Place-Based Food Systems Conference: Making the Case, Making it Happen. August 9-10th, 2018

Place-Based Food Systems 2018:  Making the Case, Making it Happen

Metro Vancouver, August 9-10th, 2018
Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Richmond, BC

A two-day conference will draw together scholars and community leaders to share the latest research and actions, building capacity for place-based food systems. Participants will leave fortified with knowledge and understanding of the latest and best work making the case for place-based food systems, as well as innovative practices putting place-based food systems into action. The event aims to give participants an empowering vision of the critical role that place-based food systems can and will play in achieving our sustainable economic, ecological, and societal futures, as well as a revitalized dedication to strategic, collaborative, and forceful strategies moving forward.

The conference is being convened by Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU), in Richmond BC. “We absolutely need a food system that is about growing wholesome, nutritious food for people. And we need a food system that is configured and operates for the benefit of people and communities as opposed to the coffers of transnational corporations,” says Dr. Kent Mullinix, Director of the Institute for Sustainable Food Systems at KPU and conference co-organizer. “This conference is about bringing together researchers and practitioners to advance that critical vision.”

Farm workers washing freshly picked carrots.
Students at the Tsawwassen Farm School (TFS) prepare harvest for CSA boxes. Produce from the TFS will be on the menu at Place-Based Food Systems. Photo credit Jean-Philippe Marquis.

Conference Highlights

Keynote presentations from 8 globally recognized food systems experts will set the direction for the program, delving into the themes of food system policy economics, environmental stewardship, capacity and Indigenous food systems (see keynote descriptions below).

Individual presentations: Over 50 presentations from researchers, NGOs, community practitioners, local governments, educators and more will address the latest research and practice advancing place-based food systems.

Panels: 4 panels will explore pressing place-based food systems topics from multiple perspectives in longer session formats. Topics include Indigenous ways of teaching, the impact of food policy councils, agroecological possibilities in the Pacific Northwest and place-based food systems in China.

Project showcase: A poster display will highlight projects and programs taking place across North America and abroad.

Pre-conference Tour: Sites visits to Kwantlen Poltechnic University’s practical agricultural training programs, specializing in small-scale ecological agriculture, will highlight teaching models, key partnerships and programmatic elements of 3 different agricultural education programs in the region.

Three students standing with two large black pigs.
Teaching & research of integrated livestock systems at Tsawwassen Farm School, one of the stops of the pre- conference tour highlighting practical training programs for new farmers at the Institute for Sustainable Food Systems and Kwantlen Polytechnic University. Photo credit Jean-Philippe Marquis.

Keynote Speakers

William Rees, Professor Emeritus, School of Community and Regional Planning University of British Columbia, BC

Why Place-based Food systems?
Techno-industrial society is founded on a ‘socially constructed’ myth of perpetual economic growth propelled by the cult of efficiency, expanding trade and continuous technological progress.  But this neoliberal vision has produced an increasingly unsustainable entanglement of nations. Today, most countries are dependent on others for critical resources, including food, even as population growth and increased consumption deplete and pollute ecosystems essential for human survival.  Climate change and energy uncertainty further threaten trade-dependent populations. Future food security thus lies in greater regional self-reliance through the protection of arable land and the re-localization of both primary agriculture and food processing.

Wes Jackson, Co-Founder and President Emeritus, The Land Institute, Salina, KS

Most cultures have a story, a cosmology which addresses where they came from and what kind of thing they are. A moral code is usually attached. We now have scientifically verifiable information about our origins from the Big Bang to the present out of four primary fields: physics, chemistry, geology, and biology. Process, emergence, and top-down causation are replacing both static and reductionist thinking of the 1600s. One hopes that the new meaning, new symbols, and new insights will be helpful as we shape our minds and ways of being as we thoughtfully and seriously address the challenges facing humanity in the 21st century.

Eric-Holt Giménez, Executive Director, Food First, Oakland, CA

Though we produce 1 ½ times more than enough food for everyone, nearly a third of humanity goes hungry. The global food system also uses up 90% of the planet’s fresh water and contributes over a third of its greenhouse gases. To feed the world without destroying it, we must look at the political economy of our food—and to the social movements fighting for change.

Gail Feenstra, Deputy Director, Food systems coordinator UC Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education Program UC Davis, CA

Gail Feenstra is the Deputy Director and the Food and Society Coordinator at the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SAREP), University of California, Davis. Her research and outreach focuses on farm-to-school and farm-to-institution evaluation in California and nationally; regional food system distribution including food hubs; and supporting marketing opportunities for small and medium-sized producers.

Charlotte Coté, Associate Professor, Department of American Indian/Native American Studies, University of Washington

hishuk’ish tsawalk” – Everything is One. Revitalizing Place-Based Indigenous Food Systems through the enactment of Food Sovereignty.
This presentation examines how through the enactment of food sovereignty Indigenous peoples are revitalizing their place-based food systems by restoring and reaffirming healthy and sustainable relationships with their homelands and placing ancestral ecological knowledge at the center of these decolonization strategies.

Pauline Terbasket, Executive Director, Okanagan Nation Alliance, BC

Pauline Terbasket shares a story of ancestors once sustained by the land and an abundant fishery disrupted by settler expansion, wage economy hydro-electric dams, and large-scale agriculture that nearly ended the fishery until the Syilx Nation brought the salmon back, part of a people’s reconnecting to the land, asserting their title and rights, revitalizing, and relying on place-based foods.

Molly Anderson, William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Food Studies. Middlebury College, VA

Supply chains that provide food to the places where most people in the US and Canada shop are controlled by a shrinking number of corporations, which are degrading our democracy as well as eroding public awareness of traditional foods, foodways, and cooking skills.  Food system transformation is essential. The shape of needed change is starting to emerge—solidarity economies, coops, agroecological production—but how can we work together under a common vision?

John Ikerd, Professor Emeritus, University of Missouri, MO

John Ikerd will be providing the closing remarks by synthesizing the conference content, highlighting key messages, and presenting the next steps to advance a place-based food system.

To register:

Conference proceedings will be published in a special issue of the Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development [JAFSCD].

Sign up for the conference newsletter for more updates, deadlines etc.:

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