Local & Sustainable Food Systems Network News

Members of the Local & Sustainable Food Systems Network tend to be doers – engaging actively in the work of re-creating vibrant, place-based food systems. 
Working groups have begun emerging where there is a critical mass of people interested in a particular facet of food systems work. Two of these groups held their first meeting in January, coming together via teleconference to learn about each other’s initiatives, to exchange information and to commit to future encounters. 
The Food Hubs Working Group met on January 15th and will reconvene on March 19th. In between teleconferences, the Food Hubs Working Group can carry on the conversation via FSC’s discussion page devoted to the topic. The January meeting made it clear that there is a lot of activity underway across Canada to establish food hubs as a way of making local food more broadly available. More information about the Food Hubs Working Group can be found here
A smaller group also met in January by teleconference, this time focused on sustainable fisheries. Sustainable fisheries provide an important source of protein in our diets and are a vital part of coastal economies, yet they are frequently not incorporated into the broader food movement discourse. The complexities of sustainable land-based food systems are mirrored in water-based food systems with some distinct differences. The intent of this Working Group is to determine the most effective means to integrate sustainable fisheries into the work of the food movement, with the goal of enabling mutually beneficial exchanges of information and of collaborating on program and policy needs where appropriate.  Our Assembly in November in Halifax will provide an excellent opportunity to do this. This group also meets every two months. Anyone interested in joining the Sustainable Fisheries Working Group should contact the Network Co-ordinator, Abra Brynne.
Sustainable food systems initiatives tend to engage with smaller-scale enterprises for a variety of reasons. Many embrace, at a minimum, a triple bottom line, seeking to align their business goals with those that lead to vibrant, healthy communities. In various locations across Canada, members of the Network are engaged in co-operatives , as an effective way to develop profitable food enterprises while still prioritizing the needs of the community.
The recent 5th Annual Assembly of the Local Organic Food Co-ops Network in Ontario provided an opportunity for these progressive co-operatives to come together, celebrate their successes and exchange information. The Local & Sustainable Food Systems Network Co-ordinator, Abra Brynne, spoke at the Assembly’s opening session on permaculture economics and co-operatives, and later led a discussion about how co-operatives are reconciling the need for food producers to make a viable living with the need to provide access to good food for the impoverished amongst us.