News & Events

How to Improve Northern Ontario Food Systems: The 4 Next Steps

By Alison Earls, BA., MEDI.

Over the summer I was thrilled to work as a research assistant for Food Locally Embedded Globally Engaged (FLEdGE). I grew up in a small rural farming community food and food systems were a central part of my life from a young age, so getting the chance to study these systems, specifically infrastructure for Northern Ontario food systems, was a dream come true.

Although I have experience with local food and food systems research, I was a bit out of my comfort zone with the geography of the project, which took place in Northern Ontario. I am very familiar with the opportunities and obstacles that are available for food and farms in Southern Ontario but, at the beginning of the project, food and farming in Northern Ontario was new to me. Before starting the project, I would have said that the food systems in Northern and Southern Ontario have similar challenges and opportunities, however this is not the case. Continue reading “How to Improve Northern Ontario Food Systems: The 4 Next Steps”

Tweeters & Eaters, Hackers & Snackers: Digitally-Enabled Inspiration for the Food Movement

Introducing a new blog series by Dr. Theresa Schumilas

The digital revolution is unleashing a lot of creativity and with that, new opportunities. How is this mix of talent, enthusiasm and ingenuity being used to transform unsustainable food systems?

For the past 2 years, I’ve been exploring the ways in which sustainable food movements in Canada are engaging with new digital spaces. I’ve been studying  how emerging ‘platform economies’ and social media are opening up new possibilities for linking together and scaling up grassroots food innovation, and giving rise to  new forms of on-line activism to transform unsustainable food systems.

I feel like my work has been ‘quiet’. I have:

  • lurked in dozens of on-line spaces,
  • smirked at the disruptive clever bits,
  • been irked by the use of warm fuzzy words like clouds, like, friend, tweet, and sharing, and
  • jerked into action where the movements for digital sovereignty and food sovereignty meet.

But in all the fun, I have perhaps shirked my responsibility to share what I’ve found.

So for all you tweeters & eaters, and hackers & snackers, this is the beginning of a series of blogs, for your fermentation, about new possibilities for digitally-enabled food system change.

Continue reading “Tweeters & Eaters, Hackers & Snackers: Digitally-Enabled Inspiration for the Food Movement”

Living Territories 2018

By Florence Egal
February 2018

CIRAD, in collaboration with a variety of national and international partner institutions organized an international conference from 22 to 24 January, in Montpellier, France to showcase the importance of territories for achieving the SDGs, both locally and globally, and to set the basis for a shared agenda for research and action.

Living Territories 2018 had three objectives:

  • To disseminate and promote new research methods and scientific knowledge on territorial approaches to rural development, particularly in southern countries;
  • To showcase successful place-based innovations and projects including organizational and institutional reforms.
  • To analyze and question the conditions of success for territorial development, especially within the context of the implementation of the SDGs.

Continue reading “Living Territories 2018”

How does a farmer learn to farm? A scan of practical farmer training programs

By Laura Schreiner
February 2018

Doctors attend medical school, electricians go through apprenticeships—but how do farmers learn the practical skills of their trade? There are many different pathways into farming, but they aren’t nearly as structured—nor as well understood—as those of other occupations. In an era of aging and retiring farmers, understanding how the next generation is being trained is important, but there is very little research into it as yet.

To this end, in the summer of 2017, under the supervision of Theresa Schumilas and Charles Levkoe and with the guidance of our partner organizations, the Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario (EFAO) and the Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training in SW Ontario (CRAFT-SW), I conducted a scan of practical farmer training programs. Practical farmer training refers to farmer-to-farmer education that has a significant on-farm (hands-on) component. The goal was to document and then categorize the various types of practical farmer training programs across North America, to help broaden our understanding of and contextualize the variety of training program models. Continue reading “How does a farmer learn to farm? A scan of practical farmer training programs”


Food Secure Canada, in partnership with CFICE (Community First: Impacts of Community Engagement)(link is external) is launching a webinar series to share critical reflections and research about Canada’s food system:

Building the Food Movement: Cultivating Connections through Critical Conversations

Bringing together a mix of faculty, students and community-based researchers and practitioners, this webinar series will highlight diverse voices and perspectives that challenge and invite us to think differently about our food system and the paths towards justice and sustainability.

The first webinar is on February 21st, 1-2pm EST on the theme of Agroecology.  While the term has become increasingly popular in discussions of food system sustainability, what does it actually mean, and how can we use agroecology principles and practices to transform our food system?

Register here

TOMORROW! Sustainable Food Hubs in Ontario: Free Webinar

Food Hub Webinar Registration Open

Join us tomorrow, Wednesday, January 31st at 12pm EST. for a free webinar exploring results from research conducted between 2014 and 2017 on sustainable food hubs in Ontario.In this webinar, Katie Nolan (OMAFRA), Kendal Donahue (OMAFRA), Phil Mount (JustFood) and Alison Blay-Palmer (Laurier Centre for Sustainable Food Systems) will discuss the Ontario Food Hub surveys that were conducted as part of an OMAFRA New Directions funded project. Showcasing the infographics created with the information collected, the presenters will highlight lessons learned and future research directions. Following the presentations, there will be time for a Q&A.

Please register in advance for this webinar:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

For more information or media inquires, please contact Amanda Di Battista, Project Coordinator, Laurier Centre for Sustainable Food Systems: