Fortnightly Feast

Bring Food Home: Digging Deeper

This fall, Sudbury will be buzzing with sustainable, healthy food and farming advocates, innovators, and decision-makers gathering for Bring Food Home: Digging Deeper, based at the Sudbury Radisson Hotel on November 20-22, 2015. Sustain Ontario is pleased to announce that Early Bird conference registration is now open, along with tickets for the popular Feast of Local Flavours. Read more

Community Food Projects Indicators of Success FY 2014

The Community Food Projects Indicators of Success FY 2014 report illustrates the collective impact of Community Food Project grantees from FY 2014 based on the metrics from Whole Measures for Community Food Systems. It includes metrics from the 6 areas of impact from Whole Measures: Healthy People, Strong Communities, Thriving Local Economies, Sustainable Ecosystems, Vibrant Farms and Gardens and Fairness and Justice. Read more

Agroecology as a Tool for Liberation: An interview with Miguel Ramirez, National Coordinator of the Organic Agriculture Movement of El Salvador

We say that every square meter of land that is worked with agro-ecology is a liberated square meter. We see it as a tool to transform farmers’ social and economic conditions. We see it as a tool of liberation from the unsustainable capitalist agricultural model that oppresses farmers. Read more

Lessons from the Field: A New Series for Food Hub Development

Since 2009, USDA has invested in 29,100 local food opportunities, including food hubs, small scale processing and farmers markets across all 50 states and the US territories. These investments include over 12,000 loans and micro-loans to small-scale producers who often sell products locally and over 13,000 high tunnels (low-cost covered structures that extend the growing season and make locally-grown products available later in the year). Read more

Running a Food Hub

IN RECENT YEARS, several surveys—including the 2013 National Food Hub Survey1 and the Food Hub Benchmarking Study2—have collected data on U.S. food hubs. What seems to be lacking from the current research on food hubs is information on operations and “lessons learned” from those involved in starting and operating food hubs. Read more

ClearWater at the Reed Farm

Georgina, June 25, 2015 – Council’s unanimous decision last night to lease a portion of the Reed Farm at Willow Beach to the Ontario Water Centre is the latest initiative towards a more prosperous Georgina.

The Centre will rechristen eight acres of the Town-owned property (including the historic homestead) as the “ClearWater Farm”. ClearWater will be a community-based social enterprise to stimulate jobs and the local economy, provide affordable learning opportunities, demonstrate water-wise techniques, and celebrate “field to fork” culinary arts. Read more

 

A Day full of Promise for Ontario’s Small-Flock Growers and Supply Management Programs

(Artisanal Chicken Ranch, Part I)

After years of pressure from independent small-flock chicken farmers, as well as from NFU, PFO, Sustain Ontario, and Eat Local Sudbury, and after province-wide consultations on what to do with new growth opportunities, Chicken Farmers of Ontario has crafted a potentially marvellous new Artisanal Chicken Policy (pdf 276 kB), and released it yesterday.

CFO to grow local food communities with new ‘Artisanal Chicken’ program launch

BURLINGTON, ON – July 28, 2015 – Chicken Farmers of Ontario (CFO) has announced a portfolio of new programs that will support expanded business opportunities for chicken farmers and offer Ontario consumers even more choice in accessing locally grown, high quality chicken. The new business opportunities were developed following the recent farmer, public and industry ‘Allocating Growth’ consultations, and includes an ‘Artisanal Chicken’ program which will appeal to smaller, independent, family farmers looking to meet local markets. Read more

This means the former Small Flock Exemption policy —which remains at 300— is now the Family Food Program, language that will more clearly align with the intent of the exemption: on-farm consumption or farm-gate sales.

The Artisanal Chicken Program on the other hand “…is directed at those farmers who are interested in growing between 600 and 3,000 chickens annually for select target markets such as local farmer markets.”

The closing date for submissions for 2016 Applications is September 4, 2015.

CFO will also be creating a quota-based Local Niche Markets program for those wishing to graduate from the Artisinal Program “to support those larger niche or regional markets of 6,000 chickens or more per year”.

