Category Archives: Nourishing Ontario

Laurier Centre for Sustainable Food Systems (CSFS)

WATERLOO – Wilfrid Laurier University is launching a world-class research centre linking two of the most pressing issues of our time — sustainability and food.

The Laurier Centre for Sustainable Food Systems (CSFS) will be led by Alison Blay-Palmer, a widely-published associate professor of Geography and Environmental Studies at Laurier and leader of the Nourishing Ontario research and community outreach project. Blay-Palmer brings her international connections with leading authorities to the centre, many of whom will be sitting on the advisory committee.

“We are very excited about the creation of the Centre for Sustainable Food Systems,” said Blay-Palmer. “Local and sustainable community food initiatives reflect growing public awareness that food can act as a vehicle for positive change. We plan to be at the forefront of research on these initiatives.”

“The Centre for Sustainable Food Systems will open more opportunities for cross-disciplinary collaboration in an area that is critical to society as a whole,” said Abby Goodrum, vice-president: research. “The vitality of our newest centre is representative of the thriving research climate at Laurier.”

Jonathan Crush, CIGI Chair in Global Migration and Development at the Balsillie School of International Affairs and leader of the Hungry Cities Initiative, will be the associate director of the new centre. Crush is also the founder and lead researcher of the African Food Security Urban Network, focusing on urbanization, food security and migration. He has a lifetime external funding record of more than $18 million.

“The new centre is very timely and has the potential to contribute greatly to addressing the research and policy challenge of urban and rural food insecurity in Africa and elsewhere,” said Crush. “New and innovative solutions to the problems of over and undernutrition are urgently required and the Centre for Sustainable Food Systems will be in the vanguard of applied research and policy-making with partners across the Global South.”

A core of Canadian and international researchers involved with Nourishing Ontario will continue their collaboration through the CSFS. In addition, the centre will involve the more than 20 Laurier faculty with expertise in a range of food research areas.

“This centre will put Laurier and Kitchener-Waterloo on the map on the issue of sustainability and food,” said Blay-Palmer. “We’re looking forward to bringing in internationally recognized speakers, attracting top graduate students and faculty as visiting scholars, and engaging the entire university and regional community.”

A grand opening for the centre is planned for this fall.


Dr. Alison Blay-Palmer, Associate Professor
Geography and Environmental Studies
519-829-0059 or

Kevin Crowley, Director, Communications & Public Affairs
Wilfrid Laurier University
519-884-0710 ext. 3070 or

Upcoming Webinars

Scaling up Alternative Food Initiatives Embedded in the Social Economy

June 24th, 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM Pacific Time

Despite the increasing growth and attention to farmers markets, CSAs, local food box programmes, etc., alternative food initiatives geared towards local production and consumption, many of which emerge from the social economy, remain minor players when contrasted with the conventional food system.

Key Challenge: how to scale-up alternative food initiatives so that they have a greater transformational impact in the larger agri-food system and also serve as a catalyst for broader societal change towards a sustainable and strong social economy?

The case studies examined in this webinar highlight the opportunities and challenges in scaling-up food relocalization without sacrificing commitment to social, economic and environmental values and goals.

We suggest the need to focus attention equally on building physical infrastructure and capacity (production, storage, distribution, retail) whilst also investing in social infrastructure and capacity (coalition-building, partnerships, clustering) required for a robust and resilient local food movement.  We hope to initiate a discussion about the challenges and tensions between pragmatic and transformational approaches to issues of food security, food sovereignty, food justice and sustainability.

Featured Presenters:

Mary Beckie:  Dr. Mary A. Beckie is Associate Professor in the Faculty of Extension, beckie-pic-4University of Alberta. Her research and teaching focuses on sustainable community development, specifically the role of agri-food systems, community-based resource management and the social economy, and is grounded in the scholarship of engagement. Dr. Beckie holds a doctorate in Agricultural Extension and Rural Development from the University of Saskatchewan and has been involved in related work in western Canada, the mid-west United States, Europe, Cuba and Sri Lanka.  Her previous research with BALTA focused on the role of farmers’ markets as catalysts in scaling local food systems.

Sean Connelly: Dr. Sean Connelly is a lecturer in the Department of Geography at the
sean-connelly-photoUniversity of Otago in New Zealand.  His research and teaching interests are in human-environment relations, sustainable community development and local food systems.  He completed post-doctoral research with BALTA focused on local food movements and sustainability and has a PhD in Geography from Simon Fraser University.

Register here!

The Community, the University:

Working Together to Improve Regional Food Systems
Interested in learning about Community-University partnerships and their ability to facilitate healthy, sustainable community food systems?

