Subversion by video: Communicating the values of social and informal food economies


Nourishing Communities Sustainable Local Food Systems Research Group, along with

Nicole Bedford Films, Sheba Films, Community Video Partners


More and more, food connects people who want to make their communities better places to live. Their work creates economic value, but many community leaders are more interested in the environmental and social well-being that they can foster through their actions.

The Social Economy of Food video series shows what that looks like on the ground—and how these leaders are changing their communities. In an effort to bring to life the value created by the people and initiatives making a difference in the social and informal economy , the Nourishing Communities Research Group has worked with Nicole Bedford Films and Sheba Films, along with community partners, to develop a stunning series of videos, each framed to concisely capture and deliver their specific message.

The videos run the gamut of social and informal economy activities, from urban agriculture and gleaning to seeding, harvesting and educating about manoomin (wild rice) production, colonialism and reconcilli-action. They also cover diverse settings from Atlantic Canada to Northwestern Ontario, from large urban centres to rural and remote communities.

Each video has a unique tale to tell. Click here to walk though the exhibit on your own, or browse through the back story of each, found in complementary case studies below. Be prepared to spend some time—they’re addictive!

And don’t forget to join us to see this brought to life at the conference session “The Social Economy of Food and the Power of Reconceptualization”.

The Social Economy of Food video series

Supporting Seed Saving and Farmers in Atlantic Canada

Seeds have always been at the heart of agriculture and food. Did you know that 9 out of every 10 bites of food begin with the planting of a seed? Many farmers in Atlantic Canada save and select their own seed, giving gardeners access to regionally adapted, hardy varieties, and ensuring we all have food on the table season after season. The Atlantic Canadian Organic Regional Network (ACORN) has been supporting seed saving farmers since 2013 as part of The Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security by providing opportunities to participate in training, networking, on-farm research, and conservation activities.


Community Financing is Cultivating Local Food: FarmWorks shows the way

FarmWorks is creating opportunities for Nova Scotians to support local businesses that provide food for their neighbours—right across the Province! FarmWorks Shareholder investments provide money, mentoring and support for food-related businesses in communities across Nova Scotia. As a Community Economic Development Investment Fund (CEDIF), FarmWorks offers a ‘community supported finance’ model that encourages socially responsible investment. Learn more about ‘investing in ourselves’, and how to become become an impact investor through sustainable, local, ethical investing.

Durham Integrated Growers “DIG” Community Gardens and All Forms of Urban Agriculture

Urban agriculture (the many ways of growing food in and near cities and towns) is blossoming in Durham Region, Ontario. See what DIG (Durham Integrated Growers for a Sustainable Community) does here to support local food, food security, and community development. Our work focuses not only on community gardens but also urban farms, urban orchards, home processing, commercial urban agriculture, social enterprises and supportive urban agriculture policies. Overall, “at DIG, we believe in the power of people working together to grow local food in a healthy, sustainable way.”


Hidden Harvest Ottawa has big dreams for a greener Ottawa. What are yours?

We learned a LOT about different impacts of the work we do thanks to the research done by Dr. Chloe Poitevin-DesRivières from the Laurier Centre for Sustainable Food Systems and from the many other researchers and partners from The Social Economy of Food: Informal, under-recognized contributions to Community prosperity and resilience research project.


Black Duck Wild Rice: The Resurgence of Indigenous Food Sovereignty within the Kawartha Lakes Region

Black Duck Wild Rice, located in Curve Lake First Nation is a social enterprise involved with seeding, harvesting, processing and educating about manoomin or wild rice—a traditional food of the Nishnaabe people. Black Duck Wild Rice is enacting their Indigenous rights and is working to restore Indigenous food sovereignty for their community and within their traditional territory. These steps are taken as an antidote to the impacts of settler colonialism that the Mississauga Anishinaabeg have and continue to face daily in cottage country across the Kawartha Lakes Region, the Trent Severn waterway, and particularly in contested spaces such as Pigeon Lake. The resurgence of manoomin is an important step in the process of the reconciliation.


Cloverbelt Local Food Co-op

Cloverbelt Local Food Co-op (CLFC) is a non-profit, owned and governed collectively by producers, consumers and community organizations that emerged out of Dryden, the geopolitical centre for Northwestern Ontario. Through an online ordering system, local food is currently distributed weekly through eight hub communities covering approximately 422,000 square km. Annually, CLFC hosts a number of events to encourage engagement of its members and to offer programs that build awareness of the advantages of eating and buying local.


Aroland Youth Blueberry Initiative

Aroland Youth Blueberry Initiative (AYBI) welcomes all community members (children to elders) to harvest and sell blueberries to support programs for youth. Foraging for blueberries is highly valued as a source of income, food security, tradition and as an alternative to timber extraction. Through blueberry picking, the AYBI incorporates values for the youth around identity and connection to the land. They are taught traditional knowledge that is passed down from generation to generation around how to harvest and care for the berries.


Nipigon Blueberry Blast Festival

The Nipigon Blueberry Blast Festival provides an annual opportunity during blueberry harvesting season for both tourists and local community members to pick blueberries and also engage in entertainment, food, music, and dance. Blueberry picking is part of the identity of many people in Northern Ontario as they connect with the land, and many have lifelong memories of picking berries as a child. The Blueberry Blast provides opportunities for honouring the blueberry and encouraging awareness of a locally available food source, while respecting the environment.


Willow Springs Creative Centre

Willow Springs Creative Centre is a progressive social purpose enterprise with a mission to promote growth through creative expression and community development. Programming includes art, therapeutic gardening and food programs, services and training. Professional artists, horticultural therapists, gardeners, skilled cooks and bakers are employed to deliver programs and support members.