Post-doctoral fellow, Geography/Environmental Studies, Wilfrid Laurier University
In seeking to help address the question about what is distinctive about “alternative” food networks and “food hubs” in particular, this paper explores the strengths and limitations of using concept-mapping software to illustrate the organizational structures of community-based food projects in Ontario. As part of a larger research project, the authors developed concept maps that illustrate inputs, activities and assets, as well as different types of resources (public, private, citizen, etc.). This paper focuses on the benefits and challenges of choosing to share research results with the use of a visual tool, including the benefits of the process of our mapping exercise for the research team, for the research participants, and for dialogue among them all. Challenges include the difficulties of balancing nuance and uniformity, as well as complexity and simplicity, while visually representing networks that often blur the lines between governmental, public, non-profit, cooperative, multi-stakeholder and private.
Keywords: concept map; alternative food network; food hub; hybridity