Gary Larson, 1983… And as with any such program, the devil will be in the details. There are already questions about the fine print—like how will “traditional methods” fly with On-Farm Food Safety Assurance and Animal Care Programs, to provide mutually acceptable, appropriate and complementary levels of on-farm safety, security and viability?

The dust has yet to settle on this newly released policy. Hopefully, we will have some answers to relay in Artisanal Chicken Ranch Part II…

Key Food System Roles in Ontario

Director, Sustain Ontario

Sustain Ontario, a project of Tides Canada Initiatives (TCI), is looking for an inspiring, experienced and dedicated individual to fill the position of Director. The successful candidate is someone who can articulate the long-term outcomes for healthy food and farming in Ontario, and move Sustain Ontario toward those long-term goals. They are passionate about the work and have a proven track record of leadership, including the ability to guide and motivate teams comprising people of diverse backgrounds and experience.

Sustain Ontario faces a turning point in its life cycle and is looking for a dynamic individual who can lead the organization through the changes. A planning exercise has developed a Three Year Strategic Plan and Sustain Ontario is looking for a person who can take this plan, find funding to carry it out, and continue to innovate and support actors within the food system in Ontario. Read more

Knowledge Exchange Coordinator, CFCC

Community Food Centres Canada (CFCC) is looking for a Knowledge Exchange Coordinator to play an important role in supporting knowledge dissemination and exchange activities between CFCC and its partner Community Food Centres, member Good Food Organizations, and the broader community interested in learning about the best practices and issues around CFCs and other grassroots food programs.
Read more

Municipal Elections and Food Policy

With municipal elections happening across Ontario on October 27, it is once again time to reflect on the importance of municipal politics and policy to regional food systems transformation.

Results are in from the province-wide Vote ON Food & Farming municipal election campaign, coordinated by Sustain Ontario:

Wellington / Guelph

(Guelph-Wellington Food Round Table)
More than 1/3 of the responses province-wide came from 75 candidates in Guelph and Wellington municipalities! This included surveys from 14 mayoral candidates, 43 councillors and 18 trustees — and, as mentioned in our letters to the Guelph Mercury and Wellington Advertiser, thoughtful responses from many, and near-unanimous support for a Regional Food Strategy.
Read more

Thunder Bay All Candidates Survey

(Thunder Bay Food Strategy)
Municipalities make a range of decisions that influence people’s ability to access food, the viability of food and farming businesses, and the environmental impacts of our food system. The Thunder Bay and Area Food Strategy sent 3 questions to candidates in the upcoming municipal elections, seeking their commitment to improving access to healthy food for all, protecting food producing areas, and supporting food and farm businesses.
Read more

Good Food for All

(Ottawa Food Policy Council)
There is a growing shift towards Good Food For All in our schools, in our hospitals, in our food banks, in our grocery stores, in our neighbourhoods and in our rural and urban communities. Food is a central part of the health and well-being of our communities.
What is Good Food?
Fresh; culturally relevant; accessible; minimally-processed; affordable; as local as possible.
Read more

More from Vote on Food and Farming

Rationales and Best Practices

We believe that resilient food systems can meet many important policy objectives beyond simple food production — economic (e.g. good jobs and economic growth), environmental (e.g. soil health and clean water) and social (e.g. food access and food literacy). The process of building these systems can also lead to greater community development and engagement, as it requires enhanced collaboration by many different actors — government, industry, academia, civil society groups and citizens.
Read more

Collaborating On Food: An Interview With Wayne Roberts

…People understood about the connection between food and collaboration from the earliest days of cities. Think of words such as companion, company and companero. They come from the Latin combination of with (com) and pane (bread). Even the word “trivia”, my favourite, comes from the fact that early farmers markets were set up at the intersection of three (tri) roads (via). And when people got together, they were so excited and chatty, they talked about what authorities considered trivia, but was probably just a put-down of popular collaboration.