In 2000, the Waterloo Region was recognized nationally and internationally for its innovative and comprehensive approach to creating a healthy community food system. It was through this approach that food was recognized as a key determinant of health. In this webinar, Katherine Pigott, Steffanie Scott, and Wajma Qaderi-Attayi describe two models of community-university partnerships in the Waterloo Region Food System.

Join us for a webinar
Wednesday June 26, 1 – 2 pm EDT
Sign up to receive call-in information.
Hosted by The Community First: Impacts of Community Engagement (CFICE) project of Food Secure Canada and Carleton University


 “The Connected Organization

Thursday, June 27, 2013 at 1 p.m. ET

Universities, non-profits, governmental agencies, and Extension systems must embrace the principles of the Connected Organization in order to thrive in the future.

Join noted author and speaker Dave Gray to learn how the principles of The Connected Company can be applied to institutions and organizations such as Extension. Gray will talk about why, to keep pace with today’s connected citizens, your University, Extension system, Governmental agency, or non-profit must become a connected organization.

Being connected means being deeply engaged with faculty, staff, partners, and clientele, changing how work is done, how you measure success, and how performance is rewarded. It requires a new way of thinking about your organization: less like a machine to be controlled, and more like a complex, dynamic system that can learn and adapt over time.

Connected organizations have the advantage, because they learn and move faster…While others work in isolation, they link into rich networks of possibility and expand their influence.

Register here!


eOrganic now has more than 90 webinar recordings -on topics ranging from Brown marmorated Stink bug and late blight to organic farming financial benchmarks and National Organic Program updates- available at:

Free Access to Academic Articles on Sustainable Food Systems

Research from the Nourishing Ontario research group is currently available online, in a special issue of Local Environment, including free access to the introduction:

Sustainable Local Food Spaces: Constructing Communities of Food

This includes 10 papers (details here) from our recent Ontario-wide research project.


More free articles!

As part of a celebration of World Environment Day, with the theme “Think.Eat.Save“, the academic publisher Taylor and Francis is offering free access for the month of June to a selection of recent articles, most of which relate to the development of sustainable food systems. You can access these articles here:


Fortnightly Feast – vol. 9

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s decision to radically alter their definition of “local food” has prompted a flurry of responses. The change to a broad definition was supported by large-scale food suppliers and those who felt that the original 50 km limit was overly restrictive. Others suggested that the new rule might be relevant in a province the size of P.E.I., but in larger provinces, the rule would invite market distortion through misleading messages on labels that undermine the efforts of local producers.

In other news…

Farm & Food Care Ontario is presenting Breakfast on the Farm, June 22, 2013, in support of Ontario’s food and farming industry.

Recent national opinion surveys in Australia show that, among other things, “85 per cent want ‘support for local and regional food systems’ to be in the top two priorities of a National Food Plan.”

A permanent city council to promote local food production and consumption?!

Edmonton food council ready to plant roots

The 15-member advisory council, which will be chosen in June, will also have to look at difficult issues like raising chickens and bees in the city, or how to set up a food hub at the local community league, said Hani Quan, principal planner with the city’s new food and urban agriculture strategy. Read more

Fortnightly Feast – vol. 8

Carleton University DGES faculty member Patricia Ballamingie receives Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Research Achievement Award

This Award will assist Ballamingie in advancing two major pieces of research.  Ballamingie is integrally involved in two SSHRC-funded collaborative research teams, one aimed at strengthening community-university engagement, and the other at building sustainable, local food systems. Read more

Stroudco Food Hub “Open Day” a Great Success

Stroudco Food Hub is a not-for-profit co-op delivery service, which brings together a range of local, artisan food and drink sellers. … As well as being given the chance to try out some of Stroudco’s wide range of local food and drink, members of the public were also treated to a presentation on the history of the food hub, which now boasts 49 local producers who serve some 400 customer households. Read more

Experiments in Alternative Community-Building

Cooperative Towns

The village of Greenhills, a greenbelt community in northern Hamilton County built by the federal government as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, turned 75 this month. Read more

Forgotten History: The Cincinnati Social Unit Experiment

Brighton – a small, tightly woven community of artists and art galleries, is located Northwest of Over the Rhine and downtown Cincinnati. … Walking these narrow streets, a person can, for a moment, almost feel the history of a once bustling and vibrant neighborhood, which today, is virtually abandoned. …

However, this neighborhood was, at the beginning of the 20th century, an epicenter for a radical form of Community Organizing known as the Social Unit Experiment.
Read more


Upcoming Webinars

Baltimore: A Healthy Food Access Case Study

Thursday, May 16
11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Pacific / 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Eastern Baltimore offers an important example of a city that has successfully implemented an inter-governmental initiative to increase access to healthy and affordable foods in underserved neighborhoods.

