Tag Archives: planning

Rural Land Use Conference

Guest blog: Joel Fridman, University of Toronto

On May 14, three hundred people packed the Royal City Ballroom at the Delta Hotel in Guelph, Ontario for the Exploring Rural Land Use Conference. The conference, presented by the University of Guelph’s Institute for the Advanced Study of Food and Agricultural Policy based out of their Department of Food, Agriculture, and Resource Economics (FARE), sought to engage “the historic discussion about the role of individuals and hand of government” in enduring issues of rural land use. Members of Ontario’s agriculture, business, planning, civil society, academic and government sectors attended to take part in this discussion. The guiding questions for the day included the price of farmland in Ontario, the dominant trends in farmland use, and farmland ownership.

The day was divided into three sessions. The first morning session explored land prices, and the dominant factors affecting the farmland market. Among three speakers in this session, Marleen Van Ham, a real estate appraiser, gave “the dirt road perspective” on trends in the land market based on sales.  Among some insightful conclusions, Van Ham shared what she called “wild cards” in the land market, noting the uncertainties with respect to how wind turbines, solar farms, the greenbelt, urban sprawl, and the growing hunger of urban investment firms for rural land, will affect the land market going forward.

The second morning session focused on rural land governance, concentrating on provincial policy framework for severances, land subdivision and a core planning issue of surplus residences on rural land parcels. Sarah Willhelm, a planner in the development department of the County of Wellington, evocatively put the question to the audience: will new residential lots affect what farmers can do on the land in the future?

The final session focused on property rights. Speakers presented on the history of the Property Rights Movement in Ontario, providing a staunch reminder of the historic tensions associated with balancing private property rights with public interest in land use.

In a keynote address, Chief Robert Louie of the Westbank First Nation and Chairman of the First Nations Land Advisory Committee shared the latest news on the Framework Agreement (FA) on First Nations Land Management. The FA is a government-to-government arrangement committed to in 1996 and passed in the Federal Parliament in 1999. Through the development of Land Codes, the FA recognizes a First Nation as the legitimate Government over their lands and resources, assuming jurisdiction to make, administer, and enforce their laws. Each First Nation is responsible for developing their Land Codes. 39 First Nations are in the operational stages of the FA, while 30 are in the development stage. Daniel Millete, a strategic planner of the First Nation Lands Management Resource Centre also spoke of opportunities to meld western planning methods with indigenous land values for the betterment of planning practices and resource management in First Nation Reserves.

Overall, the conference provided a healthy discussion of pertinent issues demanding attention, and participatory engagement. With this in mind, however, sometimes absent from such discussions of trends and pressures on rural land use is the opportunity to step back and provide important context to the conversation. What kind of food system do we want, and more importantly, what kind of food system do we need? Rural lands are where our farmers grow our food, and the policies surrounding farmland use structure the kind of food system that is possible. This context for decision making will be neglected at our peril.


Presentations and slides from the conference can be accessed here (http://www.uoguelph.ca/fare/institute/presentations.html)



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

Fortnightly Feast Vol. 4

Notice Board

The call for abstracts for the 5th AESOP Conference on Sustainable Food Planning is now open. The conference will focus on innovations in urban food systems, with specific sessions on flows, land and governance.
Abstract submission deadline is June 15, 2013.

Social Innovation Pop-Up Lab, March 21, 2013 – Brantford
Finance, Farms and Food – Exploring new ways to organize and raise money for sustainable food system projects. If you are interested in some new ideas and can travel to Brant County on March 21, we encourage you to participate in this learning event. Come out to hear from a variety of organizations on how they are using new tools and approaches to raise money for sustainable food projects. Details.

Petition to Support local food & good jobs in Ontario
The Premier of Ontario has committed to re-introducing a stronger Local Food Act to support our local farmers and eaters.  We think the government can do more to create jobs in Ontario like they’ve done with sustainable energy, by supporting the fast-growing local sustainable food sector, while making the province a more awesome place.  Please sign if you agree and want more diverse local food!

draft Ontario Local Food Act, from the Canadian Environmental Law Association, with funding from the Metcalf Foundation, and building on work done by Sustain Ontario and it’s members.

Greenbelt Fund Green Papers: Volume 5
Access: Aggregating Ontario Product
Historically, farmers in Ontario have delivered their produce directly to local grocery retailers, restaurants, and institutions. This practice has largely disappeared for two reasons. First, distributors emerged as a one-stop shop for restaurants and institutions to obtain product, eliminating the need for multiple suppliers. Second, as franchises and corporate foodservice companies became more dominant, fixed contracts with select distributors to supply categories of products have become the norm. Read more

New  2nd edition of the Resource Guide for Organic Insect and Disease Management [pdf]
Brian Caldwell, Dr. Eric Sideman, Abby Seaman, Emily Brown Rosen, Dr. Tony Shelton, and Dr. Christine Smart


Partners from the Intervale Center, the Agriculture and Land-Based Training Association (ALBA) and the New Entry Sustainable Farming Project (New Entry) will discuss farmland matching programs, helping farmers access capital, and the structure and challenges of continued support for graduates.

Title: NIFTI Webinar 6 – Transitioning Farmers Off the Incubator Site
Date: Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Time: 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM EDT

Food policy councils are becoming an effective way to foster healthy food environments in communities across the country.  Join us for an in-depth examination of the successful Los Angeles Food Policy Council.

Title: Food Policy Councils: Improving Healthy Food Retail in a City
Date: Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Time: 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM EDT

Limited retail access to healthy foods affects the dietary patterns and health outcomes of many Americans.  Join us to learn how new research and evaluation practices are helping to generate innovative solutions that stimulate change in local communities.

Title: Food Access & Health Impacts: Trends and New Research
Date: Thursday, April 4, 2013
Time: 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM EDT

New to us

Australian Food Hubs Network – understandizng, promoting, experimenting with introduction of Food Hubs to Australia
The AFHN is a collaboration of individuals from diverse backgrounds, who are bound by … the vision of fair, sustainable and resilient food systems for all Australians.
We recognise the severity of the many social, ecological and economic challenges our food systems face, locally, nationally and globally. We are convinced of the urgent need for transformative changes in these systems. Read more


Could a simple green calorie label make people see nutrition-poor foods as healthier?