Read more

 

Fortnightly Feast

Growing Food Connections food policy database to help communities strengthen food systems

Municipalities and counties got a big boost today with the unveiling of a searchable database with more than 100 newly adopted innovative, local government food system policies that can be shared and adapted across the country. The Growing Food Connections Policy Database, hosted by the School of Architecture and Planning at the University at Buffalo, will assist local governments as they work to broaden access to healthy food and help sustain local farms and food producers.

Growing Food Connections, a federally-funded research initiative to strengthen community food systems nationwide, has compiled over 100 policies governing issues as diverse as public investment in food systems, farmland protection, local food procurement and food policy council resolutions. The database is a comprehensive catalog of enacted food policy. By drawing upon partner resources and networks, the database provides a vast resource of policies that have been implemented and are currently being used by communities. Furthermore, it provides inspiration for communities looking to start building their own food policy. Read more

Candidates weighing in on food and farming

Guelph Mercury, October 21, 2014

Earlier this month, the Guelph Wellington Food Round Table — in collaboration with Sustain Ontario — asked all of the candidates for trustee, councillor and mayor to participate in the Vote on Food and Farming survey. Because food and farming touch so many important areas of our lives, and shape our regional character, economy, culture, and communities, the survey has six broad questions related to the economy, health, the environment, access, education and collaboration — along with key actions that will shape the future of food and farming in this region.

A week after sending out the survey, we have had responses from 26 of the 44 “active” races (not acclaimed) from all eight municipalities in Wellington; from every ward in Guelph; and from 10 mayoral candidates (including four in Guelph). This is the most active and engaged regional response in the province. Read more

Keeping it Local with Nick Weir of Stroudco Foodhub

Stroud Life, October 20, 2014
ONE of Stroudco’s largest suppliers is Stroud Community Agriculture (SCA) which farms 23 acres of land around Hawkwood College overlooking Stroud. SCA was established 14 years ago by a group of volunteers who wanted to provide an alternative to the supermarket system by building a direct connection between the people growing the food and the people eating it. They started off by growing vegetables on less than one acre and sharing produce amongst the small group of supporters who set up the farm community. SCA is now a thriving, community-run social enterprise with over 230 household members around Stroud who collectively pay all the costs of the farm including the wages of three full time farmers. In return the SCA members receive a weekly share of the produce harvested from the farm. Read more

Eat Local Sudbury working to offer more local food in region

Local food hub to offer food to other parts of northeastern Ontario
CBC October 14, 2014
Eat Local Sudbury is in the process of developing a business plan to expand its local food hub to other areas in northeastern Ontario. The new areas to have service include LaCloche-Manitoulin, North Bay, Temiskaming, Muskoka and parts of Algoma. According to Eat Local, a local food hub helps with the collection, storage, processing and distribution of local food.
The plan, called the Eat Local Sudbury Food Hub Business Plan project, is moving forward after the co-op received $17,200 from the province’s Greenbelt Fund. The Managing Director of Eat Local Sudbury, Peggy Baillie said demand for local food continues to grow. “More and more people are gaining interest in terms of local food and wanting access to it, including institutions, schools and public health facilities. This plan is trying to address those needs.”
Read more

Food Banks Canada & RFDA deliver fresh food to First Nations

Thunder Bay’s Regional Food Distribution Association is part of a pilot project to send fresh food north
CBC October 21, 2014

A group of First Nations in northwestern Ontario is getting fresh fruits and vegetable this month, thanks to a pilot project between Food Banks Canada and the Regional Food Distribution Association. Volker Kromm is the association’s executive director. He said statistics show one in five Aboriginal people, living on reserve don’t get enough to eat, and nearly half of those people are children. Kromm said, through the partnership with Food Banks Canada, he was able to purchase $20,000 worth of fresh groceries to take to some First Nations communities that are accessible by road. He said he was transporting everything from potatoes to granola bars to cantaloupe. Read more

WEBINAR

Shared Opportunities on Institutional Lands: Challenges and opportunities of on-site food production

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 22, 3:00 – 4:30 p.m. EDT
In Ontario, several institutions are already producing food on their properties as a way to generate revenue; supply nutritious fresh food for consumption (by staff, patients, students, etc.); provide skills training and therapeutic benefits; and build social enterprises. This webinar will share how project partners at health care, social service and educational institutions went about getting gardens off the ground at their institutions, as well as some of the lessons we learned in the first year of working with pilot projects across the province. Read more

Is that all there is… to debate?

