Barriers to the Local Food Movement: Ontario’s community food projects and the capacity for convergence

Phil Mount, Postdoctoral Fellow, Geog / Envir Studies, Wilfrid Laurier University;
Shelley Hazen, M.A., Geography, University of Guelph;
Shawna Holmes, PhD candidate, Sociology and Anthropology, University of Guelph;
Evan Fraser, Associate Professor, Geography, University of Guelph;
Tony Winson, Professor, Sociology and Anthropology, University of Guelph;
Irena Knezevic,  Postdoctoral Fellow, Food ARC, Mount Saint Vincent University;
Erin Nelson, Post-doctoral Fellow, Research Shop, University of Guelph;
Lisa Ohberg, PhD student, Geography, University of Guelph;
Peter Andree, Associate Professor, Poli Sci and Geog / Envir Studies, Carleton University;
Karen Landman, Associate Professor, School of Environmental Design and Rural Development, University of Guelph


This paper presents results from a survey of community food projects, and explores the relationships between organizational type, rationales and the barriers that prevent each from increasing the scale of their operations. Organizations were divided according to their primary rationale (e.g. rural economic development, distribution), and then subdivided –by form– as a non-profit, private business, governmental agency, or cooperative. Data from the interviews and surveys were coded using a qualitative grounded theory approach, to reveal the barriers experienced by each.

Overall, access to long-term stable income is a recurrent theme across all types of project, but income sources dramatically change how these organizations prioritize barriers. Similarly, the organization’s primary rationale and experiences influence the interpretation and approach to collaboration and education. Despite these differences, our results suggest a large degree of convergence that cuts across organizational forms and rationales, and offers a base for broader regional food system conversations.

Keywords: Local food; food hubs; food systems; regional development; distribution; access; healthy food.

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