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.

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

Seeding the Future

SEED CONNECTIONS CONFERENCE

November 7th, 8th, 9th, 2014 
MacDonald Campus of McGill University, Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, Quebec

The Eastern Canadian Organic Seed Growers Network (ECOSGN) Seed Connections conference is a fully bilingual event bringing together farmers, seed-savers, seed companies, community gardeners, researchers, and experts on organic seed production to share knowledge, skills, and experience over a packed, 3-day agenda!

Brought to you by ECOSGN, The Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security and Seeds of Diversity Canada

 

Seed Facilitation Fund

The goal of the Seed Facilitation Fund is to help build a diverse and resilient seed system by strengthening the capacity of ecological vegetable seed and field crop producers. The Fund provides financial support to organizations and individuals who share the values and goals of our program, and who are undertaking initiatives that help advance the following objectives:

  • To increase the quality, quantity and diversity of ecologically grown Canadian seed
  • To promote public access to seed
  • To facilitate information-sharing and collaboration among individuals and organizations committed to advancing an ecological and diverse seed system in Canada
  • To respect, advance, and promote the knowledge of farmers in seed and food production

Applicants may submit proposals for a maximum of $8,000per project. In total, approximately $200,000 will be allocated across the country in 2015.

TIMELINE
This call for proposals is launched October 6, 2014
The deadline for applications is November 17, 2014
Click here for applications and details

 

Atlantic Canada Regional Seed Bank

from the Herald News, October 20, 2014
A seed of survival was planted at Dalhousie University’s agriculture campus on Monday.

“Up to 10,000 plant species or maybe more are at risk of extinction,” said Stephanie Hughes, regional co-ordinator for the Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security.

That said, Hughes and partners Dalhousie, USC Canada and Seeds of Diversity Canada announced the first regional seed bank in Atlantic Canada, to be housed at the university’s plant and animal science department. The bank is intended to help farmers create a stronger local food system, while focusing on high-quality, diverse, local seed that has agronomic, historical and cultural importance to the region.
Read more

 

Breaking Ground

Building Resilient and Innovative Food Systems

Join the Halton Food Council to hear from a panel of farmers, policymakers, community groups, and grocers as they share their stories about the opportunities and challenges to build a more resilient local food system.

Thursday, November 6th, 2014

8:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

A local breakfast and lunch will be served. For more information contact haltonfoodcouncil@gmail.com or call 647-830-0328. Space is limited.

Register at http://haltonfoodsummit.eventbrite.ca 

New Papers on Food Systems

From Nourishing Communities members Connie Nelson and Mirella Stroink:

Accessibility and Viability: A Complex Adaptive Systems Approach to a Wicked Problem for the Local Food Movement

There is a tension between enhancing vulnerable people’s access to local nutritious food and ensuring viable incomes for local farmers. This tension arises as a result of interactions and processes scaling outward to the broad level of economic and political ideologies (Ikerd, 2005; 2012). We suggest that by conceiving of this tension as a wicked problem and employing complex adaptive systems theory, we create space in which community members are empowered to share existing knowledge and develop new knowledge as they innovate potential solutions and discuss constructive change. We introduce this space as the beginnings of a dialogue-driven, shared journey through four features of the back loop of the adaptive cycle. Read more

… and from international partner Samina Raja et al.

Rustbelt Radicalism: A Decade of Food Systems Planning Practice in Buffalo, New York (USA)

Pressure is increasing from nongovernmental actors to incorporate food more concretely into municipal policies and plans. A qualitative case study of Buffalo, New York (USA), demonstrates that incremental, persistent food systems practice and advocacy by nonstate actors, a group we call the “rustbelt radicals,” followed by their collective engagement with municipal planning, can lead to transformations in municipal policy and planning for strengthening food systems. The paper concludes with seven factors that enable “rustbelt radicals” to transform local food systems plans and policies. Read more

News from the Food Security Research Network

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

How Local Food Helps the Economy

AMES, Iowa — A new report from the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture shows that institutional purchases of local food added nearly $9 million to the Iowa economy in 2012.

What’s more, the report points out enormous opportunities for local foods in Iowa that could benefit rural communities and farm-based businesses. Investigators measured significant sales from only a small segment of potential markets for local foods among grocery stores, restaurants, hospitals, nursing homes, college and school food services and other institutions.

The findings are part of an evaluation of the Regional Food Systems Working Group (RFSWG) that supports local food systems in 90 of Iowa’s 99 counties. It is the first coordinated, comprehensive attempt to measure actual economic and community impacts associated with regional food system development in Iowa.

The coordinators distributed surveys to area buyers and farmers they worked with to collect information about these key indicators of economic impact:
·       Local food purchases in 2012: 74 buyers reported total purchases of $8,934,126.
·       Local food sales in 2012: 103 farmers reported total sales of $10,549,296;
·       New jobs related to local food in 2012: A total 36 new jobs (24 full-time equivalent) were created in 2012 (reported by a subset of buyers and farmers).

The statewide report, 2012 Economic Impacts of Iowa’s Regional Food Systems Working Group, is available on the Leopold Center website at: www.leopold.iastate.edu/local-food

Positions in Food Systems Studies

Postdoctoral scholar: Agriburban food systems

We are looking for a postdoctoral scholar to assist with a funded SSHRC study to examine food production systems on the rural/urban fringe in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, with a potential for additional fieldwork in Portland, Oregon. The ideal candidate will have expertise in local food systems and experience analyzing small lot farming operations and land use change on the rural/urban fringe. There is significant scope to pursue one’s own interests within the larger context of the project.

This two year position, beginning in January of 2014, will be jointly supervised by Dr. Lenore Newman, Canada Research Chair in Food Security and Environment at the University of the Fraser Valley, and Dr. Hannah Wittman in the Faculty of Land and Food Systems and the Institute for Resources, Environment, and Sustainability at the University of British Columbia. The position will require residence in Vancouver or the Fraser Valley, and a valid driver’s license. GIS skills are also a desired asset. Salary is 40,000 per year plus benefits, with generous research expenses and conference presentation funding available. Please send an expression of interest, a CV, and contact information for two academic references to lenore.newman@ufv.ca and hannah.wittman@ubc.ca by October 15, 2013.

 

Lakehead University
Tier II Canada Research Chair in Food Systems Studies

Lakehead University invites applications for a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Tier II Canada Research Chair (CRC) in Food Systems Studies at a rank commensurate with experience and qualifications. We seek an innovative, outstanding emerging researcher that has demonstrated interdisciplinary research strengths, grantsmanship and publications in food systems study.  The Chair will work closely with colleagues in the Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences and will take a lead role at the Food Security Research Network (FSRN) (www.fsrn.ca ) which has an established track record in community-based research. Read more

Ithaca College
ASSISTANT PROFESSOR
Environmental Studies & Sciences
Ithaca College invites applications for a renewable three-year non-tenure eligible Assistant Professor position in Environmental Studies in the Department of Environmental Studies and Sciences to begin Fall 2014. We are looking for an interdisciplinary teacher and scholar whose work addresses environmental issues from a social science perspective. We seek someone who specializes in one of the following: the culture of sustainable agriculture and food systems, environmental justice, community organizing, or sustainable planning/design. The successful candidate will play a key role in enhancing the social sciences curriculum within the department. She or he should have strong interests and/or experience in integrative and experiential education. The candidate will be expected to teach in the college’s new integrative core curriculum, as well as introductory and upper-level required or elective courses in environmental studies/science. Read more

Fortnightly Feast – vol 13

Job Post:
ALUS is hiring a Business Development & Research Coordinator to support the development of a national ALUS business model.  This position is ideal for an individual with a background in business and an interest in sustainable agriculture, ecosystem services and valuation, and the role of business in environmental sustainability. For more information, contact Lynn Bishop, Ontario ALUS – General Manager: lbishop@deltawaterfowl.org

Food and Healthcare: Does Local Fit?
Co-hosted by the College of Management at the University of Guelph, My Sustainable Canada, and the Agri-Food and Rural Link, this symposium will be held in the OMAF Conference Centre in Guelph, Ontario on Friday, September 13th, 2013 from 9:00 am -1:00 pm.

Research Highlights:
Exploring the Feasibility and Benefits of Incorporating Local Foods into Ontario’s Health Care System
The project’s objectives were to establish the current state of food provision in Ontario’s health care system and to gain an in-depth understanding of the opportunities and constraints impacting food provision decisions in Ontario’s health care system. Read more

Organization: Community Wealth
Authors Erin Hagan and Victor Rubin argue that new grocery stores, corner stores, farmer’s markets, and other food retailers generate significant economic activity in all communities, and specifically in low-income communities. Read more

Sugar beet industry converts to 100% GMO, disallows non-GMO option
The US sugar beet industry coordinated an industry-wide conversion to genetically modified sugar beets, thus eliminating a non-GMO alternative for food manufacturers and consumers. Read more

More Releases from the Holland Marsh:

Moving Farming Forward
https://vimeo.com/channels/561377
Bonus Video:
http://www.king.ca/Business/Pages/GoldinKingTownship.aspx

Adapting for the Future
https://vimeo.com/channels/561381

Holland Marsh Soupfest
https://vimeo.com/71869053

The Land Our Precious Resource

 

Cultivating Opportunities: Canada’s Growing Appetite for Local Food
The Conference Board of Canada offers a report that “examines the economic impact of local food systems in Canada and the challenges and opportunities local food poses for consumers, governments, and industry”. Read more