Initiative (AYBI) began in 2008, when community members decided to try and sell some of their surplus berries as a fundraising activity to help the youth. In Aroland berry picking is a way of life that can be traced back many generations.
  • Norma Fawcett, an elder of the Lake Helen Reserve, a part of the Red Rock Indian Band, had a vision of establishing a blueberry festival to celebrate and honour the blueberry. The idea was supported by the Nipigon Chamber of Commerce and plays a significant role in introducing people to how and where to pick blueberries, encourages awareness of a free, highly nutritious food source, boosted community connectedness and builds community pride in a locally available food source.
  • Arthuer Schupe is a second generation forager for local blueberries and mushrooms. His intergenerational knowledge of foraging has now branched into marketing fresh and dried morels, chanterelles and blueberries.
  • Algoma Highlands Wild Blueberry Farm, is a first in Northern Ontario. This farm is a natural, sustainable, low-bush wild blueberry farm located near Wawa, Ontario that produces quality fresh and processed blueberry products including jams, blueberry horseradish sauce and blueberry barbecue sauce.

 

Bearskin Lake First Nation

Rosemary McKay, Chief of Bearskin First Nation and Esther McKay, master’s student in the northern environment and cultural program, Lakehead University and a member of Bearskin Lake First Nation.

This case study explores both local food acquisition as a traditional practice for thousands of years and the challenges of food acquisition from a northern store and a local food co-op. Findings have demonstrated that social economy began as a way of life, not as an off-shoot of the mainstream industrial economy. Concepts of social economy and food sovereignty merge within this context. Identity is deeply embedded in the land which is the traditional giver of food.

  • Scaling out is sharing with the community; and scaling up is with other First Nations accessible by winter roads and air. Stewardship values are the driver, not market economy
  • Adaptation to traditional sharing is innovatively augmented with sharing within community through Facebook and penny auctions
  • Hunting and harvesting festivals enhance social capital and resilience by rebuilding knowledge and skills of traditional diets
  • ‘Law of the land’ with in-depth feedback of local ecological system including humans is a distinctly separate paradigm from government policy and regulations of mainstream economy

Cloverbelt Local Food Co-op (CLFC) http://cloverbeltlocalfoodcoop.com/

Jen Springett, President of Cloverbelt Local Food Coop; Allison Streutker, Psychology student at Lakehead University

CLFC is a non-profit, multi-stakeholder co-op that creates food accessibility through an online farmers’ market with five pick-up locations. CLFC connects communities with local goods via distribution sites spanning 350 km across Northwestern Ontario. There are 130 producers serving 1000 plus members including two First Nations and local organizations that support local food.

Objectives

  • Increase visibility & accessibility of local foods available for purchase
  • To educate our community & surrounding areas about the benefits of eating locally
  • To increase local food sales

Projects

  • NWO Local Food Map (2015-2017 nwofoodmap.com
  • The Education Co-ordinator facilitates local food classroom and community education and workshops to enhance local food skills including food preservation to extend the availability of local food
  • Crowdfunded Community Greenhouse for use by local school classes, community organizations and for producers to extend their growing season.
  • Agriculture Co-ordinator facilitates salad bar program, funding for on-farm intern, NWHU apple and carrot projects for school nutrition program

Facilitators: Charles Levkoe, Canada Research Chair in Sustainable Food Systems, Connie Nelson, Professor, Director of Food Security Research Network, Mirella Stroink, Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Psychology, Lakehead University

The webinar is facilitated through Carleton U, using the ‘Big Blue Button’ platform:
Accessing the webinar:  (Platform opens at 10:30 am EST on March 14, webinar starts at 11:00)
2. Enter your full name
3. Select the room: Big Data and Agriculture
4. As a Viewer please use the password: participant
5. To join the voice bridge for this meeting: click the headset icon in the upper-left (please use a headset to prevent noise).
To join this meeting by phone, dial:
Then enter 29302 as the conference pin number.

For questions of additional info, please contact pmount@wlu.ca

For more details on the project and webinars