Ontario Ag Matters

Join the OMAFRA Research and Innovation Contact List!

The Research and Innovation Branch will be delivering new communication products to share knowledge and successes that result from OMAFRA’s investments in research and innovation.

ONagrimattersOur products will highlight partners’ successes, funding opportunities, events and resources and information specific to:
  • Agricultural and Rural Policy
  • Bioeconomy – Industrial uses
  • Environmental Sustainability
  • Emergency Management
  • Food for Health
  • Products and Value Chains
  • Production Systems (Plants, Animals)
  • Innovation and Commercialization
  • Knowledge Translation and Transfer

We invite you to sign up to receive content suited to your interests and we’re excited to share news, events and opportunities focused on Ontario agriculture, agri-food and agri-product sectors. You will only receive the above listed products if you sign up.

Please contact research.omafra@ontario.ca

#onagrimatters

Scaling Up

The Convergence of Social Economy and Sustainability

When citizens take collaborative action to meet the needs of their community, they are participating in the social economy. Co-operatives, community-based social services, local non-profit organizations, and charitable foundations are all examples of social economies that emphasize mutual benefit rather than the accumulation of profit. While such groups often participate in market-based activities to achieve their goals, they also pose an alternative to the capitalist market economy. Contributors to Scaling Up investigated innovative social economies in British Columbia and Alberta and discovered that achieving a social good through collective, grassroots enterprise resulted in a sustainable way of satisfying human needs that was also, by extension, environmentally responsible.

Read more

Global & Local Agro-food Systems

resilience, sustainability or transformation?

Join the Guelph Food Researchers Group on December 5th, 2-4pm, Hutt Building room 234 on the campus of the University of Guelph, for a panel featuring Dr. Manish Raizada with the Plant Agriculture Department; Brendan Johnson, who works with numerous NGO’s on food systems including Everdale Farm and the Guelph Neighborhood Support Coalition; and Tony McQuail who heads Meeting Place Organic Farm and is a longtime practitioner of holistic farming.

Through these speakers, we will get an better understanding of what resilient and/or sustainable farming practice looks like within different contexts, and how resilience and sustainability can be achieved within particular agro-ecosystems. Finally, we want to ask whether resilience and sustainability are still useful terms for understanding agro-ecosystems.

Upcoming Webinars and Webcasts

Nutrition and Sustainability: A Long-term Vision for Effective Strategies

Tuesday, 12 November 2013, from 09.00 to 18.00 in FAO Headquarters in Rome

3:00 a.m. to 12:00 EST (See agenda for details)

FAO, the UN Standing Committee on Nutrition (UNSCN), Bioversity International, and the governments of Malawi and Flanders are co-organizing a seminar to explore practical approaches and solutions to nutrition and sustainability.  The seminar will bring together around 300 scientists, policy makers, experts, students and practitioners to develop responses to countries’ requests about “why?” and “how?” to link nutrition and sustainability, and to discuss the trade offs. Outcomes of this one-day seminar will also feed into the discussions of the ICN2 Preparatory Technical Meeting<http://www.fao.org/food/nutritional-policies-strategies/icn2/en> (13-15 November 2013).

For more details: http://www.unscn.org/en/nutrition_and_climate_change/nutrition_and_sustainability_seminar_12_november.php

 

Is Sustainability Still Possible?

Webinar To Explore Sustainability Vs. “Sustainababble” And The Road Ahead

Wednesday, November 13, 2013, 2:00 p.m. EST (11 a.m. PST)
The word “sustainable” is increasingly difficult to distinguish between “sustainababble,” with growsing false claims confusing our understanding of what sustainability truly entails. This webinar, based on the 2013 edition of the Worldwatch Institute’s flagship annual report, State of the World (subtitled: Is Sustainability Still Possible?), will help participants to better distinguish between sustainability and sustainababble, discuss the scientific foundations of sustainability, explore how to create a truly sustainable human society, and if that is no longer possible, how to prepare ourselves for the turbulent transition ahead.
Featuring commentary by: Erik Assadourian, Senior Fellow, Robert Engelman, President, Worldwatch Institute
Click here to register.

