Local & Sustainable & Business

Diverse sessions explored the challenges and innovative practices across Canada that are part of the effort to re-establish local and sustainable food systems and enterprises. From co-ops to new farmers, from genetic engineering to fisheries, the material below gives a taste of the many innovative and determine initiatives across Canada.

The third annual Local Sustainable Food Systems Network meeting took place immediately preceding the Assembly. Attendees were able to strengthen existing relationships and forge new ones around shared issues and opportunities. The two day meeting provided time for Working Groups to advance their respective efforts and for plenary sessions that drew on expertise both within and external to the Network to build our individual and collective capacity. Despite its broad mandate, Network members readily find common cause, fostering joint initiatives that advance sustainable food systems programs and policy across the country.

 


NOTES OF THE SESSIONS
These notes were taken by volunteers and are not for citation.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

The ABCs of GMOs
Food Hubs – connecting producers with eaters across the value chain

Maximizing Return on Investments for Small-scale Processing Facilities
Turning an Urban Homestead into an Integrated and  Sustainable Social Enterprise
Waves of Change: Talking Sustainability Outside the Bubble
New Farmer Roundtable: Growing a Future for Canadian Agriculture - Part 1
New Farmer Roundtable: Growing a Future for Canadian Agriculture – Part 2
Food Co-operatives as Significant System Change Makers
Food service management innovators
Sowing Seeds of Survival: Food Security Starts with Seed Security
Exploring the issue of "value" in sustainable fisheries


The ABCs of GMOs

Participatory Workshop - Presenters: Eric Chaurette, Inter Pares; Lucy Sharratt, Cdn Biotech Action Network; Thibault Rehn, Vigilance OGM; Taarini Chopra, Cdn Biotech Action Network.

This workshop provided basic information on genetic engineering/ genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and discussed some of the critical problems these pose. The workshop began by explaining the origin of this technology, and its current application and use today. Through participatory methods, we explored the main arguments used by industry, and together, how-to build an effective counter-critique. This includes addressing claims of higher yields, environmental and food safety, and feeding the world. By the end of the workshop, participants should have a good command of what genetic engineering is, and why it poses a serious threat to healthy and resilient food systems.

Notes of the session


Food Hubs – connecting producers with eaters across the value chain

Panel - Presenters: Justin Cantafio & Dave Adler, Off the Hook; Sally Miller, the Food Hub Project; Mathieu D’Astous, Really Local Harvest / La Récolte de Chez Nous; Franco Naccarato, Greenbelt Fund; Daniel Kanu, Food Matters Manitoba; Moe Garahan, Ottawa Food Hub; Peggy Bailie, Eat Local Sudbury

Food Hubs have emerged as an effective tool in rebuilding local food systems, integrating a values-based approach with a commitment to both a place and to its food producers. Across Canada, hubs are aggregating product and distributing it to a range of markets, addressing shared challenges of packaging, marketing, standards, volume and access. Food hub leaders from across Canada shared stories of their successes and challenges, from start up to expansion, from seafood to ground crops, with funding and regulations. Session Presenters included food hub innovators from across the country and active participation from session attendees was encouraged.

Notes of the session


Maximizing Return on Investments for Small-scale Processing Facilities

Participatory Workshop - Presenters:  Jenna Stoner, Living Oceans Society; Rita Hansen Sterne, University of Guelph; Mike Bishop, Owner, Helen B’s Preserves; Thomas Barlow, Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers

Processing is often a bottle neck in local food supply chains. As such there are a growing number of small-scale processing plants popping up, but they have been met with their fair share of challenges, one of which is how to effectively manage having infrastructure in place for food processing in the face of seasonal product availability. In this session, a diverse group shared first-hand experiences of food processing from both land and aquatic food systems and engaged in a brainstorm discussion to explore innovative ideas/models that could maximize the return on investments in small-scale processing facilities.

Notes of the session


Turning an Urban Homestead into an Integrated and  Sustainable Social Enterprise

Participatory Workshop - Presenters:  Phil Ferraro, Institute for Bioregional Studies Ltd.

Phil Ferraro is a pioneer in organic agriculture. In the 1980s he started Shades of Harmony Farm, one of the first certified organic farms in Atlantic Canada. In 1995, he founded the Institute for Bioregional Studies and began teaching social ecology, permaculture and making the transition to organic agriculture. By demonstrating how aquaponics, LED grow lights, edible landscaping, community gardens and social enterprise can be integrated into a sustainable model that fosters food self-reliance and local economy, this presentation demonstrated how visionary ideals can be transformed into practical and sustainable social enterprises.

Notes of the session


Waves of Change: Talking Sustainability Outside the Bubble

Participatory Workshop - Presenters:  Jodi Koberinski, Organic Council of Ontario  ; Kathleen Charpentier, NFU; Vandana Shiva, Navdanya

This workshop allowed participants to explore strategies for addressing underlying beliefs and systems of thinking that make conversations about sustaining food production and earth democracy challenging.
We have found over years of advocacy, entrepreneurship and organizing that how we talk about sustaining food production is crucial to the outcome of our engagement efforts. Whatever the audience, understanding who we are speaking with and how they view the world informs our communications strategies.
Participants left better equipped to have difficult conversations with decision makers and opinion shapers about sustaining food production, and better equipped to build engagement in our movement.

