The Uneven Geographies of Community Food Initiatives in Southwestern Ontario

Erin Nelson, PhD Candidate, School of Environmental Design and Rural Development, University of Guelph;

Irena Knezevic,  Postdoctoral Fellow, Participatory Action Research and Training Centre on Food Security, Mount Saint Vincent University;

Karen Landman, Associate Professor, School of Environmental Design and Rural Development, University of Guelph


Data collected in 14 southwestern Ontario counties and regional municipalities demonstrated that the development of community food initiatives is not happening uniformly across the region. Rather, some areas (notably Wellington and Norfolk counties and Waterloo Region) are home to a wide variety of projects that, in many cases, are woven together into networks and enjoy relatively broad-based support from local communities. In contrast, in other places (for example Dufferin, Elgin, and Kent counties), efforts to foster the development of alternative food systems are fewer and farther between, more fledgling in nature, and appear subject to more constraints than their counterparts in neighbouring parts of the region. This paper will explore the uneven geography of community food projects in southwestern Ontario, and discuss how the presence of social capital structured around an alternative food system vision can help expand the realm of possibility for such initiatives.

Keywords: community food initiative; social capital; southwestern Ontario

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