 

How to Feed 9 Billion on a Small Planet

JOIN THE CONVERSATION
Tuesday, November 19, 2013 from 12-2 pm EST
Across Canada via webcast

USC Canada:  On November 19th, Miguel Altieri (University of California, Berkeley) – a world leading authority on agroecology – will speak on ecological agriculture as a key solution to food insecurity, hunger, and climate change. He’ll be joined by panelists:

Jean-Martin Fortier, farmer and author of The Market Gardener,
Sarah Archibald, Campus Food Systems Project Coordinator, and
Henry Lickers, Environmental Science Officer, Mohawk Council of Akwesasne.
Bob Carty, former top CBC radio journalist, will moderate the webcast.

REGISTER
To register for the webcast or to organize a private or public screening, go to: usc-canada.org/feedingtheworld.

Ontario’s Environmental Farm Plan and Consumer Sustainability Demands

Guest Blog from Ralph Martin,
Professor and Loblaw Chair, Sustainable Food Production
Department of Plant Agriculture, University of Guelph

Consumers are increasingly asking for more information, not only about location of food production, but also about how food is grown on a given farm. It can be difficult for food processors and retailers to verify that food has been sustainably produced. However, farmers who are busy with current management details are not keen to add more record keeping and verification protocols to their to-do list. Nevertheless, many farmers in Ontario are already engaged in the Environmental Farm Plan (EFP) and there are opportunities for the EFP to help them show processors and retailers what they are doing. Although the EFP has not been audited by a third party, there are opportunities for it to be upgraded and audited for farmers that determine it will be cost effective for them to pay for such a service to establish market differentiation of their products. The EFP is well known and voluntarily applied on farms in Ontario, unlike more rigorous verification programs in other countries that have very low adoption rates.

For more details, see Potential Role of the Ontario Environmental Farm Plan in Responding to Sustainability Demands of the Agri-food Supply Chain, by Claudia Schmidt, Janalee Sweetland and Al Mussell of the George Morris Centre.  [1.6 MB pdf]

Fortnightly Feast – Vol. 5

In Ontario, Food Charters Abound

Last chance to endorse the Waterloo Region Food Charter!

York Region develops food charter
The York Region Food Charter is a vision of thriving urban and rural communities in which residents, businesses and governments are creating a resilient food system… Read more

Savour Muskoka charter to grow local food system

Food News

Environmental Commissioner of Ontario calls for province to invest in soil (and sustainability) through “bold action”

Importance of Sustainability Growing for Food Industry
… while a vast majority of companies believe sustainability to be increasingly important – 82 per cent of companies surveyed – only 19 per cent monitored the sustainability of the products they sourced. … Key drivers for addressing sustainability are meeting customer demand – 48 per cent – and saving the company money – 40 per cent.
While cost effectiveness is important, 67 per cent of respondents agreed that if they were in charge of procurement for their company, they would pay a premium for sustainably produced food or ingredients (emphasis added). Read More

A new resource for Food Systems and Food Innovation Districts
A food innovation district is a geographic concentration of food-oriented business, services, and community actiivities that are supported locally through planning and economic development initiatives. These districts can promote positive business environments, spur regional food system development, and increase access to local food. Read more

Get the guidebook Food Innovation Districts: An Economic Gardening Tool

Kwantlen Polytechnic U’s Sustainable Food Systems Working Group receives $50,000 donation from Vancity
(Metro Vancouver, BC) – On March 13, 2013, Vancity presented Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) with a $50,000 donation to the Sustainable Food Systems Working Group in support of their economic and community development study. Read more
…and a related story:
Towards a More Bioregional Food System

Funding for Local Food Initiatives
As they head into their third season, Fresh City Farms is kicking it into high gear!  Over the past two months, they’ve been using Kickstarter, a unique funding platform, to raise awareness of their formidable urban farming initiatives and resources to grow their infrastructure city-wide. Read more

Eating tomorrow – rethinking the world food system 
ETH Sustainability / World Food System Summer School (July 2012)

Save Food Newsletter, FAO

Media Food Fights: Feeding the world

God made a Farmer… but Dodge RAM channeled the Dominant Food Narrative

But Can We Feed the World?

The Domino’s Effect

When Did Healthy Food Become a Luxury Product?

Bill Gates Sees Veggie Burgers in Your Future