Notes of the session


New Farmer Roundtable: Growing a Future for Canadian Agriculture - Part 1

Participatory Workshop - Presenters: Anne-Marie Royal, Terre de Liens; Paul Lecomte , FIRA - Fonds d'investissement pour la releve agricole, Severine von Tscharner Fleming, The Greenhorns/Agrarian Trust;
Facillitators:  Abra Brynne, Food Secure Canada; Christie Young - FarmStart

Canada’s farmers are aging rapidly and there are significant barriers affecting new entrants to agriculture, from land access to financial concerns. Across the country many organizations are working to encourage a  new generation of farmers, but there is a need to create a unified network of support to advance their shared goals and services. Building on the 2012 FSC New Farmer Roundtable, these two sessions reconnected new farmer leaders to expand the national knowledge base of needs and opportunities for new farmers and provided thoughtful inspiration and guidance for new regional developments. The first session consisted of presentations from key Canadian and international stakeholders who are working to build a new generation of farmers through innovative land access, financing and training models.

Notes of the session


New Farmer Roundtable: Growing a Future for Canadian Agriculture – Part 2
Participatory Workshop - Presenters: Sophie Ackoff, National Young Farmers Coalition; Dana Penrice - C&E Meats (Alberta/Prairies); Genevieve Grossenbacher - Our Little Farm (QC); Kim Rapati - Territorial Farmers' Association (NorthWest Territories); Lucia Stephen - ACORN/Grow A Farmer (Atlantic); Margaret Graves - FarmStart (ON); Sridharan Sethuratnam - FarmStart (ON); Virginie Lavallée-Picard - NFU Youth (B.C.)

The second part of the New Farmer Roundtable created the opportunity for information sharing on new farmer initiatives across Canada. Speakers shared their practical experience on organising and advocacy at a national level and representatives from across Canada spoke about new farmer barriers in their regions. Following the 90-minute Part 2 session, interested participants shifted into breakout groups to dive more deeply into strategic policy and program opportunities that would benefit from a national collaborative effort. The Roundtable sessions will help to determine the nature of a national network focused on policy advocacy, identifying priority areas for future resource development, and setting direction for this new initiative.

Notes of the session


Food Co-operatives as Significant System Change Makers

Panel Presentation(s) - Presenters:  Hannah Renglich, Local Organic Food Co-ops Network and West End Food ‘Co-op’; Devorah Belinsky, Ottawa Valley Food ‘Co-op’ and Sustain Ontario; Jocelyn Carver, Kootenay Country Store Cooperative and Upper Columbia Cooperative Council; Peggy Baillie, Eat Local Sudbury ‘Co-op’.

Food co-operatives provide unique opportunities for producers and consumers to have flexible, adaptable collaborative relationships which meet a wide variety of needs and provide solutions to barriers that hamper our local food systems from becoming mainstream. As co-ops become efficient and effective aggregators and distributors of local sustainable food, they provide democratic and place-based alternatives at all levels of the food chain. Our panel of speakers shared their experiences of co-operative food enterprise, highlighting the transformational role co-ops have played within their communities and the food system.

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Food service management innovators

Panel - Presenters: Joshna Maharaj, Director of Food Services & Executive Chef, Ryerson University; Rachel Schofield Martin, District scolaire francophone Sud; Rachel Allain, Réseau des cafétérias communautaires; Mathieu D’Astous, Récolte de Chez Nous

What are the results when food service management prioritizes procurement of local and sustainable foods? Hear about two efforts to rebuild food service focused on local – one with a corporate partner and the other operating as a social enterprise. After working to increase local food at several hospitals in Toronto, Joshna Maharaj started in 2013 to transform the food on campus at Ryerson University. «Le réseau des cafétérias communautaires» is a non-profit organization that provides students healthy meals in 25 school cafeterias in southeastern New Brunswick and most of their local food procurement is done through a farmers’ cooperative.

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Sowing Seeds of Survival: Food Security Starts with Seed Security

Panel Presentation(s) - Presenters: Faris Ahmed and USC Canada Team

This workshop put the issue of seed diversity and seed security front and centre in the thinking around resilient food systems and policy that favours food sovereignty.  Speakers featured innovative seed work both in Canada and in the global South, as well as lessons we can learn from each other.

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Exploring the issues of "value" in sustainable fisheries

Workshop - Presenters: Melanie Newell and Alen Newell, Chedabucto Bay Sustainable Fisheries Incorporated. Amanda Barney, Ecotrust Canada; Jim McIsaac, TBuck Suzuki. Moderator: Justin Cantafio, Ecology Action Centre.

Hear about the issues in defining "value" in both East and West coast sustainable fisheries work. Chedabucto Bay trap-caught shrimp have been harvested in Nova Scotia for 20 years using low impact fishing methods to ensure sustainability and quality and now need to develop a more sustainable market for their unique product. Participants also heard about the documentation of the full suite of values, from economic to intangible, that wild capture commercial fishing brings to communities in Canada’s Pacific North Coast Integrated Management Area (PNCIMA). The moderator from the Ecology Action Centre introduced the session with highlights of their work with a Community Supported Fishery and regional value chains to support small-scale fisheries.

Notes of the session