Vote on Food and Farming analysis

Many have commented since the June 3 Ontario leaders’ debate that little attention was paid to health care, which makes up about 40% of the provincial budget. Food and farming faced the same lack of attention – hardly surprising, given the six ‘representative’ questions that the media selected to guide the debate: ethics, energy, jobs, debt, transit and education.

It’s a shame that the agriculture and food debate –organized by OFA and the Alliance of Ontario Food Processors– was cancelled. This debate might have given some insight into party platforms that don’t get a lot of prime time exposure.

It’s also a shame that there wasn’t a seventh question in the televised debate, asking the leaders to explain how their earlier positions would affect the development of agriculture and food in the province – forcing them to make clear the links between education, jobs, investment, (health!) and agriculture and food policies.

On May 23rd, Sustain Ontario’s Vote on Food and Farming campaign attempted to do just that, by asking party leaders to reflect on questions covering topics as diverse as health promotion, training and cross-ministerial cooperation – as they relate to agriculture and food issues. I went through their answers with interest, looking for points of consensus as well some of the details in their proposed solutions to issues that shape our food systems.

Three parties –the LiberalsNDP and Green Party– submitted thorough responses, while the PC leader sent a form letter with three brief paragraphs about the Million Jobs Plan. As a result, the Vote on Food and Farming Report Card was full of question marks in the PC column. I hunted down the PC white papers (which can’t be accessed from their own website!) in order to fill in that picture.

And what these white papers show is that the PC Party’s agri-food platform is largely silent on many of the issues captured in the Vote on Food and Farming. This is hardly surprising for issues that the party’s current election platform prevents them from acknowledging – such as increasing social assistance to cover the cost of a nutritious food basket, or increasing the reach of the Student Nutrition Program. In other areas, the white papers’ silence reflects low priorities (at least at the time of writing) for the promotion of healthy eating; encouraging ecologically regenerative agricultural practices; protecting pollinators and their habitat; and protecting farmland.

It is also hardly surprising that, on many of these same issues, the other three parties are all pointed in the same direction, differ only in degree, and could therefore –in theory– work with each other. For example, while the Greens advocate universal approaches in student nutrition programming, guaranteed annual income, protection of class 1 farmland and neonicotinoid controls, they would be unlikely to reject Liberal or NDP policy suggestions which move in the same directions.

One set of solutions highlights interesting differences between the parties: how to get beyond the Ministry-level ‘silos’ that often discourage cross-ministerial cooperation and coordination on food issues.

  • The NDP would “develop a coordinated approach that makes sense”;
  • The PCs would “create one-window access to government for farmers and agribusinesses so they can obtain information efficiently and get one straight answer from government”;
  • The Liberals would “convene an inter-ministerial committee to engage stakeholders such as Sustain on an integrated government approach to agriculture, food, nutrition, health, and environment issues”; and
  • The Greens would convene “an Ontario Food Policy Council with stakeholders and members of the public that is ingrained within OMAF, including a representative from each party and the Premier’s Office”

While I don’t want to overstate the significance of a single statement, these replies suggest some fundamental differences in their approaches to governance.

However, differences were not the rule. In fact, all four parties agree on two issues: setting targets for public procurement purchases of local food, and realizing the Community Food Program Donation Tax Credit, which are both sections of the Local Food Act, but are not yet proclaimed. Of course, even universal agreement doesn’t guarantee action in the current legislature: all parties promised to ease the regulatory burden on small and mid-scale processors in the 2011 campaign, and are repeating that promise in this campaign – since nothing was accomplished in the interim.