This webinar offers an in-depth exploration of Baltimore’s healthy food retail programs and accomplishments including its virtual supermarket program, the financing of two recent healthy food markets, and a just released study mapping food quality in Baltimore food markets.

Presenters Include:

  • Laura Fox, Director, Baltimore Office of Chronic Disease Prevention
  • Amanda Behren’s, Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future Maryland – Food System Mapping Project
  • Dana Johnson, Market Leader Baltimore, The Reinvestment Fund
  • Patricia Smith, Senior Policy Advisory, The Reinvestment Fund

Register here


Starting a Food Hub: Successful Hubs Share Their Stories

Thursday, May 16, 3:30 – 4:45pm ET

Free! Register Now

Food hubs hold great promise for a myriad of positive community impacts – economic development and job creation, farmland preservation, environmental sustainability… the list goes on.
But how do you start a food hub?
This webinar brings together the stories of the formation and first year of three different, successful food hubs. Our presenters are all founders of their hubs. They will share some of the best decisions they made … and some of the worst. What types of contacts did they feel really helped their business to thrive? How much money did they need, and how did they get it? Why did they choose their incorporation status? And more…

  • Sandi Kronick – Eastern Carolina Organics
  • Chris Hartman – Good Food Collective-Head Water Foods, Inc
  • Jim Crawford – Tuscarora Organic Growers Cooperative

Economic analysis of local and regional food systems: Taking stock and looking ahead

The Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems and the Union of Concerned Scientists cordially invite you to a public webinar
Monday, May 20th – from 3:00 to 4:30 pm EST

Brief Summary – To address the current state and future direction of economic analysis with regard to local and regional food systems, Michigan State University’s Center for Regional Food Systems and the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Food & Environment Program convened a meeting of a group of economists and local food researchers on January 31 and February 1, 2013.   This webinar will provide a brief synopsis of the meeting outcomes, with a focus on questions one should consider when conducting or commissioning a study on the economic impacts of local and regional food systems.   There will be adequate opportunity for participants to weigh in with comments and questions to continue to inform the discussion on future economic impact studies of local and regional food commerce.

To get on the webinar, go to:

The webinar will be recorded for those who are not able to participate on May 20th.  For additional information please contact:

Rich Pirog – Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems  –

Jeff O’Hara – Union of Concerned Scientists –


Resources to Create or Expand Healthy Food Retail: Public and Private Grant and Loan Programs

Thursday, May 30
11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Pacific / 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Eastern

This webinar will provide an overview of the “Find Money” section of the Healthy Food Retail Portal and provide examples of specific federal, state, and local resources that can be tapped to create or expand healthy food retail opportunities in underserved communities.

Presenters Include:

  • Pamela Porter, Executive Vice President, Strategic Consulting, Opportunity Finance Network
  • Christine Fry, Senior Policy Analyst and Program Director, ChangeLab Solutions
  • Khanh Nguyen, Portfolio Director – Healthy Living, The Colorado Health Foundation
  • Patricia Smith, Senior Policy Advisor, The Reinvestment Fund

Register here.

Growing Food Connections

Growing Food ConnectionsBuilding the capacity of local and regional governments to improve community food systems to benefit small and mid-sized farmers and underserved community residents.

The overarching goal of this project is to enhance food security while ensuring sustainable and economically viable agriculture and food production. This requires, in part, removing public policy barriers and deploying innovative public policy tools.

Growing Food Connections is a diverse partnership of researchers, planning practitioners, and food systems stakeholders from across the United States. The partnership includes eight core groups, all of whom will play a role in the research, practice, and educational areas of the GFC initiative.

Read more

** NEW** Micro-Dairy Case Study Video

On April 4, at the OMAF and MRA- U of G Partnership Knowledge Exchange Day 2013: The KTT Toolbox, we took part in a workshop that discussed the processes involved in gathering and responding to user feedback, and the positive changes in the digital toolkit that resulted.

At the same event, Jordan Vander Klok won the Student Video Contest with his video “Building Regional Food Hubs in Ontario: A Micro-Dairy Case Study” [YouTube] – part of a series of video case studies currently being conducted by Nourishing Ontario.

Congratulations, Jordan!!

Models and Best Practices Report

The release of the report “Models and Best Practices for Building Sustainable Food Systems in Ontario and Beyond” has been featured by the Universities of Guelph and Wilfrid Laurier, and picked up by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.


… and elsewhere on the net:

Transition BrockvilleExchange Morning Post