FSC’s Local Sustainable Food Systems Network Winds Up

Abra Brynne, the coordinator of FSC’s local and sustainable food systems network has finished her three-year contract with Food Secure Canada and is moving on to work with the BC Food Systems Network.

The Local Sustainable Food Systems Network was launched at a meeting in Caledon in early 2012 when the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation brought together grantees in its sustainable food systems program, along with relevant experts.  The Caledon meeting participants wanted to continue to connect through a formal Network (or community of practice), to be housed at Food Secure Canada. Abra Brynne, was hired as the co-ordinator in late September 2012 with a mandate to encourage collective learning and action towards building more sustainable local and regional food systems.

For the past three years, McConnell grantees and other organizations who joined the network met regularly to share learnings. Since many were in the process of creating commercial food enterprises to meet their respective food systems infrastructure needs, business training was developed and delivered through webinars and at in-person meetings. Training was also provided for policy interventions such as a workshop with Rod MacRae at the 2014 FSC Assembly. Network members also had the opportunity to draw on the wealth of expertise within the Network to learn more about sustainable fisheries, food hubs, for-profit/ non-profit collaborations, and breaking the barriers to finance for new entrant farmers and fishers. These exchanges not only deepened the understanding of particular topics but also served to break down silos, between emergency food providers and production focused actors, between fisheries and land-based food systems, and across Canada’s considerable geographical spread.

“It was powerful, informative and supportive to hear the stories, the challenges and the solutions of how different players along the food system continuum were striving to become part of our collective sustainable solution.” Abra Brynne

In many ways, the success of the Network will be measured by the depth of relationships that survive the ending of the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation’s generous support for it. The joint work that went on over the past three years, certainly deepens our understanding of the complexity of food systems change and the need for long term strategy that brings a diversity of actors to the table. Food Secure Canada will continue to work for a more local and sustainable food system, notably through its focus on food policy, procurement, our campaign for better support for new farmers, and in supporting the work of members across the country. The materials developed by the network will remain accessible on our website