Often, the reason for lack of action can be found in the details. For example, only the Greens acknowledged that setting targets for procurement of local foods would be unhelpful without also increasing the funding to hospitals and other institutions. It is often such details that turn what appears to be consensus on the campaign trail into division in the legislature.

Another example: while there is a general consensus that the province needs more regionally-based infrastructure to move local food, the Liberals are investigating whether this can be done by giving money to mainstream distributors, and the PCs are suggesting that another food terminal will do the trick. These approaches reflect a fundamental misreading of both the historical lessons of regional food processing, distribution and marketing in the province, as well as the necessary components of a sustainable, regional-scale food infrastructure.

The leaders’ debate could have provided some much-needed details on the factors that shape their parties’ food and farming policies. Before you make your decision on voting day, be sure to take a look at the Vote on Food and Farming Report Card, which provides some of those details.

Phil Mount,

Valens Ontario

Fortnightly Feast – vol. 14

EVENTS

Conference provides forum for innovative cross-sectoral approaches to food system issues facing Ontario

Sustain Ontario and its presenting partners are proud to announce the launch of registration for the 2013 Bring Food Home Conference. Taking place in Windsor, Ontario on November 17-18-19, Bring Food Home is Ontario’s sustainable food system conference. With dozens of workshops and presentations by producers, educators, chefs, poverty advocates, First Nations’ leaders, and more, the three-day conference offers a forum to share experiences and expertise in assisting and directing the development of a better food system for the province.  Read more

Planning for Food-Friendly Municipalities

The Waterloo Region Food System Roundtable is calling on Foodies in Waterloo Region to join in the work of advocating for more food-friendly municipalities in Waterloo Region. The first organizing meeting will be held Wednesday, October 2nd. It will focus on a new report by Krista Long which outlines ways to create more supportive environments for community gardens and temporary farmers’ markets in Waterloo Region.  Read More

 

IN THE NEWS

Group exploring food hub for Grey County

Grey County farmers may soon have a hub where they can drop off their product to be distributed to markets across Southern Ontario. The Grey County Chefs’ Forum is currently working on creating a food hub in southern Grey County that would link the wares of local farmers with buyers in both the Grey-Bruce region as well as those in the GTA and beyond. Sun Times, Owen Sound.
Read more

The 2013 National Food Hub Survey, conducted by MSU’s Center for Regional Food Systems and the Wallace Center at Winrock International, show that hubs throughout the United States continue to develop as financially viable businesses providing locally produced food to restaurants, schools, grocery stores and other wholesale customers. Food hubs may also provide much needed size-appropriate infrastructure and marketing opportunities for local food produced by small and midsized farms and ranches.
Read more

Further Releases from the Holland Marsh

“The autumn wind is a pirate. Blustering in from sea with rollicking song, he sweeps along swaggering boisterously. His face is weather beaten, he wears a hooded sash with a silver hat about his head . . . the autumn wind is a raider, pillaging just for fun.”
A reminder, if you will, that all good things come to an end – as will this video series, which has only one more week after this. We sincerely hope that you have enjoyed this educational series about life in Ontario’s crown jewel – the Holland Marsh.

Video clips – for this week:
Confronting Climate Change       +        Bonus Clip

Projet de loi pour les aliments locaux / Bill to Promote Local Food

On June 17, I introduced Bill C-539 in an effort to promote local foods.  The goal is to come up with a Canada-wide-buy-local strategy and to develop a local procurement policy for all federal institutions. This will help support Canadian farmers, create jobs and reduce transportation-related pollution. Read more

Sustain Ontario Upcoming Flocking Options Webinar: Supply Management 101

On Thursday, August 1st at 12 Noon (EDT) Sustain Ontario will be hosting an exciting new webinar in support of their ongoing Flocking Options campaign. Leading this thought-provoking presentation will be Christie Young, the Executive Director of FarmStart and Anne Freeman of the Greenbelt Farmers’ Market Network. Read more