WATERLOO – A new report by Ontario researchers documents how farmers’ markets, co-ops and other sustainable food systems strengthen the economic, environmental and social health of local communities.
After extensive consultation with the Ontario food community, the report — called Models and Best Practices for Building Sustainable Food Systems in Ontario and Beyond — will be made available to the public today through the Nourishing Ontario website: http://nourishingontario.ca/models-and-best-practices/
The report documents local initiatives that have successfully supported local food systems. A local food system is one in which sustainable food production, processing, distribution and consumption is integrated to enhance the economic, environmental and social health of a particular place.
The report tells many stories and includes insights into farmers’ markets, on-farm stores, urban farms, and the ways farmers are connecting more directly with consumers across the province. This report will help Ontarians and others identify the next steps they can take to help create their own local sustainable food systems.
“Community consultations are at the heart of this report,” said Alison Blay-Palmer, an associate professor at Wilfrid Laurier University and lead author of the Nourishing Ontario team that produced the report. “We hope that this report will be a tool for communities and policy-makers to work together to build resilient food systems, reflecting what works for where they live.”
The report draws on work by faculty and students from Wilfrid Laurier University (led by Blay-Palmer with the assistance of Phil Mount), the University of Guelph (led by Karen Landman with the assistance of Erin Nelson), Lakehead University (led by Connie Nelson and Mirella Stroink), Carleton University (led by Peter Andrée and Patricia Ballamingie), Ryerson University (led by Fiona Yeudall), York University (led Rod MacRae), the University of Toronto (led by Harriet Friedmann and Sarah Wakefield), and Mount Saint Vincent University (Irena Knezevic).
To produce the report, the Nourishing Ontario research team consulted with over 170 groups from communities across Ontario, involving stakeholders from Sudbury to Windsor to Ottawa.
The report takes the lessons learned through developing farmers’ markets, local food co-ops and other sustainable food systems across Ontario and brings them together into one document. “This is a fantastic resource for folks who are doing this work on the ground!” said Heather Hyden, organizer with the Community Farm Alliance in Kentucky.
“Our goal for this report is to support communities across the globe that want to have access to more local sustainable food,” said Blay-Palmer, “and we hope more people will learn about the pleasures of eating local. Our website nourishingontario.ca is a great place to find out about more tools, news and events about local food systems in Ontario and beyond.”
The work was funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food.